Why Do I Need The Help Of an Employment Law Solicitor?
An employment law solicitor is thoroughly trained to provide advice on how you should deal with actual or potential disputes during your working relationship.
When confronted with convoluted issues such as a dismissal or discriminatory actions, you’d want to get ahold of a professional who not only steers you towards the correct legal channels but does so in a way that doesn’t affect your day-to-day undertakings, whether it be in the workplace or at a tribunal.
Even relatively “minor” topics, such as a flexible work request, require that you follow certain steps and fulfil some requirements. Timely advice for these situations is not unwarranted, especially if you’re met with an unjustified negative answer from your employer.
For advice or support with issues in your workplace or negotiating the best settlements or contracts, call us today on 03334149244.
- Why Do I Need The Help Of an Employment Law Solicitor?
- What Are My Employment Rights?
- Legal Aid With Dismissals
- Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures
- Flexible Working
- Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace
- Workplace Restructure and Transfer of Undertakings (TUPE)
- Employment Tribunal Claim
- How Our Specialist Employment Solicitors Can Help
- Frequently Asked Questions
The term “worker” denotes a broad category of people who work for a company or employer, ranging from casual workers to agency workers (self-employed individuals are not included).
Workers have the following rights:
- National Minimum Wage
- Protection against unlawful wage deductions
- Minimum statutory holiday pay
- Weekly average 48-hour cap
- Minimum statutory rest breaks
- Whistleblowers’ protection
Employees work under an employment contract. They have a wider array of rights and responsibilities than those under other types of contracts.
Apart from the rights proper to workers, employees have the following additional entitlements:
- Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
- Statutory maternity/paternity/adoption pay and leave
- Statutory parental and shared parental pay and leave
- Minimum notice periods if they’re being dismissed
- The right to make a flexible working request
- Permission to take time off for emergencies
- Statutory Redundancy Pay
- Unfair dismissal protection
To enjoy many of these rights, employees must fulfil a minimum continuous employment period, calculated from the very first day of work.
Legal Aid With Dismissals
Employers in the UK are given leeway to dismiss personnel for a great number of reasons laid out in employment law (more specifically, in the Employment Rights Act 1996).
In some cases, they can be dismissed even without any apparent reason. This is possible with employees that have not yet spent two years working continuously under the same employment contract. However, even in that latter scenario, employers are not absolutely free to dismiss employees if that means breaching the employment contract.
If the dismissal is made in disregard for legal or contractual provisions, employees are empowered by law to take legal action.
Let’s have a look at the different situations that could entitle you to a claim before an employment tribunal.
You’ve been unfairly dismissed whenever your employer notifies you of your ousting without giving a “fair reason”. This is distinct from “wrongful dismissal” in that the former deals with the “whys” (the reasons established by employment law), whereas wrongful dismissal claims mainly address the “hows” (e.g., the dismissal was made in a way that violated contractual terms because it didn’t follow due procedure or disregarded fair notice provisions, among other contractual faults.)
The fair reasons that employers may bring up for firing you include:
- Inability to do your job properly.
- You have a long-term illness that makes it impossible for you to perform your duties.
- Your role has been deemed redundant (no longer needed in light of the company’s current goals.)
- Gross misconduct.
- A statutory restriction (e.g., you were stripped of a necessary licence to undertake your job legally.)
- There is a physical impossibility to keeping you employed (e.g., the workplace got destroyed.)
- Another substantial reason (e.g., you unjustifiably refused to comply with a reorganisation, were sent to prison, etc.)
A constructive dismissal claim can be made whenever your employer violates a statutory right or breaks a contractual term in such a way that forces you to leave your job.
Examples of fair reasons for leaving your job include the following:
- Your employer constantly skips pay day arbitrarily or doesn’t pay you at all.
- You get demoted for no solid reason.
- You’re forced to accept unwarranted changes to your working conditions.
- Your employer or manager allows or encourages workplace harassment towards you.
The contractual breach would need to consist of a series of incidents that, when put together, would constitute a serious matter. Alternatively, you may point to one serious incident (e.g., unreasonable demotion or change in how you work).
Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures
If your employer wishes to dismiss you, they’re obliged to follow a procedure that will cover disciplinary actions. Same when they receive a complaint or “grievance” from you.
The Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) devised a “Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures” that ought to be observed by the employer unless they have laid out an internal procedure either in the employment contracts or in the staff handbooks.
These procedures must establish reasonable timeframes for you to prepare your defence, as well as the steps for appealing a decision against you. You can also rely on witnesses and/or have a representative or workmate accompany you to the disciplinary hearings to support you in your defensive efforts.
At the end of the disciplinary procedure, if there are grounds for disciplinary action, your employer must first issue a warning (unless the offence is serious enough to warrant direct dismissal). You could take matters to a tribunal if your employer issues a rash dismissal letter.
Flexible working has been very relevant in recent years in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the advancement of remote work across a vast number of sectors.
In a nutshell, employment law grants employees the right to request flexible conditions, provided that they fulfil certain criteria outlined by law or in the company’s employment policies.
