Farmers are being urged to ensure they have the right employment law protection in place, after it was revealed that almost one in four UK businesses had experienced issues that could result in legal action last year.
In an increasingly litigious society, claiming for everything from PPI to personal injury has never been easier. As a result, employers are more likely to have an employment claim than a fire. From misuse of social media, to staff disagreements, claims can originate from the least expected source.
Employment rights continue to be strengthened in the UK, leaving the uninitiated open to claims that can cost many thousands of pounds. Even if successfully defended, a large legal defence bill will need to be covered. What may seem an innocuous issue, can quickly spiral out of control.
Unfortunately, most farms don’t have any HR support, or even any training on how to manage such a situation.
The ability to access the right advice quickly, and taking the correct action, is key, and can often prevent a situation escalating rapidly into a full-blown court case. The legal framework behind UK employment law is a minefield, something most will not have time to study.
The insurance industry has reacted to this and offers a type of policy called Employment Practice Liability (EPL). This offers a defendant protection against the costs involved in a claim, such as legal representation and dealing with grievance issues (such as mediation), and often a telephone helpline to call as soon as an issue arises. Remember, defendants will need to cover defence costs, even if in the right.
Thom Jones, on-farm adviser at Farmers & Mercantile Insurance Brokers (FMIB) explains, “I believe EPL should be part of every farm’s insurance programme, when the farm has its own employees.
“You can only do so much and making a mistake with employment issues can be extremely costly. The right insurance can be the difference between a hefty legal and compensation bill, and a withdrawn case and apology. Look at it as your employment law fire brigade. “
Farmers & Mercantile can advise on suitable farm and employment insurance cover to suit individual requirements. Visit www.fandmgroup.co.ukfor details.