We offer advice and assistance to companies, employers, managers and HR professionals on all areas of employment law and at all stages of the cycle, from recruitment to post-employment references.
Our practical and cost-effective guidance and will clearly explain what your legal options are when recruiting, managing, disciplining and possibly dismissing your employees. We have been helping both employers and employees with employment law issues for many years and our experience in dealing with both sides of an employment problem means we have extensive knowledge and understanding of what is required to achieve the best outcome should an employment dispute arise.

Settlement Agreements

A Settlement Agreement (previously known as a Compromise Agreement) is a voluntary legally-binding written contract, where an employer and employee terminate employment on agreed terms.

Employers may wish to offer a Settlement Agreement to employees they are making redundant or to avoid going to an Employment Tribunal, as it is a much quicker and simpler procedure. Should you need to terminate an employee’s employment, using a Settlement Agreement enables you to offer an employee a sum of money to facilitate a swifter termination of their employment, and help protect your business against future claims as the employee will be unable to make a claim about any type of claim which is listed in the agreement, such as unfair dismissal.

In essence, a Settlement Agreement financially compensates the employee whilst limiting the employer’s liability so that a line is drawn under the end of the employment relationship with a “clean break” being achieved. Because of this, the law states that employees should seek independent legal advice to have any Settlement Agreement offered to them reviewed and, if appropriate, negotiating the terms. This legal advice is normally paid for by the employer in terms of a financial contribution.

How we can help
We can help you draft a Settlement Agreement in light of the background to the termination and can negotiate on your behalf where necessary.
A Settlement Agreement financially compensates an employee, whilst limiting the employer’s liability, so that a line is drawn under the end of the employment relationship


Unfortunately, employers may find that they need to close a work place, restructure their business or reduce overheads as a result of a downturn in the economy. If that is the case, they may need to make some of their employees redundant and to do so they need to carefully follow set redundancy procedures.

Making an employee redundant isn’t the same thing as dismissing them for poor performance or a disciplinary matter, and can only happen when an employee’s role within a company ceases to exist. It is the responsibility of the employer to make ensure their employees are treated fairly, which ranges from exploring possible alternative employment to ensuring they receive the full redundancy package they are entitled to.

Redundancy Process

Before starting the redundancy process, an employer has to be completely sure there are no alternatives to solve the issue causing the potential redundancy, including changes to their employee’s terms and conditions that, for example, reduce working hours or pay.

The redundancy procedure is a legal requirement for all businesses, and employers need to follow it carefully. This includes:

Even if a redundancy situation is genuine, failure to follow the correct procedure can result in a finding of unfair dismissal at an Employment Tribunal. While the right to claim unfair dismissal only arises after two complete years of service, selection for a discriminatory reason can also result in a claim from the beginning of the employment relationship.

There are some situations where an employer may wish to offer a Settlement Agreement– a voluntary legally binding contract that can be used to end an employment relationship on agreed terms between the employer and the employee. A much quicker procedure that the formal redundancy route, Settlement Agreements also ensure that if an employee is dismissed, they will be unable to make an employment tribunal claim about any type of claim which is listed in the agreement such as unfair dismissal.

Redundancy for employees on maternity, adoption or paternity leave
If an employee is on maternity, adoption, paternity, or shared parental and is part of the redundancy pool, they may have some preferential rights over other employees on any suitable alternative vacancies that are appropriate to their skills.
How we can help
We can provide you with advice and guidance if you need to consider redundancy to ensure you correctly follow the redundancy process.
Even if a redundancy situation is genuine, failure to follow the correct procedure can result in a finding of unfair dismissal

Unfair Dismissal & Constructive Dismissal

If an employee has worked continuously for an employer at least two years, they cannot be dismissed without a fair reason, otherwise the termination of the employment may be viewed as an unfair dismissal. There are five fair reasons for dismissing an employee:

  1. conduct/misconduct – their behaviour amounts to misconduct, serious or gross misconduct at or outside of work
  2. capability/performance – their health or abilities makes them incapable or unwilling to do a job to a required standard
  3. redundancy – their role ceases to exist and there is no alternative employment
  4. breach of statute – where their continued employment would contravene a statute e.g. if a lorry driver lost their driving licence
  5. some other substantial reason – this will depend on the facts of each case but an example might be a serious personality clash with another employee.
Unfair Dismissal

An employee only has three months from the date their employment was terminated, to claim unfair dismissal.

