Driving continuous improvement to reduce legal spend
With over 170,000 employees and over 500 places of business, a major Pinsent Masons client is probably among the most complex of businesses in the country from an employee relations perspective.
Inevitably given the size of the workforce and a significant commitment to fair and equitable treatment of staff, employee relations issues can arise. These issues – particularly if escalated to Employment Tribunal level – can be time consuming, costly and cause significant brand damage.
Our client was keen to find a new way of working with its employment lawyers to foster continuous improvement, drive up standards further still and address issues early through targeted pre-emptive measures.
In 2013 Pinsent Masons was instructed on a fixed-fee, sole adviser basis for all its standard employee dispute work.
The programme gave the client complete certainty over its legal spend for this type of work over a period of three years.
Further, it incentivised external advisers to achieve maximum efficiency by putting no cap on the number of claims handled. It also encouraged continuous improvement by reducing the overall annual fee by 15% in year two and again in year three.
Pinsent Masons, in turn, benefited from complete certainty about its income stream, and a real opportunity to influence the amount of work generated. It was also given considerable freedom over the way the work was to be carried out.
Pinsent Masons developed a unique, proprietary case management system (CMS) for the handling of employee disputes.
This innovative CMS, which was configured to the specific needs of the client, delivers the following benefits:
- a quality-assured, consistent service;
- real-time management information;
- a focus on trends and risk areas so that these can be addressed, reducing claims and resolution costs.
Matters are progressed through a pre-defined workflow or series of steps, automatically prompting the legal team to complete necessary actions in line with critical dates and criteria, giving complete transparency over the status of matters from instruction to completion. The system is fully tailored to the bespoke protocol agreed with the client, ensuring that they receive what they want, when they want and in the form they require.
This system eliminates waste by ensuring that no time is spent ‘re-inventing the wheel’ on case management, chasing down or searching for documents, or providing updates to the client on individual cases (as the legal team can access the information themselves at will). Qualified lawyers are used only where necessary. Complex cases can be identified and escalated quickly. It also facilitates central supervision of a UK-wide team covering claims in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – effectively leveraging Pinsent Masons flexible costs base and ensuring that experts in the variations of each legal jurisdiction are involved where appropriate.
Further, the system supplies meaningful management information to the HR and legal functions in the format they have specified, which gives rise to a programme of continuous improvement and training running through the client business.
Using big data to generate big insight
By using the case management system to handle all of these matters, Pinsent Masons can collate meaningful management information relating to all claims handled. This currently includes a quarterly ‘dashboard’ outlining the number and type of claims in progress, the form of resolution for completed claims (e.g. struck out, settled, won, lost) the average size of award or settlement , the types of claims that have been raised and the areas of the business from which they are arising. Those quarterly reports also include a ‘bite-sized’ update for the client, with key learning points taken from the previous quarter’s disputes and a note of key changes to employment law which might affect claims in the future.
Strategic reviews are then conducted to identify common trends and where pre-emptive steps could be taken, for instance through the provision of training on particular issues or to particular parts of the business.
This is where Pinsent Masons ‘Employment Law+’ service comes in, providing tailored training solutions to upskill people managers.
The ‘Employment Law+’ team has trained in excess of 1,000 people managers from across the client’s business on best practice in relation to employment law, with content tailored to the needs of the business as identified by trends in the data compiled through the case management system.
During 2013 the team prepared and delivered a series of tailored training courses for a targeted group of senior people managers on business critical projects. The sessions were designed to enable easy cascading of information throughout the business with learning materials developed such that delegates were empowered to deliver courses to their own staff.
By investing in its decision makers in this way our client benefitted from improved awareness and management of the risks inherent in day to day management, and increased managers’ confidence to deal effectively with colleagues at work.
A significant reduction in the number of claims passing through the system has been recorded relative to previous years.
For further information please contact: