HR experts Pennine Business Partners well worth their edgy half page feature in The Huddersfield Daily Examiner


Here's the press release in full ... and don't forget the media loves a factfile so I included one for them.

Why woman who branded a colleague a k***head won an industrial tribunal

A Yorkshire HR expert is warning that the devil is often in the detail when companies are taken to employment tribunals … and businesses are needlessly losing cases because they've missed this vital information when setting up their policy and procedures.

In one case a woman branded a colleague a k***bhead in an email to a trading partner yet the company lost its case after dismissing her for gross misconduct.

Lynn Bradley, director Huddersfield-based Pennine Business Partners (, says three recent tribunal cases have thrown the spotlight on where businesses often go wrong on HR issues and hopes businesses across Yorkshire will learn from them.

She said: “Reading these three cases, most businesses may have thought the companies would have won their tribunals but it turned out to be exactly the opposite. All are the kind of scenarios that happen in the business world day in and day out so it's well worth businesses learning from them.”

In the first case the woman who used the k***head term had worked for her employer for 20 years and after she was dismissed took her case to an employment tribunal which ruled in her favour … as did the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

Lynn said: “The reason for the rulings centred on the process by which the employers handled the internal disciplinary and appeal process. Despite following guidance that was part of existing employment relations legislation, both tribunals felt the employer was unreasonable in not allowing an additional two week delay in their process to allow a specific union representative to attend a meeting.”

The woman’s award was reduced by 15% because she had contributed to her own dismissal.

In the second case highlighted by Lynn a company thought it had a water-tight case - but it turned out to be somewhat leaky when it reached the tribunal.

Lynn said: “This company dismissed two of its workers after they admitted using company vehicles for their own private purposes. After all, doing this was a gross misconduct misdemeanour in the company’s vehicle and driver policy.

“So they were staggered when the judge found against them, ruling the policy didn’t clearly define private usage and that the employees each had 20 years service without disciplinary sanction. He decided that to take such tough action against both workers was beyond the range of reasonable responses.”

The third case Lynn highlights involves a man who resigned after nine years with his employer after a series of working hours reductions and the imposition of a new employment contract.

His claim for unfair dismissal was upheld and his award was uplifted by 10% because, in addition to a fundamental breach of contract, his employer had not followed the ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures

Lynn said some businesses fail to “keep their eye on the ball” when it comes to following policies, procedures and people management best practice because they are simply too busy running their companies.

But this is not regarded as any kind of excuse by tribunals which will pick up on any failings.

Lynn said: “Businesses with the best management practices and employee engagement tend to perform better – plus, these cases I've talked about show there are potentially severe penalties for getting it wrong.”

Lynn's checklist for getting HR right first time

Make sure contracts of employment clearly set out the terms of employment which will include conditions, rights, responsibilities and duties.

Check that your company handbook outlines the company's aims, objective and values; contains general information such as holiday arrangements, company perks and policies including rules, disciplinary and grievance procedures.

Communication with employees is key so make sure expectations can be easily understood by using job descriptions, setting objectives and agreeing priorities; providing regular feedback and sharing company goals and aspirations with staff.

If a problem arises always address issues promptly, be consistent, objective and fair; be open minded and prepared to listen; make notes of all meetings and keep records; communicate outcomes promptly and clarify future expectations.