An employee may bring an unfair dismissal claim against you if you have dismissed them without fair reason or did not follow your company’s formal disciplinary process. There are several things to check to see if your employee has grounds for an unfair dismissal case, including the nature of their employment. Generally speaking, an unfair dismissal case can only be brought against an employer if the employee:

It is important to provide your employee with a written reason for their dismissal – legally, you must provide an explanation within two weeks of an employee’s request.
Constructive Dismissal

If an employee has resigned from a job because they felt unable to work due to an employer’s or fellow employees’ actions, they may be able to make a claim against their employer for constructive unfair dismissal, as long as they have worked for their employer for least two years.

Constructive dismissal must amount to a fundamental breach of contract, it is not sufficient that the employee feels the employers has acted ‘unreasonably’, which might be one serious incident or a series of incidents when taken together are serious.

Claims for constructive can arise for a number of reasons, for example, the employee:

That being said, the fundamental breach can be a continuing course of conduct which culminates in a “last straw’ and the final incident does not in itself need to be a fundamental breach. Note, if the employee does not leave quickly after the alleged incident(s) their employer may argue that they have accepted the treatment and a constructive dismissal will not have occurred.
How we can help
If an employee brings either an unfair or constructive dismissal against you, our employment solicitors will be happy to discuss your case with you, explaining the legal complexities and letting you know your options.
There are five fair reasons for dismissing an employee

Dismissals & Disciplinaries

If you need to discipline an employee for performance, conduct or absence issues you need to ensure that the correct processes are followed in order to remain compliant with your legal obligations. If you do not follow the proper process a dismissal that might otherwise be fair could be considered unfair, or even if a fair process is followed, a dismissal might be judged too harsh or being inconsistent with the way others have been treated for the same offence.
Disciplinary Procedure

Your disciplinary procedure should be in writing and made easily available to all staff e.g. in a staff handbook. Some employers also put their disciplinary procedures in their employee’s employment contracts, which if not followed could result in a claim for breach of contract. Your disciplinary procedure should clearly say what performance and behaviour might lead to disciplinary action and what action an employer might take. It should also include the name of someone an employee can speak to if they do not agree with the employer’s disciplinary decision.

If you discipline an employee you need to follow a prescribed process:

If you do not follow this process that in itself does not give your employee a reason for a claim against you, but if they do take you to an Employment Tribunal and win, it may mean they could get a larger settlement.
Grievance Procedure
By law employers must set out a grievance procedure and share it in writing with all employees, e.g. in a staff handbook. It must include:
How we can help
If you are unsure about your disciplinary or grievance procedures or an employee has brought a claim against you, we can advise you on your legal obligations and rights, and assist in agreeing a resolution with your employee.
Employers must set out their disciplinary and grievance procedures in writing and share them with all employees


If an employer asks to change an employee’s contractual terms and conditions, they need to be clear from the outset why they are seeking to make the changes and show evidence they can be justified. Changing an employment contract is not a simple procedure and has a number of serious legal implications if an employer does not do it correctly.
Contract Changes

An employer may wish to alter an employee’s existing contractual terms and conditions, due to a business reorganisation or economic reason, for example, the financial impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. Changes an employer may wish to make to the terms and conditions of a contract can include pay cuts, changing hours or place of work, job duties and entitlement to certain benefits.

Contractual terms in an employment contract cannot be changed without an employee’s agreement, unless this is permitted by the contract itself with a variation clause. Even if such a clause exists, it may not be effective unless carefully worded and a fair procedure followed – any ambiguity will likely be construed in the employees’ favour as Courts and Employment Tribunals often view such clauses as undermining trust and confidence considerations.

If no agreement can be reached, an employer can terminate an employee’s existing contract and offer continued employment on new terms. However, this constitutes a dismissal in law and the employee will be able to bring unfair dismissal claims if they have 2 years’ service. Whether the dismissal is fair depends on why the changes are needed and if the employers can establish that they had a substantial reason. However, a tribunal would always expect there to have been consultation and an attempt to reach agreement first.

If you plan to change the contracts 20 or more employees and/or considering dismissing and re-employing these staff on new terms, collective redundancy regulations will apply.

