Bishop & Sewell
Flower

As an employee, you should feel secure in your job. From discrimination to unfair dismissal, when you feel your employer is unfairly treating you, we can help.

We act for individuals at all levels, from junior personnel to senior management, and will always be on your side in any employment dispute. We will advise you in an easy-to-understand and cost-effective way, explaining what your options are.

We only ever employ trained advocates to advise and represent you in Tribunals. It makes a difference, and increases your chances of success.

As part of our service, we will provide you with a cost-benefit analysis, which sets out the options open to you, the likely cost and any particular risks that you should bear in mind.

Whatever the employment issue, we’ll help you see things in black & white.

Next Steps

For initial advice or to arrange a meeting with one of our team, please email employment@bishopandsewell.co.uk or contact 020 7631 4141 and ask to speak to our Employment team.

When the terms of your contract of employment are breached, work life can suddenly become stressful and challenging.

Your contract of employment and the company’s general employee handbook (if any) will form the basis of your contractual relationship with your employer. These rights will be in addition to the statutory rights that you have as an employee, as well as any verbal agreements you may have had with your employer.

Your employer breaches your contract of employment if they do not adhere to specific terms set out in it. Some examples of where your contract may have been breached include:

  • Not receiving a bonus where you are specifically entitled to one.
  • Not receiving payment in lieu of notice following a dismissal or resignation.
  • Your employer not following the disciplinary or grievance procedures as they are supposed to when you raised a complaint.

Your employer is generally not permitted to change the terms of employment without your agreement. If your employer does breach any of the terms of your employment, speak to one of our employment solicitors to see if you could be entitled to compensation.

There is a difference in having a complaint or grievance against your employer and having a valid legal claim against it. You should ask yourself: do you have a good claim in law? You should also note that different legal tests apply to different types of dismissal.

In fact, how do you know if it’s just an ‘unfair dismissal’ claim that you should bring? What if you have other valid claims that you have not thought of? If you don’t bring such claims in time, you might be prevented from bringing them at all – and you could lose out in compensation. You might also consider how would you set out your claim so that you had the best chance of winning the case.

We can help you answer all of these questions for a low fixed fee.

Can I Make A Claim?

Time limits for unfair dismissal claims run from the last day you are effectively employed. You should assume you have three months minus a day from that point to make a claim otherwise it is very likely that you will be debarred from making a claim. There are limited exceptions – if you are concerned, give us a call. You should however move fast as you need to factor in enough time for a lawyer to draft your pleadings if you are going to make a claim.

What Could It Be Worth?

This is actually a difficult question to answer, although you are welcome to try and get a very rough idea by asking about this in your first call to us.

In order to get much more accurate assessment, you should ask a lawyer to help you. We can judge what assumptions a Tribunal might make in your case and explain how these affect the compensation you might be awarded.

In addition, our lawyers are trained in all aspects of employment law and are able to spot claims that you might not have thought of, which could result in significant additional compensation being awarded.

What Would It Cost?

Where you have legal expenses insurance under a household-insurance policy, it should cost you nothing – but remember to activate your insurance immediately. You should feel free to nominate us as your solicitors under that policy.

Alternatively, you may have access to other free sources of legal advice (via a union, a Citizens’ Advice Bureau, and advice centre or in very limited circumstances, though a legal aid firm). We offer fixed fee options, a type of ‘no win no fee’ agreement or litigation services based upon our hourly rate of £175 + VAT per hour.

What Is Involved?

Making a claim involves a big commitment. It usually takes between 6-10 months to progress a claim to final hearing, but it can take longer than that.

You can find out what’s involved by clicking the button marked: ‘what’s involved’ on our home page. This sets out the litigation process in a diagram.

You should bear in mind however that you will be advised on your options in terms of settling any claim throughout this process and it may be that you don’t need to go through all of this.

Constructive dismissal is the term used where an employee resigns in response to their employer’s breach of a condition (in other words, an important term) of their employment contract. In this situation, he/she would be entitled to treat him or herself as having been “dismissed”.

What Do You Need To Show To Make A Claim?

