Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Save time with the employment claims toolkit

Bath Publishing, the publishers of Employment Cases Update, have created a program which could save employment lawyers a huge amount of time. The 'Employment Claims Toolkit' is a ‘smart' program which produces a schedule of loss at the click of a button.

At first you fill in a template with the names of the parties, type of claim (unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal, discrimination, TUPE, protective awards etc), date of dismissal etc but the cleverness of the device is not apparent until you click the schedule. After all we have all filled in computerised forms in order to change currency or even to work out redundancy payments or to turn gross to net see here. However this program is far more complex. For example once you have filled in the forms the Toolkit works out all of the maths and then if needed can adjust to take into consideration a change of hearing date or the date the claimant gets a new equivalent job.

But it is even cleverer than that: it will for example, adjust the maths and restrict the sum to the present Compensatory Award cap. It applies the correct weekly limit on gross pay where applicable, including the Basic Award. There is also the ability to reduce the compensation schedule for contributory fault and Polkey. It also grosses up awards and calculates the prescribed element. It even calculates the interest on discrimination awards.

For those who need their memories refreshing there is a resources section which gives useful help with minimum wage rates to compensation limits. There is also an incredibly useful 'Help' section which gives you all of the law you need when putting together a schedule of loss. Below is an extract:

'Adjustments to the Compensatory Award'

The Toolkit is designed to enable users to make any necessary adjustments to the compensatory award in the appropriate order (Digital Equipment Co Ltd v Clements (No 2) [1998] IRLR 134).

The order adopted by the Toolkit is as follows: a) A deduction in respect of any payment in lieu or ex gratia payment which has been made to the employee as compensation for the dismissal (Digital Equipment Co Ltd v Clements (No 2) [1998] IRLR 134.

The Toolkit will automatically make this deduction.

 b) A deduction of earnings which have mitigated the claimant’s loss or a sum which reflects any failure by the claimant’s failure to mitigate his/her loss (ERA s123(4)). The Toolkit will automatically make this deduction.

 c) A ‘Polkey’ deduction to reflect the chance that the claimant would have been dismissed in any event and that the employer’s procedural errors accordingly made no difference to the outcome (Polkey v AE Dayton Services Ltd [1987] IRLR 50 (HL)). It is for the user to enter the appropriate percentage.

 d) A percentage increase or reduction up to a maximum of 25% to reflect a failure by the employer or employee to comply with the ACAS disciplinary code (s207A TULR(C)A). It is for the user to enter the appropriate percentage.

 e) An increase for any failure by the employer to provide written particulars of employment (s38 EA 2002). This figure is to be entered on the ‘statutory rights’ tab. It is for the user to enter the appropriate sum between 2 and 4 weeks gross pay.

 f) A percentage reduction for any contributory fault on the part of the employee (s123(6) ERA 1996). It is for the user to enter the appropriate percentage remembering that this percentage does not have to be same as any deduction for contributory fault for the Basic Award.

 g) A deduction of any enhanced redundancy payment to the extent that it exceeds the basic award (s123(7) ERA 1996). The Toolkit will automatically make this deduction using the total redundancy pay figure entered by the user on the core data screen or on the compensation (immediate loss of earnings) tab.

 h) A deduction for accelerated payment of compensation in respect of future loss (See Bentwood Bros (Manchester) Ltd v Shepherd [2003] IRLR 364). It is for the user to enter the appropriate percentage.

 i) Interest on Compensatory Award (discrimination cases only) (The Industrial Tribunals (Interest on Awards in Discrimination Cases) Regulations 1996). Interest on compensation other than an award for injury to feelings runs from the ‘mid-point’ date to the date of calculation. The mid-point is calculated as the date halfway between the discriminatory act and ending on the calculation date (usually the judgment date). Interest accrues from day to day and is simple rather than compound. It is for the user to enter the date of calculation and the interest rate to be applied. A table of interest rates can be found under the Tables and Resources tab.

The Toolkit's usability is helpful and you can store your finished schedules or works in progress with ease, or even save the schedules as Word documents. This tool will be incredibly useful for the Solicitor or Barrister handling many cases, simply for reasons of ease of management.

A useful small video is available and should be watched just to show the user how many tricks the program has up its sleeve. Although this program is only as good as the individual inputting the figures, it will doubtless save inordinate amounts of time. For those fed up with being handed messy, sometimes handwritten schedules of loss, the final product from the Toolkit is smart enough to be put before an Employment Judge.

Finally, the price is a snip at £120 for a year or £35 for a month. In a world where legal resources are often nearer the £1000 mark this represents a bargain.

To subscribe or see prices click here.

To see a video or a sample schedule see here.

 By Charles Price, A Direct Access Barrister


Darlingtons Solicitors said...

Interesting idea - not sure would agree that it's that sophisticated, there are other tools, but the pricepoint is quite reasonable if it's used regularly. Wasn't clear whether it produces a full schedule of loss in standrad form ? That would be useful and time saving.

Charles Price said...

Yes it does provide a full schedule of loss - bound to save many billable hours!