Whether you’re an employee or an employer, there are many different and ever-changing areas of employment law and at some point, you may need specialist legal advice.
A settlement agreement may follow a protected conversation, and essentially summarises the terms of the employment termination.
We can draft Settlement Agreements and give guidance as to how you can have those tricky protected conversations with an employee. We also advise employees on Settlement Agreements.
Settlement agreements are legally binding contracts between an employer and employee normally used to bring an employment relationship to an end in a mutually agreed way.
Employees with a settlement agreement are required by law to seek independent legal advice before signing. Almost all settlement agreements include a contribution to the employee’s legal fees for having the settlement agreement reviewed and agreed with a solicitor.
Our expert employment solicitors can advise employees on the settlement agreement terms and level of compensation and whether they have grounds for an unfair dismissal claim.
For guidance on what you should do if your employer has offered you a settlement agreement check out our blog https://samuelphillips.co.uk/blog/what-should-i-do-if-my-employer-has-offered-me-a-settlement-agreement/.
To bring forward an unfair dismissal claim an employee must, in most cases, have the requisite qualifying period of continuous service, which is currently 2 years.
In considering if the dismissal is unfair, an Employment Tribunal would first consider the principal reason for dismissal and whether this is a potentially fair reason, and then consider the reasonableness of the decision for that reason. The potentially fair reasons for dismissal include misconduct, performance and capability, redundancy or some other substantial reason.
In some circumstances, a dismissal could be deemed automatically unfair if the dismissal is connected to pregnancy, childbirth, health and safety activities, whistleblowing or exercising various statutory rights, in which case there is no minimum length of service.
Constructive dismissal is when an employee is forced to leave their job because of the employer’s conduct. Examples could be that the employer failed to pay the employee’s wages, or if the employer has imposed changes to terms and conditions without consent, and as a result, the employee feels that they have to leave.
From the date of unfair or constructive dismissal, the employee generally only has 3 months less 1 day to make an unfair dismissal claim. It is therefore extremely important that the employee obtains legal advice as soon as possible.
We act for both employers and employees in the above circumstances, and can provide representation up to and including an Employment Tribunal hearing if necessary.
Contracts, Staff Handbooks, Policies and Procedures
Whether it is reviewing pre-existing documentation to ensure they are fit for purpose or drafting new contracts and policies, Samuel Phillips are able to assist.
For employers, we invite you to review our Biz-Care Scheme, which includes the review and production of up-to-date documentation, and may be a more cost effective way for work in this area to be complete. A bespoke quotation can be provided on request and is dependant upon your wage roll, number of employees and last 3 years claims history. Find out more about Biz-Care here or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
For employees, we are available to review contract of employment and provide any assistance with regards to any queries that may arise.
Disciplinary Processes and Performance Management
When following either a disciplinary or performance management procedure, employers need to ensure the process is fair and thorough to avoid possible exposure to claims such as unfair dismissal or breach of contract.
Our employment solicitors can help your business:
- Draft and implement appropriate policies and procedures
- Review existing procedures
- Provide guidance on internal processes
- Manage and provide direct support through individual cases
- Draft correspondence
If you are an employee faced with disciplinary action who feels that your employer has not followed the correct disciplinary procedure or the ACAS Code of Practice, our employment solicitors can provide specialist advice and guide you towards a satisfactory outcome.
An employer should follow a fair redundancy process, and a failure to do so can expose an employer to a claim of unfair dismissal.
A fair process comprises a number of stages:
- fair basis for selection, including selection pool and criteria; and
- consideration of alternative employment
At Samuel Phillips we can advise both employers and employees on the correct process that needs to be followed.
We can support employers to reduce the risks of failing to follow a fair process, and we can advise employees if they think that their employers have failed to satisfy the requirements of a fair process.
Restructuring may involve changes to roles/job titles and a change to the overall structure of the business, and/or the redistributing work of a business among its current employees. It could also result in changes to terms and conditions, and a reduction in the numbers of staff, and therefore this type of work is often interchangeable with redundancy situations and contractual variations.
As Samuel Phillips we are able to assist with any restructuring queries and employment implications this may have.
A grievance procedure is a formal way for an employee to raise a problem or complaint to their employer. An employee can raise a grievance if they feel raising it informally has failed to reach an agreeable conclusion or they do not want it dealt with informally.
As an employer would you know what to do if you received a complaint from an employee?
Having a clear and concise grievance procedure will ensure that you take the right steps to address grievances. We can guide you through the grievance procedure and ensure that you are compliant with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary & Grievance procedures.
Our employment law solicitors can also help employees on how best to present their grievances to their employers.
There are various protected characteristics that an employer should be aware of, and which should not form the basis for discrimination, and these are age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
At Samuel Phillips Law we can advise both employers and employees in situations where there are concerns that discriminatory behaviour has or may take place, or where complaints about such treatment have been raised.
TUPE stands for Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment). A TUPE transfer happens when an organisation, or part of it, is transferred from one employer to another or a service is transferred to a new provider.
