EMPLOYMENT SOLICITORS IN HENLEY & READING
When your job is in jeopardy, or you are being made to feel uncomfortable at work, it can be both lonely and stressful, for you and those around you. In those circumstances, we believe you need support and practical, decisive advice on your rights and the best way forward.
If you are having difficulty with your employer and feel that you have been discriminated against, or treated unfairly, our specialist employment solicitors can quickly provide you with legal advice and assistance. Our employment lawyers offer practical and cost-effective guidance, will clearly explain what your legal options are, including formally take up the matter with your employer on your behalf, and if necessary, take the matter to an Employment Tribunal for you.
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 to an employment dispute.
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 much quicker and simpler procedure, which also means the employee will have a reduced time to wait for compensation payments. However, Settlement Agreements also ensure those dismissed will be unable to make a claim against their employer 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.
Before starting the redundancy process, your employer has to be completely sure there are no alternatives to solve the issue causing the potential redundancy, including changes to your 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 you 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 you are dismissed you will be unable to make an employment tribunal claim about any type of claim which is listed in the agreement such as unfair dismissal. Because of this, employers are normally required to contribute towards the legal costs of their employees as a Settlement Agreement must be ‘signed off’ by an appropriate legal adviser.
Unfair Dismissal & Constructive Dismissal
If you have been dismissed and your employer did not have a fair reason for dismissing you or they did not follow the company’s formal disciplinary process, you may have an opportunity to bring an unfair dismissal claim.
It is important to ask your employer for a written reason for your dismissal – legally, they must provide an explanation within two weeks of your request.
You only have three months from the date your employment was terminated, so if you have been dismissed or threatened with dismissal and you don’t believe that any of these reasons apply, please contact us as soon as possible. If you have recently been unfairly dismissed (either for a fair reason or through a fair procedure) then we can help you make a claim at the Employment Tribunal.
If you have resigned from your job because you felt unable to work due to your employer’s actions, we may be able to help you make a claim for constructive unfair dismissal, as long as you’ve worked there for your employer for least two years.
Constructive dismissal occurs when your employer has treated you so badly, or hasn’t stopped others in the workplace treating you badly, that you have no choice but to resign. This can situation can arise for a number of reasons, for example:
It is important to note that your employer must have breached a fundamental term of your contract of employment, leading you to resign – it is not sufficient that your employer has just acted ‘unreasonably’. 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. You must also act quickly, even if just to get legal advice before you resign, as if you do not leave quickly after the incident(s) your employer may argue that you have accepted the treatment and a constructive dismissal will not have occurred.
If you feel you are getting to the stage than you have no choice but to resign because your employer won’t act to help you, or have recently resigned, it is good to talk to an employment solicitor to find out if the events and actions that have led you to this decision mean you can bring a claim of constructive dismissal claim.
Dismissals & Disciplinaries
If your employer does not follow this process that in itself does not give you reason for a claim, but if you do take them to an Employment Tribunal and win, it may mean could get a larger settlement.
Your employer may also have put their disciplinary procedure in your employment contract – if that is the case and they do not follow these procedures you may be able to bring a claim against them for breach of contract.
Have you received a contract of employment? Do you understand all the terms included? Does your employer wish to change your existing terms?
If an employer asks to change your terms and conditions the situation can become can be stressful and difficult, as often the employer is asking you to make changes you may feel are detrimental to you personally.
Your employer needs to be clear from the outset why they are seeking to change your contractual terms and show evidence they can be justified. Changing your employment contract is not a simple procedure and has a number of serious legal implications if your employer does not do it correctly.
Your employer may wish to alter your 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 your contract 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 your 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 your favour as Courts and Employment Tribunals often view such clauses as undermining trust and confidence considerations.
If no agreement can be reached, your employer can terminate your existing contract and offer continued employment on new terms. However, this constitutes a dismissal in law and you will be able to bring unfair dismissal claims if you have 2 years’ service. Whether the dismissal is fair depends on why the changes are needed and if your employers can establish that they had a reasonable substantial reason. However, a tribunal would always expect there to have been consultation and an attempt to reach agreement first. If your employer plans 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.
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 are laws in place to protect you from discrimination in the workplace and if you feel you have been discriminated against at work, our employment law solicitors may be able to help you make a complaint and claim compensation.
There is no minimum length of employment requirement for a discrimination claim and protection starts from when a role is advertised through to the last day of employment and beyond, including references.
Discrimination at work can be direct or indirect but whatever form it takes, it should not happen regardless if you work part-time, are on a fixed-term contract, or large or small your employer is. Under the law there are 9 protected characteristics and discrimination occurs when you’re treated unfairly because of:
- gender reassignment
- marriage and civil partnership
- pregnancy and maternity
- race or colour
- religion or belief
- sexual orientation
If you want to switch from full-time to part-time hours and you’ve been employed for 26 weeks, the law says you have the right to make that request of your employer. They don’t have to agree to your request, but they must consider it in a reasonable manner.
You will have to follow a specific procedure should you seek to work on a flexible basis, and your employer will be obliged to consider your 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.