For Individuals

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Employment Law for Employees

Being involved in an issue at work can be incredibly stressful to handle, with the potential impacts extending to more than just your professional life.

Clearly understanding your rights as an employee is absolutely essential to ensure that you are being treated fairly at work. Where you believe that you are being let down by your employer, it’s important that you seek expert legal guidance from specialist employment solicitors to make sure that your best interests are being firmly protected.

At Kingsfords, we provide a specialist service in all areas of employment law, whether it be in relation to resolving disputes or reviewing employment documents such as contracts of employment.

Our employment solicitors will provide clear, straightforward, and practical legal advice at all times. No matter what your circumstances may be, our employment law solicitors will always have your best interests at heart, taking every possible step to achieve the best possible result.

We can deal with disputes arising in the workplace from unfair dismissal claims, data protection, and redundancies to maternity rights. Our dedicated team will guide you through the ever-evolving employment law and case law and provide practical, tailor-made solutions to the problems arising in employment disputes.

Some of our employment law services include:

  • Breach of Contract
  • Bullying
  • Confidential Information
  • Data Protection Disputes
  • Disciplinary Procedures
  • Dismissals
  • Advising on Settlement Agreements
  • Advising on Employment Contracts or Terms of Employment
  • Advising on Staff Handbook and other Policy Documents
  • Employment Tribunal Claims
  • Employment Termination
  • Employee Benefits and Incentives
  • Equal Pay Disputes
  • Representation at Mediations
  • Grievance Procedures
  • Gross Misconduct/Misconduct
  • Maternity Rights
  • Poor Performance
  • Race Discrimination
  • Redundancy
  • Re-structuring and Re-organisations
  • Senior Executive Appointments and Service Agreements
  • Settlement Agreements
  • Sex Discrimination
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Suspensions
  • TUPE Transfers
  • Unfair Constructive Dismissals
  • Unfair Dismissals
  • Warnings
  • Wrongful Dismissals

We are confident that we will deliver an efficient professional service and fulfil all of your requirements.

Get in touch with our employment law solicitors for employees

To arrange a fixed fee price for an initial consultation with our employment solicitors in Kent, contact us in AshfordCranbrook or Hythe or give us a call on 01233 665544. If this meets your approval, we can quickly arrange an appointment for you to see one of our employment solicitors.

Our employment law expertise

Dismissals

Where you have been fired, or informed that you are at risk of losing your job, this does not necessarily mean that you are out of options, or that you your future career should also be effected.

If you have been dismissed from work without good reason, or due to some form of discrimination, our specialist solicitors in employment law will be able to review your situation and advise on your options.

We can advise on all types of dismissal matters, including:

  • Wrongful dismissals
  • Unfair dismissals
  • Constructive dismissals
  • Redundancy
  • Employment termination

Employment contracts

Employment contracts can be particularly complex, especially as the finer details can often be hidden away or difficult to understand at first glance. However, getting to grips with an employment contract and its significance is crucial, especially where a potential breach of contract occurs, or your employer is undergoing a restructure.

Our employment solicitors can work with you to review your employment contract and the terms of your employment, as well as advising on your rights with regards to matters such as TUPE transfers, your maternity rights and general contractual disputes.

Our employment contract expertise includes:

  • Breach of contract
  • Equal pay disputes
  • Benefits and incentives
  • Employment contacts and terms of employment
  • Senior Executive Appointments and Service Agreements
  • TUPE Transfers
  • Maternity rights
  • Restructuring and reorganisations
  • Advising on Staff Handbook and other Policy Documents

Grievance and disciplinary

If you need to take action against an employer and raise a grievance, it is normal to feel isolated and even question whether you are doing the right thing. However, if your rights have been breached by your employer, it is essential that you fully understand the grievance procedure and are well prepared for any future hearings.

Similarly, being subject to disciplinary procedures from your employer when you believe that you have not acted in breach of your contract can be daunting, but our employment dispute solicitors can carefully review your situation and guide you through the best course of action.

  • Grievance procedures
  • Disciplinary Procedures
  • Poor performance
  • Suspensions
  • Gross misconduct
  • Confidential Information
  • Data Protection Disputes
  • Warnings

Discrimination

The law protects anyone with certain characteristics from being discriminated at work and during the recruitment process. The Equality Act 2010 outlines nine protected characteristics, which are:

  • Age
  • Gender reassignment or affirmation
  • Marital status
  • Pregnancy or maternity
  • Disability
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

If you have faced discrimination from a current employer, former employer or prospective employers, our skilled employment solicitors in Kent are here to help you. Our expertise includes:

  • Bullying
  • Race Discrimination
  • Sex Discrimination
  • Sexual Harassment

Settlement agreements and employment tribunal

A settlement agreement is a legally binding contact which you and your employer enter into voluntarily, providing a solution to the employment issue you are facing. It will typically include a financial payment, non-financial benefits, and will formally conclude your employment.

Our employment solicitors have extensive experience in both drafting settlement agreements and advising on their terms. With our support and guidance, you can be certain that you will receive a fair settlement that matches your requirements.

