Staying abreast of workplace legislation

Most of us work full-time five days a week, and with that employment there should always be a contract spelling out our rights and obligations as employee and employer. Laws on a healthy, safe working environment, a minimum wage, working hours, holiday entitlement and maternity rights can be fairly straightforward but there are more complex areas such as redundancy, dismissal and discrimination. Disputes often arise and, if not solved quickly, can cause all sorts of heartache. Calling on experienced employment law specialists like Guardian Solicitors to explain the law can save you time, money, your career and even your business and answer key questions on a worker’s rights and an employer’s compliance with the law.

For employees:

Unfair dismissal

Many workers are unsure if they have a claim for unfair dismissal. At Guardian Solicitors we will check if the facts of your case qualify to bring a claim, ie. have you been in continuous employment with the same employer - or new employer if subject to a TUPE transfer (see below) - for one year? If so, you have crossed the first hurdle.

"If an employee has been wrongfully dismissed … he or she may be entitled to claim damages for breach of contract"

We will then assess the events leading up to dismissal and advise if you may have been unfairly dismissed and are thus eligible to submit a complaint to the Employment Tribunal.

Wrongful dismissal

Unlike unfair dismissal claims, this is not a statutory but a contractual claim. You can claim wrongful dismissal when an employer terminates an employee’s contract contrary to the terms in the employment contract, for example, without the requisite notice period.

If an employee has been wrongfully dismissed (and this again all hinges on the facts leading up to dismissal), he or she may be entitled to claim damages for breach of contract.

Constructive dismissal

This is a slightly different scenario. An employee resigns (with or without notice) because of a fundamental or repudiatory breach of the employment contract by the employer, leaving it virtually impossible for the employee to continue to work for that employer.

"Employees should think very carefully before going down this route and try to resolve the issues internally"

The employee must have been continuously in post for one year. All employees should be aware that it is notoriously difficult to succeed with such a claim, mainly because there are so many pitfalls.

Employees are advised to think very carefully before going down this route and try, wherever possible, to resolve the issues internally.

Compromise agreement

Staff who take redundancy, voluntary or otherwise, are often offered a negotiated financial sum, provided they sign a contract agreeing to make no further claim against the company because of any company breach in its statutory obligations.

These contracts have become common during the recent economic downturn but unfortunately do not lend themselves to the “one-size-fits-all” approach repeatedly being used by many employers. Not every employee or their job role is the same so we ensure that any compromise agreement is tailored accordingly and that you are fully aware of its implications.

Restrictive covenants

These clauses are usually in employment contracts that aim to restrict employees from doing certain things after they stop working for an employer. This can range from engaging or “poaching” staff and/or clients through to stopping someone from working in the same field for a certain time so as to protect legitimate business interests. Such restrictions can be challenged on grounds of fairness and scope, although not all challenges will be successful.

Redundancy

"If you are concerned about why you have been selected, you have the right to challenge your employer"

It’s very upsetting to be told that you are being made redundant and creates much worry and uncertainty. However, although redundancy is a legitimate way for an employer to terminate an employment contract, it must be a genuine redundancy to be fair.

If you are concerned about why you have been selected, you have the right to challenge your employer and possibly submit a later claim for unfair dismissal on the grounds of redundancy. At Guardian Solicitors, we can talk you through the process and advise you of what steps (if any) to take.

Discrimination

Discrimination means an employer has treated one staff member less favourably than others, directly or indirectly, because of a specific characteristic of that individual, eg a female employee being paid less than a male colleague in the same position, or a minority ethnic employee being refused training opportunities because of their race.

What areas attract discrimination?

Discrimination can be based on a number of characteristics, including:

  • Gender
  • Marriage or civil partnership
  • Gender reassignment
  • Pregnancy and maternity/paternity leave
  • Sexual orientation
  • Disability
  • Race
  • Colour
  • Ethnic background
  • Nationality
  • Religion or belief
  • Age

Your employer is also not allowed to dismiss you or treat you less favourably than other workers because you work part-time or are on a fixed-term contract.

When is a person harassed or victimised?

Other common issues in the workplace are harassment and victimisation, summarised below:

Harassment - offensive or intimidating behaviour, such as sexist language or racial abuse, which aims to humiliate, undermine or injure you or have that effect, such as allowing displays or distribution of sexually explicit material or giving you a potentially offensive nickname.

You have the right not to be harassed or made fun of at work or in a work-related setting (e.g. office party).

"We understand how such behaviour can affect an individual and we’ll support you on your right to fair treatment"

Victimisation - treating you less favourably than others because you tried to make or have made a complaint about discrimination, such as an employer preventing you from taking training courses, taking unfair disciplinary action against you, or excluding you from company social events.

At Guardian Solicitors, we understand how such behaviour can affect an individual and we will support and advise you on your right to fair treatment.

