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The credit crunch and why business owners should be cautious

The credit crunch and why business owners should be cautious

If the saying goes, “when the going gets tough – the tough get going” – does that mean there is an exact opposite to match? How about “when the going gets tough – the weak get falling” or perhaps “when the going gets tough – the greedy get suing?”. Pretty miserable thought isn’t it? To be fair to the vast majority of people, the thought of suing someone for the kind of petty nonsense that is mentioned in so many ‘No Win No Fee” type ambulance chasing lawyer adverts – is frankly repugnant.

For those people that are misfortunate enough to walk under the ladder of destiny, and perhaps have an accident, or injury – their first thought is “how do I get better”. The second thought may be –“what just happened – was it my fault?”. Most decent people think through this process, so that they can avoid making the same mistake again. There are some folks however that their first thought is “can I make some money out of this? Who can I blame?”. It’s even been known that people think of remembering the number for ‘Claims direct’ before even calling the ambulance. And it’s these kind of people that are the dangerous kind.

You see, these type of thoughts aren’t just coming from nowhere. No – when someone is feeling the economic pinch, creative minds start to think about filling their fiscal gap. They may had previously considered other easy ‘revenue producing’ methods such as borrowing off their granny, or winning the lottery.

There are even the types that are keeping their eyes open for an opportunity to find fault, so they can sue for damages, negligence and more. You may think that you wouldn’t know anyone that would do such a thing, but in reality – you may! A disgruntled employee could have a chance slip in the office, or a tumble off a chair – and that’s where the problems could start. If the staff member is unhappy, or feel unappreciated (for any reason) then that twisted knee, or ‘back injury’ could be their meal ticket. If they push the right buttons, they could even get some compensation off you – and then when you are unhappy paying them out, and you get rid of them – they start again to get another payment for unfair dismissal.

So “What can I do about that?” I hear you say. Well, the truth is you can’t help it if people have an accident most of the time. You’ve just got to make sure that you are keeping a lookout for the basics, and making sure everything is documented.

When people look around their office environments and look at the normal things like office furniture, office chairs, PC monitors and cable management – they are often warned that things are in breach of ‘Health and safety’ or “The fire officer wouldn’t like that!”. Many directors respond with “I’ve been in business for 23 years and have never had a ‘visit’ yet! As if to say – I’m not going to get caught out, because who’s going to tell on me? And that probably used to be true. However, nowadays even when a labour government employs a veritable army of ‘elf and safety inspectors and they have more powers than ever – that may not be the problem.

The problem may be that in an increasingly litigious environment, a greedy staff member may use any breach as grounds to force their ‘personal injury’ case to court to get some more of your hard earned cash. Don’t think this doesn’t happen – or it’s just unquantifiable scaremongering – because in the last few years there have been literally dozens of cases going to court and winning substantial sums form their employers. In 2000 alone, there were 194 successful cases, where employees won an average of £6,500 for just having inappropriate chairs in their workplace.

The message? Get your house (or more importantly office) in order. It doesn’t mean go over the top with regulations, but just make certain that your procedures are in place, and they are being followed and documented. Most of it comes down to common sense, and just making sure that your staff are using theirs. It doesn’t have to be a pig of a job – but rather that than someone raids your piggy bank.

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