Where negotiating a settlement agreement with your former employer is not possible, or unsuitable, we can also guide you through the process of taking a matter to the Employment Tribunal.

Our employment law advice fees

In the current economic climate, we recognise more than ever the need to provide our employment legal services at a reasonable cost. At Kingsfords, we are innovative in our approach to providing packages which are appropriate for you as an individual. For example, we can provide fixed fees (so that you know exactly how much it will cost) or in certain circumstances we can offer a contingency fee agreement* (where you only pay our fees if you are successful).

* Such agreements are offered at Kingsfords Solicitor's discretion.

When advising an employee on the terms and effect of a settlement agreement the employer will normally pay a contribution towards his/her costs. Whilst the contribution may not in some instances cover the full cost, it will obviously help reduce the overall cost that you have to pay.

Frequently asked questions about employment law

Am I entitled to a contract of employment?

When someone begins a new job, whether full-time or part-time, they should receive a document from their employer that summarises the main terms of their employment.

There are a number of details that should be included in the principal statement. Some of these details include:

  • The employer’s name and address
  • Job title or description
  • Start date (and the date of a previous date if continuous
  • Place of work and whether they might have to relocate
  • Hours and days of work
  • Salary and payment frequency
  • Holiday entitlement (and if that includes public holidays)
  • Contract length (and what the end date is if it is a fixed-term contract)
  • Details of the probation period
  • Any other benefits
  • Mandatory training and whether or not this is paid for by the employer

Most employers will subsequently issue a more comprehensive contract of employment but this is not mandatory.

If an employee does not receive a written statement of employment particulars and the employee has cause to sue the employer, the employee can claim an award of a minimum payment of two weeks’ salary, to a maximum of four weeks’ salary, subject to the Tribunal’s discretion.  

What are my rights as an employee?

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) outlines an employee’s rights and responsibilities. These are:

  • Written terms (a 'written statement of employment particulars')
  • National Minimum Wage
  • Paid holiday
  • Payslips
  • Protection for 'whistleblowing'
  • Protection against unlawful discrimination
  • Protection against unfair treatment for working part time
  • Parental leave and pay
  • Shared Parental Leave and Pay
  • Maternity, paternity and adoption leave and pay
  • Parental bereavement leave and pay
  • Time off for dependants
  • Time off for public duties
  • Redundancy pay after 2 years' continuous service
  • Claiming unfair dismissal after 2 years' continuous service
  • Receiving the minimum notice period if dismissed or made redundant
  • Flexible working requests after 26 weeks' continuous service
  • Protection against dismissal or suffering any detriment if taking action over a health and safety issue

What are my rights if I do not have a written employment contact?

Even where you do not have a written contract with an employer (such as where you are classed as a ‘worker’), you will still have several clear rights under the law. These will include the right to be paid the agreed amount for any work completed, the right to the national minimum wage and the right to paid holiday.

If you are classed as an employee, your written statement of employment particulars should be provided to you on the first day of employment, if not before. The wider written statement can be provided within two months from the beginning of employment. If these particulars are not supplied you may be entitled to further compensation on top of any other claim raised.

Is a settlement agreement legally binding?

A settlement agreement can be legally binding, so long as certain key conditions are met.

The following must apply:

  • The settlement agreement needs to be in writing
  • It must relate to a specific issue
  • It can only be completed/executed after an employee receives advice from an independent adviser (a solicitor or certified trade union representative)
  • The employee’s adviser must have appropriate insurance
  • The employee’s adviser must be identified
  • The relevant statutory conditions regulating the agreement must be stated

How long do you have to bring an Employment Tribunal claim?

Typically, you will have three months less one day from the date of the incident to bring forward an employment tribunal claim. This is known as the limitation date.

Do I need a solicitor to make an Employment Tribunal claim?

You do not necessarily need a solicitor to make an Employment Tribunal claim. However, for the best possible chance of reaching a successful outcome and to ensure that your case is prepared effectively as possible, it is strongly recommended that you enlist the support of a specialist employment solicitor who can guide you through the process and provide tailored employment law advice.

I have been presented with a Settlement Agreement by my employer, what does that mean and do I have to sign it?

A Settlement Agreement is a binding legal document between an employee and their employer. They are usually presented to employees when termination of their employment is impending for one reason or another. The document will record the terms of departure including any requirements of the employee and employer. Both parties must be happy with the terms recorded or they should not sign.

This may then require some negotiation between the parties to ensure that they are happy to sign, which we will be happy to undertake if necessary. Even if no negotiations are required, the settlement agreement will still need to be overseen by a solicitor to ensure that the employee has received independent legal advice and to make certain that the employee is made fully aware of their rights and the effect of the agreement. 

In addition, the settlement agreement must be compliant with the Employment Rights Act 1996 so this will need to be checked. The employer should contribute towards the employee’s legal costs.

Can I make a request for flexible working?

