During the course of your working life there are times when you may need guidance and support. Things do not always go smoothly. We advise individuals who work in a variety of different sectors on all aspects of their employment rights, to explore the best options for achieving the outcome they want.

We can advise on the following:

Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures

If you are experiencing difficulties at work, our specialist employment law team can provide you with the expert assistance you require.

Disciplinary issues usually involve an allegation of misconduct against an employee, whereas a grievance will involve a complaint or concern being raised by an employee to their employer. Either way, it is important that these issues are dealt with fairly by the employer, investigated thoroughly and that your key rights, such as being entitled to be accompanied at a formal disciplinary or grievance meeting, are protected.

We can advise you throughout the process, ensuring that the matter is being dealt with correctly, and can assist with preparing and drafting relevant documentation and correspondence with the employer. Whatever the outcome of the disciplinary or grievance process we can also provide support and advice as to what further steps can be taken (if necessary), which may include the need to commence Employment Tribunal proceedings.

If you are currently facing a disciplinary process or considering raising a grievance, please contact us for a free initial consultation. We would also strongly recommend that you take a look at the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures (http://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/f/m/Acas-Code-of-Practice-1-on-disciplinary-and-grievance-procedures.pdf), which places obligations on both employees and employers to comply with its provisions or face possible sanctions at any future Employment Tribunal proceedings.

Discrimination in the Workplace

Sadly, discrimination is still prevalent in some workplaces – if you believe that you have been or are being discriminated against our specialist employment law team are here to listen and can provide you with the support and advice you need.

The Equality Act 2010 provides protection against discrimination relating to certain listed characteristics which people may possess, termed ‘protected characteristics’. The following defined as protected characteristics under the Equality Act:

  •    age;
  •    disability;
  •    gender reassignment;
  •    marriage and civil partnership;
  •    pregnancy and maternity;
  •    race;
  •    religion or belief;
  •    sex;
  •    sexual orientation.

Discriminatory treatment can range from a one-off act or comment to a systematic course of bullying and unfavourable treatment. Under employment legislation, the different forms of discrimination are classified as follows:

Direct discrimination – this is when someone is treated less favourably because of a protected characteristic. For example, paying someone less because of their sex or overlooking someone for a promotion because of their race.

Indirect discrimination – this is when a practice, provision or criteria is applied to everyone but adversely affects those with a particular protected characteristic. For example, a requirement that an applicant for a job has 20 years experience in the field could represent indirect discrimination on the grounds of age if it could not be justified.

Victimisation – this is when a person is subjected to a detriment for complaining about discrimination or for helping someone who has been the victim of discrimination. For example, a person who raises a grievance about discriminatory treatment is then continually refused a pay-rise.

Harassment – this is when a person is subjected to unwanted conduct because of a protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. For example, a manager continually makes inappropriate comments regarding a colleague’s appearance.

If you think you are being discriminated in the workplace, please contact our experienced team of employment lawyers for a confidential, free initial consultation.

Redundancy

A redundancy situation can arise in a variety of different circumstances, but is often due a downturn in business or through the closure or relocation of the company. Whatever the reason, our experienced team of employment lawyers understand how stressful it can be to be involved in a redundancy situation and are here to help.

Whilst redundancy is potentially a fair reason for dismissal, to dismiss fairly for redundancy an employer will need to show that there is a genuine redundancy situation (i.e. it is not simply being used as an excuse to dismiss an employee when, for example, the real reason is that the employee is not liked or is being discriminated against) and that they have followed a fair procedure, including consulting with the affected employees and looking for alternative employment.

Our specialist team of employment lawyers can support you through the redundancy process, ensuring that the process you are being subjected to is fair and reasonable. Whilst our primary aim will be to help save your role (assuming that is what you want), if your employment is terminated by reason of redundancy we will also be able to advise you as to the next steps, including the possibility of pursuing an Employment Tribunal or by advising on the terms of a Settlement Agreement if one is offered by the employer.

Settlement Agreements

A settlement agreement (formally known as a compromise agreement) is a legally binding document that records an employee’s agreement not to bring certain legal claims against their employer (or former employer), usually in return for a sum of money.

If you have been offered a settlement agreement then our specialist team of employment solicitors can provide you with straightforward, practical advice as to the terms of the agreement. If you are not happy with the terms of the settlement that has been offered, we also have the experience and expertise to help negotiate you a better deal.

We understand that leaving your employment can often be a stressful time and we pride ourselves on making the process as painless as possible – we can meet you at our offices in Doncaster or Sheffield to go through the settlement agreement or we can go through the agreement with you on the phone or via Skype. If the matter is urgent, in most cases we will be able to offer you an appointment on the same or next working day.

In terms of costs, as part of the settlement agreement the employer will often include a provision for legal costs and we will never charge more than this amount without agreement from you.

If you have any questions regarding settlement agreements, or if you would like to book an appointment to discuss a settlement agreement that you have been offered, please do not hesitate to give our employment law team a call.

Unfair Dismissal and Constructive Dismissal

If you believe that your employment has been terminated in a manner that was unfair, our specialist team of employment solicitors can advise you as to the prospects of pursuing an Employment Tribunal claim and can provide robust and expert representation throughout the process.

A dismissal will be deemed to be unfair if the employer fails to show that that the reason for dismissal was one of a list of potentially fair reasons. Potentially fair reasons for dismissal include:

  •    capability
  •    conduct
  •    redundancy
  •    breach of statute
  •    some other substantial reason

Where an employer is able to identify a potentially fair reason for dismissal, a dismissal may still be held to be unfair if the employer is unable to show that they followed a fair procedure.

If you have not been dismissed but instead have felt forced to resign from your employment due to the conduct of your employer, you may also have a claim – this type of claim is termed constructive dismissal. To succeed in a claim for constructive dismissal you will need to show that you resign in response to a fundamental breach of contract by the employer.

There are strict deadlines for submitting a claim for unfair dismissal (including constructive dismissal), so if you believe you may have a claim do not delay in seeking appropriate advice. Our experienced employment law team have advised many employees in successfully pursuing unfair dismissal claims again their employers, obtaining the compensation that they deserve.

Employment Tribunal Claims

If you believe that you have been treated unfairly at work you can pursue a claim against your employer (or former employer) at the Employment Tribunal. We understand that this can be a daunting step and our specialist employment solicitors are here to assist every step of the way.

Whether it is a claim for discrimination, unfair dismissal, whistle-blowing or unpaid wages, our experienced team has helped countless people achieve the results they deserve. We will ensure that your claim is presented to the Tribunal as formidably as possible and that you receive robust, expert representation throughout the process including at the final hearing. We are also experienced negotiators and can help you achieve a successful settlement of your claim, should you wish.

We do, of course, appreciate that costs will always be an important factor in deciding whether to pursue a claim in the Employment Tribunal. We offer an initial free consultation to discuss your potential claim and, if you decide to proceed, we offer a variety of fee structures to meet your needs including ‘pay as you go’, fixed fees and (in certain cases) ‘no-win no-fee’.

It is important to remember that there are strict deadlines for commencing an Employment Tribunal claim (usually 3 months minus a day from the act complained of, which for unfair dismissal claims will usually be the date your employment ended) – the first step will be to initiate the compulsory Acas Early Conciliation process (http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=4028), which we can we help guide you through or take care of it on your behalf. Call us for a free initial consultation today – we can discuss the matter over the phone, by Skype, or in person at our offices in Sheffield or Doncaster.

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