  1. Your employer was in fundamental breach of the employment contract.
  2. You resigned as a result of that breach.
  3. You have not accepted the breach by the way you have subsequently acted (unreasonable delay in resigning, for example, may constitute such affirmation).

This must involve a significant breach of an implied term (such as the implied contractual term of trust and confidence) or an express term of the employment contract that goes to the root of the contract (such as a failure to pay wages or similar).

Note: it may not just be one incident that amounts to a breach but a series of incidents or a pattern of behaviour which, taken as a whole, amounts to such conduct. The Tribunal will consider any previous breaches of contract that may have otherwise been waived by you.

Due to the complexity of this area in law, we recommend that you take legal advice on the individual circumstances of your case.

High Risk

There is a risk you “resign too soon” which can result in you losing a claim.

There is a risk that you “resign too late” which can result in you losing a claim.

There is a risk that what you think amounts to a fundamental breach of contract is not what lawyers/Tribunals think amounts to a fundamental breach.

Claims which are presented out of time (that is, later than 3-months-minus-a-day from the date of termination of employment) are not accepted by Tribunals unless there are special circumstances.

The above issues involve a high degree of legal judgement, which is why we recommend getting expert legal advice in relation to your own situation as soon as possible.

What Compensation Could You Get?

This is complicated and lot depends on when you find alternative work.

We can help you to get a rough idea though over the telephone.

Still Employed/Thinking About Leaving

If so, there are a number of issues that you should think about before making a claim.

What do you hope to achieve by making a claim? Do you simply want to be compensated for what has happened?

Alternatively, do you want to signal that things have to change in the organisation? If so, do you need to make a claim or, instead, raise a grievance?

Do you feel must resign as a result? You don’t necessarily have to. You could remain in post (and paid) and protected by the law relating to victimisation. Is this going to be practical however? Will your health be affected by having to go back into a potentially negative environment?

If you are not going to return – are you in fact contemplating a case for constructive dismissal as well? If so, do you have good grounds to make such a claim? What additional issues arise, such as considerations about when and what basis you should resign?

Otherwise, have you considered the other issues listed below?

Left Employment After Discrimination

Would you have a good case in law if you did make a claim?

There is a difference in having a complaint or grievance against your employer – and having a valid legal claim against it. Discrimination often occurs because you have been treated less favourably than others in the workplace due to your:

  • age
  • race
  • sex or gender
  • disability
  • religious views
  • philosophical views
  • sexual orientation
  • equal pay
  • fixed term worker status
  • part time worker status
  • need to take time off to care for a dependent

This might manifest itself in a number of ways, including: insulting behaviour, denial of benefits, being picked on or harassed, being victimised for raising complaints about such matters, or generally being treated worse than other employees.

In making any such claim, you should be wary that the legal tests that are applied are a lot more complex than you might think. It is easy to lose a claim of discrimination where it has not been properly set out or thought out.

We will help you through difficult times and help you to understand the legal context of the situation you are facing.

By taking you through your options, we can help you work out the best strategy to meet your preferred goal.

We regularly advise on how to manage allegations of poor performance and misconduct.

About To Be Made Redundant?

We advise you on the process, so that you know if your rights are being breached. We use diagrams to make things easy to understand.

We can help you intelligently challenge the business rationale for the redundancy decision – and any decision to place you in a particular pool for selection.

We can also advise you on how to challenge unfavourable scoring so that it actually makes a difference.

Where it appears that you will be selected regardless, we can help with strategies for trying to maximise any payment made to you.

We can do all of this for a low fixed fee.

Been Made Redundant?

We offer fixed-fee help and can advise you whether you are ‘in time’ to make a claim.

We assess whether your claim is limited to one of unfair dismissal (arising out of redundancy) or whether you have further claims in respect of other rights that your employer might have breached. Using an experienced, trained lawyer to do this best ensures that you don’t ‘miss out’ on claims you should have brought.

We advise you on your chances of succeeding in your claim (before you invest further time and money).

