Updated: Aug 24
Guest Blogger: Jessica Rowson, Head of Psychiactric Injury at Oakwood Solicitors
Most people will know that the Employment Tribunal is there to help with workplace disputes and information about accessing legal action via that route is commonly understood and known about. A lesser known route is via the County Courts.
As a specialist personal injury Solicitor practising in the field of stress at work, I have seen on many occasions clients come to me later down the line and say to me that they never knew about any option other than a claim in the Employment Tribunal and how they wished that they had known earlier.
In the main, the Employment Tribunal is there to deal with matters of unfair dismissal decisions and matters of discrimination. The Employment Tribunal cannot however deal with issues of negligence, i.e. where an employer has breached the duty of care it owes to an employee, or workplace bullying where there is no discriminatory motive behind the conduct in question. This is where the civil Courts can help.
A civil action is essentially an insurance claim for compensation made against the employer’s liability insurers. Compensation is awarded to successful Claimants who are able to evidence that the issues at work have caused them stress to the extent that their mental health has suffered, i.e. a personal injury claim. Compensation can also be awarded for any financial loss which has resulted from the impact to that person’s health such as loss of earnings for any required time off work (both historic and anticipated in the future) and treatment costs on a private healthcare basis to assist with recovery.
In some situations, claims can be made in both the Employment Tribunal and the County Court so it’s important to get the right legal advice as soon as possible so that an informed decision about what is best can be made.
Mental health is a priority issue so if this has been a factor in a workplace dispute then it’s vital that the right advice is sought out. It is often the longer-term consequences of damage to someone’s mental health with is overlooked but of which should be given serious consideration.
If the Employment Tribunal cannot help, it is likely that the civil Court may be able to instead.
If in doubt, I would encourage anyone to seek out a personal injury specialist such as myself who can help advise on whether the civil route may be a viable option either instead of or as well as the more commonly used Employment Tribunal route.
Jessica Rowson is a specialist lawyer in the niche legal field of stress at work cases with a particular interest in cases involving matters of workplace bullying, and a member of the Conduct Change Advisory Board. She hopes that by supporting her clients in taking legal action against their employers that companies will become better educated and informed on the importance of good mental health in the workplace and avoid the likelihood of future workplace disputes from arising.
Conduct Change was founded in 2019 with the purpose of changing behaviour in workplaces to create more courageous and compassionate approaches to prevent workplace bullying. The founder, Nicki Eyre, has been through her own workplace bullying experience during her career and recognises the scale of the problem at both an organisational and individual level.
We recognise that workplace bullying is a sensitive topic for many businesses. If you are concerned that you may have a bullying issue in your workplace, or just want help in opening up the conversations, we are here to advise. We offer a free and confidential discussion to understand the issues and explain what options are available for you.
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