Outsourcing has traditionally focused on administrative or lower-grade HR functions, but increasingly companies are turning to outsourcers to handle disciplinary cases and grievances, too.

HR legislation is now so complex – that it’s no longer a field for amateurs. HR can also be caught in the middle between the management and the workforce, and it’s difficult to retain the trust of both when there are tough decisions to be made.” But outsourcing HR problems is not an easy task. How do you measure the outsourcing – it’s much easier to outsource functions that are less subjective, such as payroll administration. Those functions are easier to define, and it is much easier to set service standards.

When it comes to handling employee relationships that have gone sour, it’s harder to set up a long-term outside deal. Clearly, a company might want to call in a specialist legal team if an unfair dismissal or discrimination case gets to court, but in such cases the team is likely to consist of traditional consultants or even project managers rather than outsourcers.