However, flexible working involves more than remote work. These are the requests you may bring forward to your employer:
- Reduction of working hours or change from full-time to part-time work.
- Changes in your arrival and departure hours (start/finish), or flexibility regarding those hours.
- “Compressed hours”, as in, work hours over the span of fewer days.
- The possibility of working from home or elsewhere, either wholly or partially.
- Shared responsibilities or tasks with other workmates.
Moreover, your requests may apply for all working days, for a limited time, or during specific shifts or weeks.
In order to be able to request flexible conditions, you would have to meet the following requirements:
- You must have worked for at least 26 weeks for your employer.
- You ought to be under an employment contract (employee).
- You’d need to not have filed a flexible working request within the 12 months prior to your new request.
What Happens After My Employer Receives My Request?
Your employer is not allowed to brush off the request lightly, even if they may deny it on various grounds.
Rather, they’d have to look at the request thoroughly in accordance with the Acas Code of Practice on flexible working requests and make a decision within the next three months. A negative decision would have to be specific in its motivations and the employer could potentially come up with alternative proposals.
They may also ask you to clarify some points about your request in the meantime and speak to you personally about aspects of it.
Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace
Discrimination is the action of excluding an individual or making them feel belittled due to what the Equality Act 2010 deems a “protected characteristic”. Protected characteristics include age, gender, nationality, ethnicity, and religious or political affiliation, among many others.
Bullying and harassment are unlawful behaviours under the Equality Act 2010. These are actions aimed at making someone feel offended or unsettled either due to protected characteristics, their status as a whistleblower, or merely for personal reasons.
What Should I Do If I’m Being Discriminated Against, Bullied or Harassed?
You should try to solve the issue informally or speak to a trade union representative, HR staff, or the manager. If those mechanisms don’t work, make a formal grievance to your employer.
Lastly, you could take legal action at the employment tribunal. The aid of a trusty employment specialist or Acas employee is always pertinent when cases escalate to those levels.
You can call us on 03334149244 or contact us online via live chat or contact form for immediate assistance.
Workplace Restructure and Transfer of Undertakings (TUPE)
Whenever there is a total or partial transfer of a business or service provision, or there is drastic restructuring in the company, you may be at risk of having your acquired rights within the organisation undermined. For example, your role could be considered “redundant” on a whim or your working conditions might change without any input from your end.
In addition, both the former and new employers are obliged to consult with affected employees about any change in the contractual terms or the company’s policies that might result from the transfer.
Those are potentially claimable offences that may be raised to a judge, especially in the event that a transfer is defined as the “sole or principal” reason for the dismissal.
What Are Employment Tribunals?
Employment tribunals are judicial bodies entrusted with hearing and processing cases related to employment law infractions.
You can always have recourse to an employment tribunal if you have been a victim of unlawful treatment such as unfair dismissal, discrimination, unfair deductions from your payslip, or mishandling of a formal employment dispute, among others.
How Do I File an Employment Tribunal Claim?
Before making a claim, you’d have to first notify Acas, who will then offer you an “Early Conciliation” service. During this time, employers usually propose settlement agreements as well.
If conciliation is not possible, you’ll be given an early conciliation certificate which you can attach to your tribunal claim.
You could make the claim online. After a copy of the claim form has reached the other party/your employer, they have 28 days to respond. The tribunal will then decide if it’s appropriate to organise a hearing. In some cases, the tribunal may not require your presence and issue a verdict directly instead.
How Our Specialist Employment Solicitors Can Help
Employment law can be a tricky area to navigate, especially without specialist legal advice. Our legal team can help you sort out your employment disputes in the following cases:
- Unfair, wrongful, and constructive dismissals
- Flexible working requests
- Discrimination, bullying and harassment at work
- Unlawful wage deductions
- Breach of contractual terms
- Settlement agreement negotiations
We can also assist in making tribunal claims if needs be. You can count on a staff of professional lawyers with ample experience supporting regular employees, casual/agency workers, senior executives and other similar categories.
Don’t hesitate to call us at 03334149244 to find out more about the legal services we provide and get confidential advice from us. We’re always ready to aid you in obtaining a speedy and satisfactory resolution whenever employment disputes arise. We will discuss our fees at your free initial consultation.
If you’re eligible, you’re entitled to claim statutory redundancy pay provided that you were laid off (without less than half a week’s pay or no pay at all) for more than 4 consecutive weeks or 6 non-consecutive weeks within a 13-week timeframe.
Keep in mind that you must possess employee status (not be a worker or self-employed individual).
According to UK employment law, unlawful discrimination can take a wide variety of forms. You could fall victim to direct discrimination, indirect discrimination (which can happen via an enforced policy that targets specific groups), victimisation (different treatment because of past discrimination complaints), or harassment due to a protected characteristic.
In those cases, you have three months from the date of the most recent instance of discrimination to bring your claim to a tribunal.
Unfair dismissal claims must be made within three months minus one day. If the claim is about redundancy pay or equal pay, said period is extended to up to six months.