Your Guide to Employment Solicitors, Tribunals & Law

Employment law can be a complex area to fully understand. There are many issues that have to be dealt with, and the need to have experts to address claims and other proceedings is vital. Employment solicitors specialise in this field of law, and they are the people to go to if a worker is looking to file a claim related to employment. They provide advice and representation to employees on a wide range of rights issues including unfair dismissal, discrimination, redundancy, and other matters.

Overview

Photo of woman with employment solicitors to the rearThe law protects any worker in the United Kingdom. Workers are entitled to employment protection rights. Employers, on the other hand, have rights, too. Employment tribunals decide if claims are valid or not. However, not all cases proceed to the tribunal right away. Since disputes with employers can be complicated, solicitors may advise workers on cost-effective and non-contentious resolution on difficulties they may have with their employers. They can explain what is involved in proceedings and give the best advice and support.

As with medical negligence law, employment law can be complicated, and it is important to seek professional advice. If you are looking for employment law advice, you should seek the help of experienced solicitors who know the technicalities of the labor law and tribunal proceedings. They can provide services that fit your needs. They understand what your work means to you, and you will need their guidance if you wish to pursue formal claims to the tribunal. Choosing experts in the field can uplift your confidence and help you have a good chance to succeed with your claims. They can explain what you can ask for in the case, such as choosing between re-employment and compensation if you have been wrongfully dismissed. It pays to know your rights as a worker and to exercise these to make the most of the effort you put into your job. Studying even the basics can benefit workers, who might not know that their rights are being breached.

Employment Law

Image of statue with scales symbolising employment rights

Employment laws in the UK cover a broad area, from employment contracts to dismissal, and everything in between. Many employers find it important to seek employment law services to ensure they are within the law. Complying with employment laws can result to a satisfied and happier workforce, and saves them the cost and trouble of tribunal claims.

A worker who is hired has a contract, whether in writing or not. Employers have the legal responsibility to provide written statements of employment terms and conditions, and changing these without the worker’s knowledge could be a breach of contract. Regardless of that written statement, employers are also obliged to comply with minimum statutory requirements in terms of salary, annual leave and hours of work. These will include minimum wage, working time rules covering maximum hours at work, and paid holidays. It may also include statutory sick pay for qualified employees.

Employees have a wide range of rights that should be respected by employers. These include providing a safe and healthy working environment and allowing them to join trade unions and issuing pay statements. New mothers and pregnant employees have the right to take time off before and after delivery. If they have been in a company long enough, they should qualify for statutory maternity pay. The same applies to new fathers and adoptive parents.

Employees are also protected against discrimination in terms of color, race, nationality, age, disability, ethnicity, religion, gender preference and other beliefs. It is illegal to discriminate on grounds of sex, marital status or perceived sexual orientation. Employers can be held liable for discrimination by their workers. Employers should also pay statutory sick pay to qualified workers for up to 28 weeks. They should have the right procedures for discipline and grievances, and dismiss employees on valid causes. They could freely avail of sound advice from a competent employment solicitor if they have some important concerns.

Employment Tribunals

Picture of an employment tribunalUnlike many other types of claim, you may not enter a court of law if you pursue a case. Employment tribunals are the institutions with the authority to judge or determine claims and other employment disputes in England, Scotland and Wales. Common disputes they hear include dismissals believed to be unfair, discrimination and redundancy payments. They are part of the UK tribunals system, and are administered by the Tribunals Service. The secretary of State issues statutory rules that constitute and operate the tribunals. These rules set out the institution’s main objectives, procedures, claims’ time limits, and reviews.

A party who wants to make a claim should present and physically deliver a valid prescribed form of Claim Form to an Employment Tribunal office within proper time limit. It can also be presented electronically. If it is late, the tribunal may not be allowed to hear it and the complaint could be dismissed. On the other hand, a party defending the complaint has to present a Response Form to the tribunal handling the claim within 28 days of receiving the Claim Form. If they fail to present the Response Form, it will be forbidden to join proceedings, which could go undefended.

The tribunals can reject a claim or response form if it is not provided on the prescribed form. Some information has to be provided for these forms to be accepted and valid. Rules on time limit are quite complex, but typically, time limit for claims is three months from the date of the act being complained. Extension may be granted if certain conditions are met. A six-month time limit applies to redundancy payments and Equal Pay, which starts from the end of the employment and has no extensions. Tribunals are aimed to be informal and encourage all parties to represent themselves. There are no complex civil procedures set at Country Court. Claimants can consult experienced solicitors to know the steps and learn important employment legislation.

Below Employment Lawyer Laura Milne discusses tribunals and the different fees involved with Sky News.

