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Publication of Employment Tribunal judgments: the impact for employers

In February, the Ministry of Justice formally launched its website of Employment Tribunal decisions. All future Tribunal decisions will be uploaded onto the website. Below we consider the impact that publication of decisions may have upon employers.

There are significant practical implications arising from increased accessibility.  A website user can search for decisions by drop-down menu or free text search, which could include the name of the employee or employer for example.  If a decision is widely dispersed on the internet, then it will become increasingly visible on a results page.

Increased accessibility may cause some concern for employers. The risk of adverse publicity for businesses is now much greater, as allegations about personnel or confidential commercial information become more public.  Employees bringing a claim could seek to draw inferences about the business from findings of fact in previous decisions, particularly those relating to discrimination claims, which may be taken out of context.  Statistics or patterns about a business involved in Tribunal proceedings may also be compiled and published. 

The other side of the coin is that employers will be able to search for any decisions involving job applicants or employees, although care should be taken to ensure that detrimental treatment does not follow.  Employees will now risk being named on this website should they bring a Tribunal claim – this increases the risk a future employer will find out.

Notwithstanding the above, a key advantage of greater transparency is that the publication of decisions should provide helpful examples of how Tribunal’s approach issues of fact and law. Previous decisions will also include examples of compensation awarded which should help to encourage realistic expectations.

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