TUPE regulations protect your rights as an employee when you transfer to a new employer
Whether it be a business transfer or a service provision change, we’re on hand to help employers understand your employment law responsibilities under TUPE including your responsibility to provide Employee Liability Information, obligations to inform and consult employees about measures, the automatic transfer principle and pension rights.
Employees who believe their employer has fallen foul of the TUPE regulations should also seek specialist employment law advice and the team at Samuel Phillips Law are here to help.
A whistleblower is a person, often an employee, who discloses information about activity within a private or public organization that is deemed illegal, immoral, illicit, unsafe or fraudulent.
The Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) was established to ensure that employees who engage in protected disclosure are free from fear of reprisal for their disclosures.
If an employee makes a qualifying, protected disclosure, which in the reasonable belief of the worker shows a qualifying failure and the worker believes making the disclosure is in the public interest, then subjecting that worker to a detriment or dismissing that worker for making that disclosure could be costly. We advise employers how to handle whistleblowing complaints received from employees.
The employment law team at Samuel Phillips Law also act for employees in claims for unfair dismissal for making a whistleblowing complaint and in claims where workers have suffered less favourable treatment for having blown the whistle.
We do the majority of our own advocacy so you have the same solicitor throughout the case up to and including a hearing in the Employment Tribunal. We also represent clients in the Employment Appeal Tribunal, High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and the European Court of Justice.
We can represent professionals such as doctors, lawyers and teachers in regulatory proceedings.
Internal Workplace Investigations
When conducting workplace investigations, employees must take fair and reasonable employment decisions. We are able to conduct sensitive internal investigations of grievance or disciplinary issues as an independent law firm when an employer may benefit from external support, particularly if a situation is complex.
Frequently asked questions
How do I start a claim?
Almost all Employment Tribunal claims start by contacting the ACAS Early Conciliation service. This is a mandatory requirement. ACAS will see if the parties can reach an agreed settlement, including a monetary settlement, without the need for Employment Tribunal proceedings to be commenced at all. If that’s not possible, or one of the parties decides not to engage in conciliation, it will issue an Early Conciliation certificate which has a unique reference number on it which is needed to start a claim in the Employment Tribunal.
Are there any time limits for bringing an Employment Tribunal claim
Yes, most claims have to be brought within 3 months (less one day) of the date of dismissal or act/omission complained of. That now means that you have to contact ACAS’s Early Conciliation service within that timescale. The period during which ACAS conciliates effectively “stops the clock” such that the time limit is extended by the number of days ACAS attempts to conciliate. It is important to retain the ACAS Early Conciliation certificate so that the time limit can be calculated accurately by your solicitor.
How long will my case take?
This depends on a number of factors including how complex your case is, how much documentation there is, how many witnesses there are and the length of the Hearing. The Employment Tribunal aims for cases to reach a final hearing within 6 months of them being issued. If the case has a longer hearing, say 5+ days, it may take longer than this. It also depends on which Tribunal your case is issued in as in some areas it takes longer for a case to be listed for hearing.
What might I receive in terms of compensation if my claim is successful?
In claims for unfair dismissal, you would expect to receive a basic award (equivalent to a statutory redundancy payment) and a compensatory award for loss of earnings, capped at either 12 months net pay or £86,444 (from 06.04.2019), whichever is lower. This could be increased by up to 25% if your employer has failed to follow the ACAS Code of Practice in Disciplinary & Grievance Procedures. The Employment Tribunal may also reduce your compensation if you have failed to mitigate your loss, you contributed to your dismissal by your conduct, if you would have been dismissed had a fair procedure been followed and/or if you failed to follow the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary & Grievance procedures.
In discrimination and whistleblowing claims, there is no upper limit on the compensation for loss of earnings and you can also claim for injury to feelings. The value of an injury feelings claim varies depending upon the severity of the injury. In less serious cases, the injury will fall within the lower band of £900 – £8,600, more serious injuries fall within the band of £8,600 – £25,700 and the most serious injuries fall within the upper band of £25,700 – £42,900. Tribunals will only award more than £42,900 in cases of exceptionally serious injuries.
What will it cost?
Please see our pricing information here. In Employment Tribunal proceedings each party pays their own costs regardless of the outcome, save in exceptional cases if a party has behaved vexatiously, abusively, disruptively or otherwise unreasonably in the bringing/conducting of proceedings or the claim has no prospects of success.
You may wish to consider whether you have legal expenses cover on existing household policies which you may be able to utilise to fund your claim. If your claim, meets our criteria, we may be able to offer to represent you on a “no win, no fee” damages based agreement.
Is there anywhere else I can bring my claim?
Some contractual claims, particularly claims for breach of contract during employment, claims for breach of contract over £25,000 and claims for unlawful deductions from wages may be brought in the County Court rather than the Employment Tribunal. There is a 6-year time limit for bringing such claims in the County Court but the County Court charges fees at various stages of the claim and if you lose your claim, you are generally required to pay your opponent’s costs.
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