Have you been the victim of discrimination, harrassment or victimisation in the workplace? Are you facing redundancy or even dismissal? For help and advice or to arrange an initial meeting, please call us at Guardian Solicitors on 0203 301 6600 or email info@guardiansolicitors.com

Employment law

Staying abreast of workplace legislation

Most of us work full-time five days a week, and with that employment there should always be a contract spelling out our rights and obligations as employee and employer. Laws on a healthy, safe working environment, a minimum wage, working hours, holiday entitlement and maternity rights can be fairly straightforward but there are more complex areas such as redundancy, dismissal and discrimination. Disputes often arise and, if not solved quickly, can cause all sorts of heartache. Calling on experienced employment law specialists like Guardian Solicitors to explain the law can save you time, money, your career and even your business and answer key questions on a worker’s rights and an employer’s compliance with the law.

Maternity and paternity rights

Are you about to have your first baby and are unsure about your maternity rights? If so, we can help you better understand your rights and financial entitlement.

What rights do pregnant employees have?

  1. Paid time-off for antenatal care
  2. Maternity leave
  3. Maternity pay benefits
  4. Protection against unfair treatment or dismissal

Who is eligible for statutory maternity pay (SMP)?

To qualify for SMP:

You must have been employed by the same employer continuously for at least 26 weeks into the 15th week before the week your baby is due (the qualifying week)

You must have been earning on average at least the equivalent of the lower earnings limit that applies on the Saturday at the end of your qualifying week.

The lower earnings limit is what you have to earn before being treated as paying National Insurance contributions. This is £97 a week if the end of your qualifying week is in the 2010-11 tax year.

"After ordinary maternity leave (the first 26 weeks of your statutory maternity leave), you have a right to the same job … as if you hadn’t been away"

How much statutory maternity pay do I get?

If you qualify for SMP, it is paid:

for the first six weeks at 90% of your average gross weekly earnings with no upper limit

for the remaining 33 weeks at the lower of either the standard rate of £139.58, or 90% of your average gross weekly earnings.

When do I have to return to work?

After ordinary maternity leave (the first 26 weeks of your statutory maternity leave), you have a right to the same job and the same terms and conditions as if you hadn’t been away. This also applies when you come back after additional maternity leave (the last 26 weeks of your statutory maternity leave).

If you want to change the date of your return, you must give your employer at least eight weeks’ notice, otherwise your employer can insist that you do not return until that period of eight weeks has elapsed.

If you decide not to return at all, you must give your employer notice in the usual way.

For help and advice on maternity – and paternity - rights or to arrange an initial meeting, please call us at Guardian Solicitors on 0203 301 6600 or email info@guardiansolicitors.com

Employment law

Staying abreast of workplace legislation

Most of us work full-time five days a week, and with that employment there should always be a contract spelling out our rights and obligations as employee and employer. Laws on a healthy, safe working environment, a minimum wage, working hours, holiday entitlement and maternity rights can be fairly straightforward but there are more complex areas such as redundancy, dismissal and discrimination. Disputes often arise and, if not solved quickly, can cause all sorts of heartache. Calling on experienced employment law specialists like Guardian Solicitors to explain the law can save you time, money, your career and even your business and answer key questions on a worker’s rights and an employer’s compliance with the law.

FOR EMPLOYERS:

As austerity measures continue to bite, employers seek more savings to turn a profit. Guardian Solicitors can help you introduce legitimate measures to reduce costs and yet increase your profits . . .

Drafting employment contracts

For employers, it’s essential to have proper employment contracts in place to minimise the number of issues that an employee can raise. At Guardian Solicitors, we will ensure you receive the best advice in this area and that all contract activity is supported by effective and legally compliant policies, in particular, disciplinary and grievance procedures.

"We can also help you implement policies and procedures to create a more harmonised working environment"

Workforce reorganisation

Knowing when and how to make much needed changes to your workforce to improve productivity is never an simple call. But make it easier on yourselves by calling us at Guardian Solicitors. We can advise you on matters ranging from changing employee terms and conditions and redundancy and its requirements through to the issue of retirements. We can also help you implement policies and procedures to create a more harmonised working environment and workforce.

TUPE (Protection of Employment)

This is legislation protecting the right of employees who choose to remain in a company they were employed by after it transfers to a new owner. The new employer effectively stands in the shoes of the old employer and the employees maintain their continuous service for the purpose of all statutory rights.

At Guardian Solicitors, we can help you understand the methods of transfer, what is considered a relevant transfer, which workers are protected, the effects of dismissal due to the transfer and the general effects of a transfer.

Disciplinary and grievance procedures

We understand the importance of maintaining effective and legally correct procedures when it comes to disciplinaries and grievances. We can help you by drafting and reviewing policies and procedures and can also advise you, the employer, on the best course of action.

"This area of employment law is a minefield"

Discrimination issues

This area of employment law is a minefield, fraught with issues of sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, age, religion and beliefs. We can advise you on how best to treat your employees fairly to avoid any possible claims on the grounds of discrimination.

Are you worried about how to react to staff grievances? Are you sure of your facts before making staff redundant or dismissing them? For help and advice on employment laws or to arrange an initial meeting, please call us at Guardian Solicitors on 0203 301 6600 or email info@guardiansolicitors.com