How can a barrister help a HR team?

Recent, high-profile, complaints brought against organisations and their approaches to handling employee misdemeanours have highlighted the use of barristers to support HR teams. This could be done by reviewing policies and processes, to looking at individual cases and taking a proactive approach before any legal claim is made.

Here, we take a look at the ways a barrister can work with an organisation to provide HR support and the value that can be added when HR teams engage early with expert legal advice.

How can a barrister support a Human Resources team?

When an organisation works with a barrister to support its human resources, the barrister typically provides legal expertise and advice related to employment law matters. Here’s how the process might work:

  1. Identifying the Need: The organisation recognises the need for legal support in human resources and identifies specific areas where legal guidance is required. This could include matters such as employment contracts, disciplinary actions, discrimination claims, terminations, or workplace policies.
  2. Engaging a Barrister: The organisation selects a barrister with expertise in employment law to work with their human resources department. This can be done through referrals, research, or engaging a law firm that has barristers specialising in employment law.
  3. Initial Consultation: The organisation arranges an initial consultation with the barrister to discuss their specific needs and challenges. During this consultation, the barrister gathers information about the organisation’s HR practices, policies, and any ongoing legal issues.
  4. Legal Advice and Compliance: The barrister provides legal advice and guidance to the organisation’s human resources team. This includes interpreting employment laws, explaining rights and obligations, and ensuring compliance with relevant legislation. The barrister may review existing HR policies, contracts, and procedures, making recommendations for updates or improvements to align with current legal standards.
  5. Drafting and Reviewing Legal Documents: If required, the barrister can assist in drafting and reviewing legal documents related to employment matters. This could include employment contracts, confidentiality agreements, non-compete agreements, or settlement agreements.
  6. Representation in Legal Proceedings: In the event of legal disputes or litigation related to employment issues, the barrister can represent the organisation in court or tribunals. They can provide expert legal advocacy, prepare arguments, cross-examine witnesses, and present the organisation’s case.
  7. Training and Workshops: The barrister may also offer training sessions or workshops for the organisation’s HR team and employees. These sessions can focus on employment law updates, discrimination and harassment prevention, disciplinary procedures, or other relevant topics.
  8. Ongoing Support: The organisation maintains a relationship with the barrister, seeking their advice as needed and keeping them informed of any significant HR developments or issues. Regular check-ins can help ensure continued compliance with employment laws and address emerging legal concerns.

It’s important to note that the process may vary depending on the organisation’s specific requirements, the nature of legal issues, and the arrangement with the barrister. Organisations should consult with legal professionals to determine the best approach for their particular circumstances.

Team member happy with the outcome of a HR process
Barristers provide legal expertise and advice related to employment law matters

How can a barrister help if there is a case involving an employee, even if it hasn’t been escalated?

A barrister may assist in supporting a case involving an employee, even if the case hasn’t been escalated, for several reasons:

  1. Legal Advice: A barrister can provide valuable legal advice and guidance to the organisation regarding the employee’s situation. They can assess the merits of the case, provide an objective analysis of the legal issues involved, and advise on the best course of action.
  2. Early Intervention: Engaging a barrister early on allows the organisation to proactively address the employee’s concerns or grievances. By obtaining legal advice at an early stage, the organisation can potentially resolve the matter before it escalates into a formal dispute or legal proceedings.
  3. Mitigating Risks: A barrister can help the organisation understand the potential legal risks associated with the case and provide strategies to mitigate those risks. They can identify any legal obligations, ensure compliance with employment laws, and help develop a plan to protect the organisation’s interests.
  4. Strengthening Position: Even if the case hasn’t been escalated, having a barrister on board can help the organisation gather and preserve relevant evidence, assess the strength of their position, and prepare for any potential future disputes or legal proceedings. This can put the organisation in a stronger position if the case does progress.
  5. Mediation and Settlement: In cases where there is a dispute between the organisation and the employee, a barrister can assist in exploring alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation. They can provide guidance during negotiations and help facilitate a fair and mutually acceptable settlement.
  6. Procedural Compliance: A barrister can ensure that the organisation follows the appropriate procedures and processes in handling the case, such as adhering to employment law requirements, internal policies, and fair practices. This can help safeguard against potential claims of unfair treatment or procedural irregularities.
  7. Expert Representation: If the case eventually does escalate, having a barrister already familiar with the situation can be advantageous. They can provide expert representation in formal proceedings, present legal arguments, cross-examine witnesses, and advocate for the organisation’s position.

In summary, engaging a barrister early on in a case involving an employee allows the organisation to access legal expertise, mitigate risks, and potentially resolve the matter before it escalates. It provides the organisation with a strategic advantage and ensures compliance with employment laws, protecting their interests throughout the process.

Where can I go if I need expert legal support as part of a HR process?

At Quartz we have access to barristers with the expertise and experience needed to support HR teams, and manage complex cases. Get in touch to see how we can help you.

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