Business owners and company directors know that reputation is everything. It’s a companies reputation that allows them to secure the long-term business of repeat clients and customers while also ensuring that they attract and recruit top-tier talent. As such, businesses must be ever vigilant when it comes to threats to their reputation, whether they come from the online comments of disgruntled customers or from the actions of employees.
Many directors and business owners will likely have heard of the Online Tribunal Database, and they may not understand the potential damage that it can do to their reputation.
Many directors and business owners will likely have heard of the Online Tribunal Database, and they may not understand the potential damage that it can do to their reputation. Here we’ll look at what the Online Tribunal database is, how it works and its implications for employers….
What is the Online Tribunal Database?
The Online Tribunal Database is a publicly available archive of tribunal claims which have been brought against a company. It publishes the claims made against the company and the decision. It covers tribunal decisions from all over England, Scotland and Wales.
It represents an essential landmark in an increasing trend towards greater awareness of employer reputation from the point of view of employers and prospective employees. Yet, while many businesses embrace this in theory, they may worry that in practice it has potentially damaging implications for them.
Implications for employers
While the Online Tribunal Database is intended to protect both employers and employees, it’s easy to see why such a database might be a cause for concern for employers. They may worry that the Online Tribunal Database could become a readily available list of claims which have been brought against them. The database captures not only data from cases that have progressed to a full hearing, but also judgements where claims have been settled or withdrawn. This means that even when cases have been resolved without the need to go to court, a record of them is still made.
Employees can use this as a resource to vet the credibility of businesses posting job vacancies before making an application. A proliferation of claims, even if all have been settled “out of court” can paint a disproportionate, unrealistic or misleading portrait of a company which could potentially form a barrier to that business being able to secure top-tier candidates.
The issue of misleading perceptions is exacerbated by the fact that the database can be wildly inconsistent when it comes to what information appears in instances where claims are withdrawn or settled.
Is there anything that employers can do?
The issue, then, for most employers lies not in the publishing of tribunal data online, but in reporting inconsistencies which can lead to a misleading narrative that has a detrimental effect on their business.
The good news is that in such cases, employers may apply for a restricted reporting order or anonymisation. When this is done at the earliest opportunity and with the aid of the right legal team, it allows employers to better “control the narrative” and prevent misleading depictions that can damage their reputation.
The bottom line
While employers can do little to prevent tribunal claim data being published online, this does not mean that they are powerless to mitigate its effects on their reputation.