We help you work out the basis of your claim in law and then draft your pleadings accordingly. This approach has the following advantages:

  • it helps the Tribunal understand why it should find in your favour, which improves your chances of success
  • it helps your employer – and its lawyers – understand that you should be taken seriously, which often improves your chances of settling the claim early
  • it reduces the need for you to have to ‘plead out’ your case in law at a Case Management Hearing later on.

We then advise you on whether your chances of winning the claim have changed, bearing in mind the content of the ET3 defence received. We also go on to advise you on tactical steps you can take in the preparation of your case to best ensure that you win it.

We then offer our trained tribunal lawyer-advocates to present your case for you.

If you have been offered a severance agreement in return for a promise not to pursue a potential claim against your company or organisation we can help.

You will have been asked to see a solicitor because this is a legal requirement for the compromise agreement to be enforceable.

We are expert employment lawyers, who offer a discrete service helping select employees to conclude these kind of agreements, by negotiation where necessary.

We have central London offices with easy tube access. Alternatively we can advise over the telephone or come and meet you. We will come back to you on your enquiry usually within 30 minutes and certainly within 3 hours.

How We Can Help

We offer a quality service designed to help you evaluate whether you are getting a good deal.

We set out all the options open to you. We provide diagrams where this becomes complicated.

We help you understand the risks involved in negotiating. We help you negotiate clauses where necessary.

We understand that some clients are more used to dealing with these types of agreement than others. We tailor our advice accordingly.

Options

Take a moment to think about your options.

You can take the deal being offered, as it’s put in the compromise agreement. Is this your only option? Can more be negotiated on your behalf? What are the consequences of trying to negotiate more? Should you be suing instead?

Are you being exited? Do you have the option of staying? Can a solution be worked out along those lines? What would be the consequences of trying to stay? If not, what about your reference? Can you influence what is said about you when you’ve gone? Are you being given money because you have been discriminated against? Is it the right amount? What is being done to make sure it won’t happen again?

We can discuss this when we meet you, but it may be useful to give this some thought now.

Is there a time limit for accepting the offer? You need advice quickly before it runs out. Make an appointment now, or call us to organise an immediate telephone conference or skype appointment.

Organise/Evaluate

Check that your lawyer will keep his/her fees within the amount that your employer has agreed to contribute. If you instruct us, we will keep our fees for meeting you and advising you on the content of the agreement to £350 – £500 plus VAT. This is paid by your employer if you accept the deal (or any modified deal, after negotiation). Other lawyers refuse to make this sort of promise.

Accept/Reject/Negotiate

We will advise you as to whether you are getting a good deal or not. We will also guide you on whether you might be able to get more; and explain the risks which arise in negotiation – so that you remain in control of the process.

You will need to take a decision as to what approach to take before the offer expires or is withdrawn. You also need to understand the consequences of (effectively) rejecting an offer and making a counter-offer.

We will help you with this.

Employees now enjoy extensive rights that allow them to balance work with family life.

For example, if you have a child and wish to return to work following maternity leave on a part-time basis or want to work from home, or wish to change your arrangements to combine work with part-time study, you may be affected.

Our expert employment lawyers can guide you through the maze of employment regulation and help you understand your rights and options.

Flexible working

Since 2014, all employees with 6 months’ service have the right to request flexible working. Flexible working encompasses any variant on working full-time from the employer’s premises such as:

  • Part-time work
  • Remote/home working
  • Job sharing
  • Shift working

Employers must consider flexible working requests reasonably and within three months of receiving the request (including dealing with any appeal). An ACAS statutory code of practice on dealing with flexible working requests must be complied with.

Employers wishing to turn down a flexible working request must be able to demonstrate one of eight ‘business grounds’ for refusal. Employees can complain to an Employment Tribunal for breaches of the flexible working regulations. Alternatively, or in addition, such employees may complain that a refusal to allow flexible working gives rise to a discrimination claim.

Family leave and pay

In the UK, employees can take statutory leave (often with a statutory right to pay) in a variety of situations such as:

  • Shared Parental leave (with statutory Shared Parental pay)
  • Maternity leave (with statutory maternity pay)
  • Adoption leave (with statutory adoption pay)
  • Paternity leave (with statutory paternity pay)
  • Unpaid parental leave (under the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999)

In each case, there are complex statutory rules regarding entitlement, notification and employment rights during family leave. Failure to correctly comply with the law can result in Employment Tribunal claims under the relevant legislation such as the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999 or other employment claims such as for discrimination or constructive dismissal.