A flexible working request includes reducing your hours, change of working hours, flexibility with times (flexitime), longer hours over fewer days (compressed hours), working from home or elsewhere (remote working) and job sharing. The request could be made to cover all working days, specific days or shifts, specific periods or over a certain time period.

Legally, flexible working requests should only be considered if you are an employee, you have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks and have not made a flexible working request within the last 12 months. Even if you do not meet these criteria the employer may consider your request but they are not required to.

The request should be made in writing. Any reasons for the change should be given, whether any problems are envisaged with making the change and if so how could those problems be overcome.

The employer is entitled to 3 months to make a decision in respect of the request. The employer does not have to approve the request if there is a valid business reason for not implementing the change. If you disagree with the employer’s decision you should discuss with the employer and/or consult the workplace policy on appealing the decision. 

If you remain dissatisfied you may wish to consider raising a formal grievance. It is best practice to have any changes recorded in writing. If the change concerns working hours, pay, location or holiday entitlement then the changes must be recorded in writing. 

Can I make a claim to the employment tribunal?

You might be able to make a claim to an employment tribunal if you have a problem at work that has not been resolved. In most cases it will have been sensible to have raised a grievance at work before making a claim to the employment tribunal to allow the employer an opportunity to resolve the issue. 

If you do not you could be penalised if you are successful in your claim against your employer.

In order to be eligible to make a claim you must be an employee and have worked for your employer for 2 years. There are however some exceptions such as being dismissed for an automatically unfair reason and being discriminated against. The 2 year requirement is not required in these circumstances.

If you want to make a claim to an employment tribunal, you must inform ACAS. You will be offered the option of early conciliation. The objective of the service is to assist you and your employer to resolve the issue before what can be a stressful and time consuming claim is made to the employment tribunal. 

No fee is payable for the early conciliation service or to the employment tribunal.

A claim to an employment tribunal must be made within 3 months less 1 day from the event. This is known as the 'limitation date'. If the claim is in respect of redundancy pay or equal pay, then the claim must be made within 6 months. The limitation date will however be paused upon making the early conciliation notification to ACAS. If early conciliation has not been successful then a certificate will be issued and the employee will have one month to make a claim to the employment tribunal.

Have I been unfairly dismissed?

Firstly you must have been an employee and worked for your employer for at least 2 years. Providing that there was a fair reason for the dismissal, that there was enough reason for the dismissal and that a fair procedure was followed then the dismissal may not have been unfair.

There are however some things that are automatically unfair if, they are the reason for the dismissal and for these you do not have to have worked for your employer for 2 years.

These include:

  • making a flexible working request
  • being pregnant or on maternity leave
  • wanting to take family leave, for example parental, paternity or adoption leave
  • being a trade union member or representative
  • taking part in legal, official industrial action for 12 weeks or less, for example going on strike
  • asking for a legal right, for example to be paid the National Minimum Wage
  • doing jury service
  • being involved in whistleblowing
  • being forced to retire (known as 'compulsory retirement')
  • taking action, or proposing to take action, over a health and safety issue

If the employer does not follow a full and fair procedure, you could have a case for unfair dismissal, even if the reason for dismissal was valid.The procedure the employer follows will be taken into account if you make a claim for unfair dismissal and the case reaches an employment tribunal.

If you think your dismissal was unfair and you want to challenge it, you can appeal it through the employer's appeal process. You should consult the workplace policy.If the appeal is not successful then you may wish to make a claim to an employment tribunal.

My employer is changing, what does that mean for me?

Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations protect your rights as an employee when you transfer to a new employer or if a service is transferred to a new provider.

Providing the new employer/service provider is within the UK and you are an employee then your rights will be protected, they should not change.They can sometimes apply to workers.TUPE regulations are applicable to both the private and public sector.

Under TUPE, the new employer takes over employees’ employment contracts, including:

  • all the previous terms and conditions of employment
  • any failures of the previous employer to observe employees’ rights (so employees could make a claim for discrimination against the new employer, even if it took place before the transfer)
  • holiday entitlement
  • period of continuous employment - an employee’s start date is the same as before the transfer, so continuous employment isn’t broken
  • any collective agreements previously made

It is a breach of contract if the new employer does not meet the terms of the employment contract.

If you do not wish to work for the new employer then you will need to resign.This is not an unfair dismissal or an entitlement to redundancy pay.Notice is not required to be given as long as you let your employer know before the transfer takes place.If however your working conditions are significantly worse because of the transfer then you could object to the transfer or then resign and claim unfair dismissal.

The new employer can change your terms and conditions if the reason is an ‘economic, technical or organisational reason’ involving changes in the workforce or workplace, such as a result of redundancies or a move from a managerial to a non-managerial position.You would need to agree to this change.This could also result in dismissals.They will however need to be fair.

Get in touch with our employment law solicitors for employees

To arrange a fixed fee price for an initial consultation with our employment solicitors in Kent, contact us in AshfordCranbrook or Hythe or give us a call on 01233 665544. If this meets your approval, we can quickly arrange an appointment for you to see one of our employment solicitors.

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For more information please call us on  01233 624545