Employment Law for Employers

Our employment law team advises a range of employers from large organisations to sole traders alike on all aspects of employment law. We offer general and specialist advice in this increasingly complex area of law. We can offer a comprehensive preventive advice service - let us review your employment contracts and internal policies and procedures to avoid problems arising.

Should you find yourself defending an application to the Employment Tribunal, we can advise you, negotiate with your employee on your behalf, negotiate with ACAS, and represent you at Tribunal if necessary.

Our FAQs below should give you some clarity and understanding about issues you might be facing.  But the best course of action is to call one of our expert team on 01383 721141


The Employment Tribunal

What is an Employment Tribunal?
The Employment Tribunal is an independent judicial body which determine disputes between employers and employees over employment rights.

What kinds of dispute can an Employment Tribunal decide on?
A very wide range of disputes come within the jurisdiction of the Employment Tribunal. These include unfair dismissal, unlawful deduction from wages, discrimination in employment, breach of employment contract, and more. But some employment disputes may also be dealt with in the ordinary courts.

What compensation can an Employment Tribunal order for unfair dismissal?
The Tribunal could order a dismissed employee to be given back a job with the employer – but this is very rare. Usually financial compensation is given for unfair dismissal. There is a “basic award” which takes account of age, length of service and average pay up to a maximum (£400 per week in 2011). Then there is a “compensatory award” which is compensation for financial loss. This depends on the individual case and circumstances, but is subject to a maximum (£68,400 in 2011). It would include compensation for such things as loss of pay, future loss of pay, and loss of benefits including pension rights. The basic and compensatory awards can be reduced if the employee is partly to blame for the dismissal, has behaved badly in the employment, or has received some other payment such as redundancy pay.


Unfair Dismissal

What is unfair dismissal?
A dismissal is unfair, and the employee has the right to make a claim of unfair dismissal to the Employment Tribunal, when the employer dismisses an employee without having a fair reason to do so, or if the employer uses an unfair procedure to dismiss the employee. “Fair reasons” are restricted to those defined in the legislation.

Who is eligible to make a claim for unfair dismissal
An employee who has at least one year’s continuous employment. Very few categories of employee are excluded, but self-employed people are not eligible. However, there are some cases where the employee does not have to have a year’s employment, such as where the dismissal is related to Trade Union activities, a health & safety issue, pregnancy or maternity rights. Any employee who believes he or she has been unfairly dismissed, should take legal advice about eligibility for a claim.

What is the time limit for an unfair dismissal claim?
A claim must be made within three months of dismissal. It is very rare for this time limit to be extended. Failure to apply within the time limit will mean the right to claim is permanently lost. An employee who has been dismissed should therefore seek legal advice as soon as possible, to give their solicitor time to investigate the case and make the application.

How is a claim for unfair dismissal decided?
There are two stages – firstly the Employment Tribunal decides whether the dismissal was for a “fair reason”. The fair reasons are defined in the legislation, and include that the employee is not capable of doing the job; the employee’s misconduct e.g. theft; redundancy; or some other valid reason e.g. failure to fit in with a necessary reorganization of the business. The second stage is to consider whether the dismissal was dealt with in a fair way. This is a requirement even if the reason for dismissal was fair. This requirement covers things like allowing an employee to have fair notice of the employer’s dissatisfaction with his/her performance, or allowing the employee to be accompanied at disciplinary hearings by a colleague or trade union representative.

What is constructive dismissal?
This happened where an employee leaves their job because they have been forced into it by the employer’s behaviour amounting to a fundamental breach of contract. For example, if an employer harasses, victimises or humiliates an employee, or allows other employees to do so, and the employee feels that they cannot remain in their job. The employee’s resignation may be treated by an Employment Tribunal as if they had been dismissed by the employer. They may then be eligible to claim unfair dismissal. Constructive dismissal is hard to prove and professional advice will be necessary. Contact one of our employment law solicitors.


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