Anyone running a business will need to master many skills. They need to understand finance, health and safety requirements, customer service, taxation, negotiation and managing staff, amongst numerous other things. For most successful entrepreneurs, any expert advice or assistance they may be able to call upon is most welcome.

Yet, some will try and deal with matters themselves, even though the situation may fall far outside their expertise or comfort zone, rather than seek such help. Insurance products do provide assistance for some of these areas in easily accessible forms, making that decision to seek help so much easier. Making policyholders aware of how to access such assistance is vital in making their lives less complicated.

If we take staff issues as an example, there is a steady flow of complaint files going to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) from employees lodging complaints against their current or former employers. In 2018, 7,724 adjudication complaint files were sent to the WRC leading to 5,312 adjudication hearings. 27% of these complaints related to pay issues, 14% to unfair dismissal claims and 13% related to complaints under the Working Time Act. Should an employer be expected to be an expert in the area of employment legislation too? Simply having an aggrieved employee could lead to a complaint being lodged in the WRC if a situation isn’t handled correctly. The employer might even have to attend a hearing and present their defence to an alleged breach, where they haven’t actually done anything wrong.

Two cases last year saw €61,000 awarded to a woman who was discriminated against due to her pregnancy and €22,000 awarded to a man who was dismissed as a result of an oil spillage where a defective disciplinary process was utilised. Two very different situations that show the wide range of responsibility an employer has. Perhaps if these matters had been handled differently from the outset the outcomes could have been more favourable for the employers.

Having a commercial legal expenses insurance policy in your portfolio will give your clients access to a 24 hour legal advice helpline, allowing them to make that call to get assistance before they act in a manner that could prejudice a future claim. Knowing what rights their employees have can prevent them from breaching them. Finding out what the correct disciplinary process entails will enable them to take the right steps at the right time. Access to this resource is hugely valuable for any business.

This Insurance policy can also cover the costs of legal representation at the WRC if a policyholder has to attend a hearing, so they don’t have to worry about a legal bill mounting up from the situation. A potential compensation award may also be covered, if the policyholder has sought and followed the advice of their insurer from the outset.

So, business leaders don’t have to be employment law experts, but it is extremely useful for them to have experts to call upon.

For more advice in relation to Commercial Legal Protection please contact your Account Manager for assistance.

Disclaimer - all information in this article was correct at time of publishing.