Restrictive Covenants
Most terms of a contract of employment cover the usual provisions of job title, salary, holidays, sick leave, and notice periods. However, an employer may wish to restrict an employee’s actions post-termination, by including restrictive covenants within the contract.
How we can help
If you want to make changes to your employee contracts and/or want legal advice to ensure the proper legal procedure is been followed we can advise you on the provisions before you propose them and advise on your obligations.
Changing an employment contract is not a simple procedure and has a number of serious legal implications if an employer does not do it correctly


The law seeks to provide a level playing field at work so that people are employed, paid, trained and promoted only because of their skills and performance. There is no minimum length of employment requirement for an employee to make a discrimination claim and protection starts from when a role is advertised through to the last day of employment and beyond, including references.
Forms of discrimination in the work place

Discrimination at work can be direct or indirect. Under the law there are 9 protected characteristics and discrimination occurs when an employee is treated unfairly because of:

  1. age
  2. disability
  3. gender reassignment
  4. marriage or civil partnership
  5. pregnancy and maternity
  6. race or colour
  7. religion or belief
  8. sex
  9. sexual orientation

The Equality Act 2010 sets out four main types of discrimination:

  1. Direct Discrimination: This is discrimination against an employee because of one or more of the protected characteristics named above.
  2. Indirect Discrimination: This is where a policy or practice in the workplace causes a considerably smaller proportion of those with a protected characteristic to be unable to comply with the policy or practice than those who do not have the protected characteristic or who have a different protected characteristic.
  3. Victimisation: This is where an employee is treated less favourably because they have or might complain about discrimination or support someone else’s complaint about discrimination.
  4. Harassment: This is when an employee is subjected to unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct related to a protected characteristic which violates their dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. It can include behaviour that individuals find offensive even if it’s not directed at them, and even if they do not have the relevant protected characteristic themselves.
How we can help
We will provide you with guidance and advice should an employee bring a claim of discrimination at work. We can advise on the strengths of the claim and help you try to resolve matters.
Protection from discrimination starts from when a role is advertised through to the last day of employment and beyond, including references

Flexible Working

The government originally introduced the right to apply for flexible working in April 2003 to parents of children under the age of five. This right was extended over time and the current position is that in addition to parents with young children, employees are now entitled to seek the right to work on a flexible basis where they have disabled dependants under the age of 17 or 18, and also if the employee has caring responsibilities for a partner or family member.

Under current law, if an employee wants to switch from full-time to part-time hours and they have been employed for 26 weeks, they have the right to make that request of their employer. The employer does not have to agree to the request, but they must consider it in a reasonable manner, follow a specific procedure and are be obliged to consider the request in accordance with statutory timescales.

The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill reached Royal Assent on 20 July 2023 and is expected to come into force in 2024 – see our article for more details on what this will mean for employers and employees and flexible working. The Act will require employers to consider and discuss any flexible working requests made by their employees relating to working hours or patterns including part-time, term-time, flexi-time, compressed hours, adjusting start and finish times, or where someone works, whether that be from home or a satellite office shortening their commute.


How we can help
We will advise you on your rights and guide you through the procedures if an employee applies for flexible working hours.
An employer does not have to agree to flexible working but they must reasonably consider it, follow a procedure and keep within statutory timescales


The Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment Regulations (TUPE)
The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 is generally known as “TUPE”. These Regulations effectively provide obligations on current and new employers when a business transfer takes place and employees, are transferred. This situation can occur when a business, or part of a business, is merged or sold.
TUPE in straightforward terms largely means that employees are entitled to transfer to the new employer with their existing terms and conditions being “protected”. It means that if an employee was employed directly before the transfer, they automatically become an employee of the new employer, unless they object to being transferred and notify either employer. An employee’s continuity of employment remains unbroken and they retain all the rights and obligations under their contract of employment with their former employer. It also means that an employee cannot be lawfully dismissed in connection with the transfer (except in limited circumstances) and that they and their employee representative must be informed (and consulted with) regarding the proposed transfer.

The new and old employers have an obligation to inform and consult with the employees regarding the transfer of their employment and any implications for them. Failure to comply can lead to each employee being awarded up to 13 weeks’ pay in addition to any compensation for unfair dismissal.

The outgoing employer also needs to provide the new employer with prescribed information about the transferring employees. Failure to provide that information correctly at least 14 days before the transfer can lead to a claim from the new employer and a tribunal award of at least £500 in relation to each employee affected.

TUPE offers protection so that when a business is merged or sold the employees retain their existing terms and conditions
There can be costly penalties for employers who fail to comply with TUPE procedures and their obligations. We can advise on the TUPE process and/or any related unfair dismissal claims.

news & insights

Our insights into the law in plain English, so you know when it happens, what it means, and how it may affect you.

Flexible Working Bill gets Royal Assent

The Act will require employers to consider and discuss any flexible working requests made by their employees.

PODCAST: Settlement Agreements – What Employees and Employers should know

In our podcast, find out why and how Settlement Agreements are used, and what should be considered when drafting and/or signing one.

Government announces new ‘smart’ Employment Regulation Plans

Proposals include restricting time limits in non-compete clauses and allowing rolled up holiday pay


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