Our employment team has years of experience in dealing with human resources issues that arise between employers and their employees.
We offer practical advice on all forms of employment problems including:
These are agreements between employers and employees. They are legally binding contracts which can be used to end an employment relationship between the parties on agreed terms. These agreements, which may be proposed by either of the parties, may also be used to resolve employment disputes such as disputes over holiday pay. Once a valid settlement agreement has been signed, the employee will be unable to make an employment tribunal claim about any type of claim which is listed on the agreement.
Employers are entitled to dismiss their employees based on their capability to do their jobs, their conducts, whether their position is economically redundant, on grounds of a statute, or some other substantial reason, provided that they do so fairly. The Employment Rights Act 1996 regulates this fairness by saying that employees are entitled to a fair reason before being dismissed. However, employees who have worked for a minimum of 2 years are entitled to bring a claim for unfair dismissal against their employers.
Employees who have not worked for up to 2 years are entitled to bring a claim against their employers for automatic unfair dismissal provided that they were exercising their rights relating to the following:
- pregnancy: including all reasons relating to maternity
- family reasons: including parental leave, paternity leave (birth and adoption), adoption leave or time off for dependants
- representation: including acting as an employee representative
- trade union membership grounds and union recognition
- part-time and fixed-term employees
- pay and working hours: including the Working Time Regulations, annual leave and the National Minimum Wage.
This is a process whereby employees report suspected misconduct, illegal acts or failure to act within their organisation. As a whistle-blower, an employee is protected in certain circumstances under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. However, the suspected wrongdoing must be in the interest of the public, for example:
- a criminal offence e.g. fraud
- someone’s health and safety is in danger
- risk or actual damage to the environment
- a miscarriage of justice
- the company is breaking the law e.g. doesn’t have the right insurance
- you believe someone is covering up wrongdoing
Employees will have to show the following in order to claim protection under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998:
- that he or she made a disclosure
- that they followed the correct disclosure procedure
- that they were dismissed or suffered a detriment as a result of making the disclosure.
Employees who ‘blow the whistle’ on wrongdoing in the workplace can claim unfair dismissal if they are dismissed or victimised for doing so. An employee’s dismissal (or selection for redundancy) is automatically considered ‘unfair’ if it is wholly or mainly for making a protected disclosure.
Equality Act 2010 ensures that employers provides equal job opportunities and fairness for employees and job applicants. They are expected to have policies in place in order to prevent discrimination.
Under the Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against people at work because of nine areas termed in the legislation as protected characteristics:
Harassment, sometimes used interchangeably as bullying, is a behaviour that makes someone feel intimidated or offended. It is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.
Harassment is an unwanted behaviour and may be related to age, sex, race, disability, religion, sexual orientation, nationality or any personal characteristic of the individual. It may also be persistent or an isolated incident.
Examples of bullying/harassing behaviour include:
- spreading malicious rumours, or insulting someone by word or behaviour
- copying memos that are critical about someone to others who do not need to know
- ridiculing or demeaning someone – picking on them or setting them up to fail
- exclusion or victimisation
- unfair treatment
- overbearing supervision or other misuse of power or position
- unwelcome sexual advances – touching, standing too close, the display of offensive materials, asking for sexual favours, making decisions on the basis of sexual advances being accepted or rejected
- making threats or comments about job security without foundation
- deliberately undermining a competent worker by overloading and constant criticism
- preventing individuals progressing by intentionally blocking promotion or training opportunities.
Victimisation can occur at your workplace if you’re treated badly because you complain about discrimination or you help someone who’s been discriminated against. Victimisation is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.
However, If you give false evidence or make an allegation in bad faith, then you are not protected from victimisation under the Act.
Constructive dismissal (sometimes called constructive unfair dismissal) occur when an employee is compelled to resign as a result of the actions of their employer.
The following situations that could lead an employee to feel that they have been constructively dismissed:
- Being suddenly demoted for no reason.
- Being bullied or discriminated against by either the employer or colleagues.
- Changing hours or place of work without agreement and without the contractual right to do so.
- Raising a grievance which the employer refuses to look into.
- Being given an excessive workload.
- Consistently being paid incorrectly.