HR Solutions – impact assessments

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HR solutions – impact assessments


When considering how to deal with difficult people situations, business owners should do an impact assessment.

What is an impact assessment?

An impact assessment will consider the risk and impact to the business of a proposed course of action as well as the likelihood and probability. We all do impact assessments instinctively – crossing the road, taking something hot out of the oven, pulling out at a junction etc.

HR should do impact assessments more

The HR function in a business may be perceived as a barrier, on the basis that “HR says we can’t do that…” The reality is that you can actually do anything but you need to be aware of the risk. It is correct that HR have a role in pointing out the issues, associated with a proposed course of action, but they should adopt a solutions-based approach rather than putting up barriers.

Employment Tribunals

Most Companies are worried about ending up in an Employment Tribunal. They’re concerned that if they get it wrong they may end up losing at Tribunal, and the employee could get in excess of £80,000 in an award.  The upper limit in a Tribunal for unfair dismissal (but not discrimination) is about £85k but the average award of settlement is nearer £8k to £10k. This is why many businesses make a pragmatic decision to settle cases out of court, on the basis that it prevents the risk of reputational damage. It also saves the time and distraction of case preparation and legal costs etc. There is a point at which most cases have a PSV (Pragmatic Settlement Value).

Settling out of court

The use of protected conversations, settlement agreements and ACAS COT 3 make it quite straight forward to achieve stettlement with the support of AB HR Solutions who can act as an independent 3rd party. It is still a cause for concern how many decisions about people are being influenced by HR functions, scare-mongering the business about the consequences.

More HR people should take a commercial view, rather than be driven by political correctness, and assess the commercial risk of a course of action. Doing an impact assessment will highlight risk, but invariably such risk can be managed, and the consequences of such action mitigated by following a process and having a clear plan. The role of HR support is to ensure that the business has full knowledge of the risks and the business is then free to make a commercial judgement.

Risk management v risk averse

Some businesses are quite risk averse, often driven by the fear of brand or reputational damage or adverse publicity. However, some believe that risk should be managed and assessed in the context of the impact from a cost perspective.

There is always a risk that you can get it wrong and end up with an Employment Tribunal claim through the post but all is not lost. You still have the opportunity to settle out of court or you can make the decision to go all the way if there is a principle at stake. Despite what people say, employees are not winning massive sums of money in Tribunals and even though the press can go to hearings, Tribunal cases can be pretty boring so don’t make good news stories.

Tribunal backlog

Due to Corona virus, there was a considerable perod of  time when Tribunals were not sitting and hence there is a massive backlog of cases. Depending on the areas, most Tribunals have such a backlog that it would take up to 15 months for a 1 day case to be heard.

So, rather than put barriers in the way of solving people issues, HR support should offer solutions. They should do the impact assessment and consider the commercial issues and adopt a solutions based approach.

If you need pragmatic and commercial HR solutions and/or HR support, get in touch with Adrian on 07885 714771 or contact

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