Life at work is not always easy. While certain challenges are to be expected, employment law is here to protect you from being treated unfairly.
As specialist employment solicitors, we advise individuals on all aspects of their relationship with their employer. These range from employment terms and conditions, to issues around performance and behaviour, to difficulties with colleagues. We typically help employees deal with:
- bullying at work
- wages or salary claims
- constructive dismissal
- disciplinaries and grievances
- flexible working
- pension entitlement
- settlement agreements
- tribunal claims
- unfair dismissal
We also advise employers. This means that our view of an employee’s work predicament will always be balanced. We will see both sides, and we will be a few steps ahead – anticipating and dealing with the points that your employer is likely to raise. This can make issues far quicker to resolve, and it often leads to more favourable results for our clients.
As employee solicitors, we recognise that individuals do not always know about their employment law rights. If you think that what has happened to you at work is not right, is unfair, or if you need help in putting a difficult situation right, talk to us. We will listen and explain your options. But you should act quickly. While not every workplace issue will lead to an employment law claim, you should be mindful of the three-month timeframe in which a claim must usually be brought.
Clients often ask us.....
How much will it cost to sort out an issue with my employer?
It depends on the issue. Some are easily resolved after a quick piece of advice from an employment law specialist; others will be more complex. Our fees are based on an hourly rate, and we are sometimes able to offer a fixed fee for resolving the issue from beginning to end. Either way, we will always tell you at the very beginning how much we think your case will cost. It means that you can make an informed decision about how to proceed.
Can I get legal aid?
No, legal aid doesn’t apply to employment law issues. However, it is worth checking to see if you have an insurance policy that could cover your legal costs.
I was called into my boss’s office and told to clear my desk. Do I have a claim?
Quite possibly. When an employer wants to dismiss an employee, there is a procedure that should be followed. Depending on the circumstances, this usually involves meeting with the employee and warning them that they could lose their job. The employee should have a proper chance to respond and, if they do go on to be dismissed, to appeal against that dismissal.
Particular steps apply where, for instance, the employee is being dismissed for misconduct (there needs to be a proper investigation into the allegations), or redundancy (there must be a true redundancy situation, and the employer should look for other suitable jobs that the employee could do at the company).
There are various claims that someone in your position could look to bring. There may be a discrimination claim, for example. But the most obvious would be a claim for unfair dismissal. You would need to have been employed by your employer for at least two years in order to be eligible. Given the abruptness of your dismissal, it would certainly be worth getting advice on your options from an employment law solicitor. And do this as soon as possible; the three-month deadline for bringing an employment law claim is very strict.
Would raising an issue ruin my relationship with my employer?
Not if you go about things in the right way. If you have a genuine and reasonable concern about the way you are being treated, it is important to raise it. And an employment law specialist will help you do things in a measured and appropriate way.
We quite often advise in the background. That means that we will advise you on how best to broach an issue with your employer. We will help you ask the right questions, and we will even draft letters and emails for you to send to your employer in your name. It is all about judging the situation and taking the right action to sort it out. Of course, where the circumstances call for it, we step in and correspond directly with employers. And we represent clients at tribunals where that becomes necessary.
Will I have to go to court?
An employment tribunal (or, in some circumstances the county court or high court) is a last resort when it comes to sorting out employment law disputes. We always exhaust other options – whether through correspondence or meetings with your employer, negotiation, or mediation - first. Where the three-month time limit on bringing claims is approaching, we may issue the claim at tribunal on your behalf to protect your position. However, that does not mean that your case will lead to a final hearing. There is a process of Acas conciliation that must be gone through before cases can progress through the tribunal, and that can lead to cases being settled. And even if that fails, we will usually try to reach an agreement with your employer to avoid a tribunal hearing because we recognise that a hearing can be an expensive and stressful experience.
My employer has asked me to sign a Settlement Agreement. What is this?
This is an agreement that employees are sometimes presented with when their employment is being ended. They are common in redundancy situations, but can be used in other situations, too. The key point is that, in signing a Settlement Agreement, you will be losing your right to bring or pursue certain claims against your employer once you have left. It is a legal requirement that employees have legal advice on the terms and effect of the agreement, and the employer should pay some or all of the employment law solicitor fees for that advice.