Constructive Dismissal

Picture of a gagged man who may sue for constructive dismissalConstructive dismissal occurs when an employee resigns because his or her employer’s behaviour has become so unfavourable, or intolerable that there is no other choice but to resign. Resignations can be voluntary, but in this case, in effect, it is termination. If an employer makes life very difficult for a member of staff, with an attempt to have him or her resign, instead of outright firing, the employer can be accused of constructive dismissal (CD). This particular case is defined by the Employment Rights Act of 1996 section 95. The notion of CD arises from fundamental breach of trust and confidence implied in employment contracts.

Some examples of an employer’s breaches of contract include cutting salaries, fringe benefits and overtime or failure to pay, changing job description, workplace and working hours without the worker’s agreement, and arbitrary demotion to a lesser role without reason. If an employer threatens to dismiss a member of staff who does not agree to accept changes to working terms and conditions, and if he makes it impossible for the latter to do his job effectively, CD can also be claimed in these cases.

If an employee decides to make a claim, he or she has three months to do it from the last day of their employment. The claim could be pursued in either the civil court or an employment tribunal. However, for civil courts, the time limit could be as long as six years. A written statement of claims has to be issued. This will include basic information about the worker and his or her former employer, and the allegations of fact supporting the claim of CD. Wrongful dismissal differs from CD. The former is described as a termination that breaches one or more terms of the contract, or a provision in the statutory law. In the UK, it is always associated with lack of notice. Termination of employment should always be based on valid grounds.

Unfair Dismissal

Picturee of a stressed woman who may claim for unfair dismissalUnfair dismissal is a termination of employment without a valid reason, or contrary to the rules of the Employment Rights Act 1996. It is unfair for an employer to dismiss a worker, regardless of length of stay to the company, for discrimination or becoming pregnant. Employers should thus terminate an employee only for lawful reasons, and they should follow a fair procedure. Fair reasons to dismiss include those that relate to the conduct of employee, or gross misconduct, his or her qualifications and capability for the job, redundancy, employment was prohibited to continue due to statutory duty and other justifiable causes. A tribunal will judge the dismissal claims based on the fairness of the employer’s decision to dismiss the employee. A worker with two years of continuous service who is dismissed without a fair reason and treatment can claim that the dismissal is unfair. Dismissal is considered automatically unfair if it is due to whistle blowing, health or safety activities, and illegal discrimination. This rule applies to all employees, regardless of the period of employment.

Claims can be brought before an employment tribunal. Time limits for these claims are short and strict. Typically, it must be brought within three months of the last day of the contract. This is called “three months less a day”. Employees may bring claims themselves, but they can be represented by solicitors and other parties regulated by the Ministry of Justice. They can be supported by trade unions, and conciliation proceedings and independent arbitration can be called. Workers can ask for re-employment or compensation for the dismissal. Fair dismissal is one of the many employee rights, and they can consult competent solicitors for help. Contracts are legally binding agreements, and any form of breach of contract should be claimed appropriately. Employees must be aware of their rights to ensure they are not working under in an unfair or illegal environment. As always, if you are unsure about your particular case and circumstances, please speak to a legal professional.

Employment Rights

Photo of a man shaking the hand of anotherWith many citizens working to survive, employment protection is given by law to ensure fairness and safety to employees. These may stem from contractual rights or those that come from the contract and from statutes called statutory rights. The latter may be particular to individuals. Such as unlawful discrimination, or collective such as union recognition. Every employee is entitled to working rights, while some are entitled to calendar or additional rights.

Employment legislation gives special rights to protect employees in the UK. These are designed to ensure that workers are treated fairly and lawfully. It is important for workers to be aware of these rights. Statutory rights are set by various legislations, including The Employment Rights Act 1996, Employment Relations Act 1999, Employment Act 2002, the National Minimum Wage Act 1998, the Working Time Regulations 1998, The Trade Union and Labour Relations 1992, and the TUPE or Transfer of Undertakings Regulations 2006.

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) sets the minimum wage paid to employees, which should be complied by employers. Currently, the NMW is at £6.50 for workers aged 21 and over. The maximum number of working hours of an employee is 48 hours a week. There should be rest breaks and paid annual leave. Employees are also entitled to maternity and paternity leaves. These are the basic rights every employee needs to know.

Additionally, they should be aware that they must receive written statement of employment terms and conditions that they should not suffer unauthorised deduction from their pay and, they have a right against discrimination. In case they have to be dismissed, there should be valid and justifiable causes. Dismissal cases are now on the rise, which only shows that workers are now more proactive in asserting their legal rights. There is also such a thing as redundancy rights, wherein workers are entitled to pay, notice period, employer consultation, and options to move into another job, and time off to look for a new job.

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Your Guide to Employment Solicitors, Tribunals & Law
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Your Guide to Employment Solicitors, Tribunals & Law
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An independent guide to employment law, employment solicitors, & employment tribunals. We hope our in-depth guide can help you solve your workplace issues.
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