Problematic employees? Lee Betchley, partner at law firm Clarke Mairs, explains how to deal with the issue without having to face the costly consequences.

Employees are undoubtedly an organisation’s most valuable asset. But, as we all know, problems can, and often do, arise.

Dealing with employee related problems can be extremely daunting for employers, particularly as the legal landscape is notoriously intricate.

The key to managing such problems successfully is to obtain professional legal advice as early as possible.

A failure to obtain such advice can be disastrous and often results in a protracted dispute which could have been avoided had advice been sought from a solicitor.

Protracted disputes are expensive, time-consuming and usually end in an unsatisfactory outcome for all concerned.

Sometimes, employers (especially SMEs) delay taking legal advice because of concerns over legal costs. This is understandable, but also unnecessary.

At Clarke Mairs Solicitors, we provide expert HR and employment law advice on a daily basis to a wide range of organisations operating in a variety of different sectors. Some of our clients choose to access such advice via our HR Watch service.

Essentially this service is provided under an affordable fixed monthly or annual retainer and usually includes:

  1. an initial audit of employment contracts, policies and procedures to ensure legal compliance;
  2. unlimited telephone advice;
  3. assistance with the drafting of documents and letters; and
  4. regular updates on important changes to UK employment laws.

Additionally, the service can include an element of training for staff and legal representation should an employment tribunal claim be received.

We find that many employers place importance on upskilling their staff and recognise the importance of HR and employment law training for key individuals.

Whilst we can underpin the service with legal expenses insurance via an insurance broker, we tend not to as both us and our clients find this approach to be overly restrictive, and certainly our clients prefer us to offer commercial and pragmatic advice, rather than advice which slavishly follows the requirements of a third party insurer.

HR Watch is suitable for organisations of all sizes and types, although typically it works particularly well for employers with between 10 and 500 employees. The service works equally well for organisations that do, or do not, have an internal HR function.

Our experience is that organisations which use our HR Watch service only very rarely find themselves involved in disputes, and where they do they are well placed to defend themselves against employment claims.

The cost of the service depends on an organisation’s individual needs and risk profile. But very significant savings are available compared with accessing advice on an ad-hoc basis under a traditional hourly rate fees arrangement. The main purpose of the service is to offer expert advice in a cost-effective manner.

Our clients tell us that they appreciate certainty and transparency in terms of costs for HR and employment law advice, and HR Watch delivers on both of these key requirements.

For more information please contact Lee Betchley on 0191 245 4817 or by email at or visit the HR Watch information page on our website by clicking here


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