We can give clear and comprehensive advice to employees on these issues to assist you to make wise decisions. By seeking our advice you will be better placed to engage effectively with your employer regarding your employment conditions.

People who report wrongdoing in their workplace are often referred to as ‘whistleblowers’. In many (but by no means all) cases, the law protects ‘whistleblowers’ from being victimised as a result of having spoken out.

To have ‘blown the whistle’, you will need to have made a complaint (or comment) to the right person or organisation, at the right level, to the effect that your employing organisation has:

  • committed a criminal offence;
  • failed to comply with a legal obligation;
  • encouraged, participated in or otherwise allowed (a) miscarriage(s) of justice;
  • threatened or otherwise endangered an individual’s (or individuals’) health and safety;
  • damaged the environment;
  • deliberately attempted to cover up any of the above.

There are some disclosures that won’t qualify. You won’t be protected for whistleblowing if:

  • you break the law when making a disclosure (for example if you signed the Official Secrets Act as part of your employment contract); or
  • the information is protected under legal professional privilege.

Discrimination and/or breach of your employment contract (where this has a wider public interest implication) can sometimes count for protection.

This is important to employees or (qualifying) workers who have raised grievances about breaches of their own rights or the rights of others.

How Much Compensation Would You Get?

This is difficult to answer, so to get an accurate assessment, you should ask a lawyer. We can judge what assumptions a Tribunal might make in your case and explain how these affect the compensation you might be awarded. The potential brackets for compensation range between £500-£30,000 or more, depending on whether you are able to claim loss of earnings.

What Are Your Options?

Well, if you are still employed, you may have the option of making things better for yourself whilst staying employed. We can tell you how to go about this.

Alternatively, if you are thinking of suing, then we recommend that you get advice on:

  • whether you are in time to bring a claim
  • whether you have a good claim
  • if so, what it’s worth.

Are You In Time?

Time limits for whistleblowing claims run from the day on which you suffered less favourable treatment occurred.

You should assume you have three months minus a day from that point to make a claim, otherwise it is very likely that you will be out of time limits for making a claim. There are limited exceptions. If you are going to make a claim, you should however, move fast, as you need to factor in enough time for a lawyer to draft your pleadings.

How We Can Help

We can advise you on whether you have a claim worth bringing and if so, what it’s worth. Alternatively, we can advise you on a strategy to protect your position at work and stop you being victimised.

We can offer a fixed fee service, which includes meeting you and reading all your documents, before advising you on options and strategy, and making proposals about representation for you to consider.

Still Employed

If you have been accused of competing or are in the process of preparing to compete, you should instruct a lawyer as soon as possible, as you could face disciplinary sanctions and/or dismissal. Alternatively, you may face a High Court injunction.

You may have already signed undertakings which may go well beyond the promises you made (if any) in your contract of employment.

We can advise you of the extent of your employer’s rights in this situation, what would be involved in a High Court claim and what your options are in terms of any undertakings. It may be that you have been acting entirely within your rights.

We can also help prepare a strategy for dealing with any disciplinary procedures you may now face.

Ex-employee

Is your employer threatening you with an injunction on the basis that you are competing with it in breach of the terms of your past contract of employment?

Are you being asked to sign undertakings which could damage your new business and/or which go well beyond the scope of the terms of your past contract?

We can assist you.

We can first assess and advise you on how real the threat is. We can then examine to what extent you are allegedly competing with your former employer before examining the scope of any contractual restrictions that you are under. It may be that your employer is making allegations in respect of rights it does not have.

Alternatively, where it appears that there is an issue, we can help advise on the scope of any undertakings that you might consider giving.

Being Sued

We have successfully defended actions against individuals on multiple occasions.

We have a growing reputation in the market to punch well above our weight. Indeed we have been placed on a magic-circle conflict panel as a result of our performance in a recent high-court case brought by a well-known international bank.

Employment Advice Legal Team

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