Employment And Work Problems

Problems at work can be very stressful, and need to be addressed quickly to sort them out. As an employee, you have various legal rights that protect you from unfair treatment, discrimination, harassment, etc., in the workplace.

Grievance And Disciplinary Issues

If you raise a grievance with your employer, or they start disciplinary proceedings against you, the process should be handled without undue delay and should be confidential. The procedure should follow a best practice standard, with an investigation, and possibly a formal hearing and the possibility of appeal.

We can advise you on the procedure to follow, help in preparing any paperwork and evidence, and advise on your prospects of success.

Redundancy And Settlement Agreements

Notice of redundancy, or even just the risk of redundancy, will often be an unwelcome surprise. It can be very distressing and unnerving. If you have at least two years’ continuous employment at the point you are made redundant, then you are entitled to a redundancy payment.

You may be offered a settlement agreement, which will have details of the proposed severance package such as the redundancy payment, any ex gratia payment, etc. Your employer must offer to contribute to your legal fees in taking advice on the settlement agreement. It is important to take advice, because once the agreement is signed, you will not be able to bring an employment-related claim against your employer.

We can advise you on your situation and the redundancy package you have been offered. We can usually negotiate a better settlement for you.

Unfair Dismissal And Constructive Dismissal

Every employee has the right not to be dismissed unfairly. An example of unfair dismissal would be if your role was terminated due to your taking maternity leave, or for health and safety reasons, or because you are a ‘whistle-blower’. If your employer does not have a good reason for dismissing you, or they have failed to follow a formal disciplinary or dismissal process, you may be able to make a claim for damages for unfair dismissal.

If you have been forced to leave your job because of harassment, bullying or breach of contract by your employer – if you felt had no option but to leave – then this may amount to ‘constructive dismissal’.

Examples are where you have been forced to accept unreasonable changes to your shift pattern, or if you have been demoted without good reason. This can give grounds for a claim for unfair dismissal.
We can advise you on your circumstances and whether you have grounds for a claim, and if so the best way to pursue it.

Restrictive Covenants

Employers often include restrictions within an employment contract, which seek to prevent employees doing certain things once their employment is over, such as working for a rival business. The employer’s intention is to protect themselves against the employee using the knowledge and information gained at the workplace for the benefit of their new business.

These restrictions are called ‘restrictive covenants’, and will typically require the employee to agree not to work for a business in the same industry for (say) 12 months after leaving. They might also require the employee not to work for a rival in the same town, or not to solicit work from customers.

Employers are very keen on restrictive covenants, but the clauses can be so draconian that they are not enforceable. Accordingly, if your contract contains a restrictive covenant which seeks to prevent you moving on to a new employer, you should take advice on whether it has any force.#

Costs And Time Limits

There is no fee to pay to bring a claim to an Employment Tribunal, such as an unfair dismissal or discrimination claim, although you will need to pay your solicitors’ costs. If you win the claim, your employer will normally be ordered to pay you back these costs. If you lose the claim, the tribunal has the power to order you to pay back your employer’s costs, although this is rare.

The time limit for issuing a claim at the tribunal is very short: three months less one day from your last day of employment (for an unfair dismissal claim) or from when the discrimination happened (for a discrimination claim). So if your last day of employment is 15 March, the claim must be issued by 14 June.

Getting It Right From The Start

Your employment contract is an important document, because it sets out your rights and responsibilities at work, as well as those of your employer. When you start work your employer should give you an employment contract to sign (or at least a written statement of terms), and you should go through it carefully to understand exactly what you are being asked to agree to.

The contract should specify your job description, days and hours of work, salary and holiday allowance, etc. It should also set out any bonus, pension and other benefits you are entitled to, as well as any restrictive covenants.

We can review your employment contract before you sign it, and advise you fully on the terms and whether you should seek to negotiate amendments with your new employer.

We can advise and represent you in the following areas. Click on each one for more information.

– Breach Of Covenant
– Grievance And Disciplinary
– Redundancy And Dismissal
– Settlement Agreements

Make A Free Enquiry

All initial enquiries are completely free of charge. Call us now on  01291 639280, email info@feakes-legal.com, or complete our Free Online Enquiry for a free no-obligation discussion, and let us explain your legal rights and options.