NORTH East law firm Hay & Kilner has launched a valuable new service aimed at helping the region’s business leaders steer clear of the rising tide of employment tribunal claims. Mass redundancies, corporate restructuring and wage disputes caused by the tough economic climate have contributed to rocketing levels of employment tribunals in recent years, leaving employers at increased risk of substantial payouts which many of them can ill afford.
Newcastle-based Hay & Kilner has responded with the launch of its tailored HR Key service, which will transform the way its business clients gain legal advice when managing their workforce. Businesses of all sizes, from SMEs to plcs, can now sign up for the fixed fee service which gives them unlimited telephone support from experienced solicitors. Subscribers to the service will also be given generous insurance protection and online access to an extensive range of HR documents aimed at preventing and resolving employment issues.
The product is particularly attractive to employers as clients can receive unlimited telephone advice from Hay & Kilner’s top solicitors rather than from HR advisers who aren’t legally qualified. All of the documents in the databank were also personally prepared and are regularly updated by Hay & Kilner’s employment law team. According to the most recent government figures, between July and September 2011 there were 40,300 employment tribunal claims in the UK. Although this was less than the comparative quarter in 2010, the current level of cases being brought against employers remains significantly higher than before the economic downturn, with 2008/09 witnessing a 56% rise in claims.
Hay & Kilner employment partner Sarah Hall said: “In these difficult economic times, we’ve seen a real surge in employment tribunal claims. A lack of opportunities in the job market has meant that people who have been made redundant are less able to simply move into new jobs and more likely to pursue disputes with their former employer. Employers are understandably concerned about any unwanted spend and if a tribunal claim lands at their door they are at risk of having to make a significant and sometimes hugely damaging payout. HR key is designed to deal with exactly this situation”.
Associate solicitor Sarah Furness added: “HR Key operates on a fixed fee basis with the price being determined by the size of the employer, so it really is ideal for businesses that employ anything from a handful to hundreds of workers.”
Among the first companies to take advantage of the HR Key service is The Travel Bureau in Gosforth, Newcastle, whose financial director Graham Knight said: “HR Key is a budgeted cost effective service in response to the minefield that is HR employment law. We are a caring and responsible employer but we need expert advice and guidance to ensure that our employees receive the protection and benefits they are fully entitled to. By ensuring they are protected we in turn protect ourselves from legal and tribunal costs that might very well be incurred if our HR policy is found to be wanting.”.
Washington-based food wholesale business Ellwoods is also an early adopter of the new service, with director Jackie Ellwood describing it as a “must-have” in the current compensation culture. She said: “It takes the stress and strain out of dealing with complex issues, which we’re not qualified to do. We’ve got a basic knowledge of what we can and can’t do but using HR Key just takes the load off and makes things so much simpler and we know that everything is done correctly. Because of the compensation culture, I think the service is applicable to any industry.”
Alongside telephone support, and access to scores of useful documents related to employment issues, HR key comes with the added benefits of an annual audit to review contracts and staff handbooks, regular Email updates and invitations to HR events. The launch of HR Key corresponds with the roll out of Hay & Kilner’s new website. The site was developed with the aim of boosting the firm’s national coverage and, in the short time since going live, it has already supported a 30% rise in online enquiries.
For more information on our HR key service, please click here.