Employment Law Advice For Individuals

Employment law, Newbury, Berkshire.

Legal Advice For Individuals

Employment has a significant impact on all our lives. At its best, our job gives us self-worth, financial security and emotional wellbeing.

Sadly, work can also cause huge stress and lasting harm. Fenton Elliott Solicitors have the experience to provide support to employees who want to maximise work benefits, and to those experiencing an employment crisis. Below you will find information and resources on some of the ways we can help - whether you are in work, or your employment has ended. If we don’t mention your situation, feel free to contact us. We are always happy to have a quick chat about your situation and point you in the right direction.

Request a call

Costs

We charge for our expertise on a time basis. We believe this is the fairest way to do so, as every case is different, and we intend to offer the right service for all clients. We also appreciate that legal costs can be considerable, often at a time of stress and economic insecurity.

We are transparent about our costs in our letter of engagement and aim to give you the best estimate we can. You can set a limit on the work that is done, and we will always keep an eye on the costs relative to the possible benefit. We invoice monthly, so that you can manage your outgoings.

Can I claim my costs back?

Where litigation is involved, most of our work takes place in the Employment Tribunal. The general rule is that the Employment Tribunal does not make costs orders. This means that if you lose, you will not usually have to pay your employer’s legal costs, and if you win, they will not have to pay yours. In almost all cases, you should expect to pay your own legal costs- we will let you know if we think this might be different for you.

We know that many solicitors advertise ‘free legal advice’. When you call us for the first time, we will not charge you. In this initial call, we will be able to give you general advice and advise you of next steps. We won’t be able to advise you fully because we will not have seen all the relevant information, and our advice is only insured once you are a client. Where you need more than general signposting, we will take you on as a client and send you costs information before we do anything else.

It is vital that we understand your case fully before committing you to the legal costs associated with representation in the Employment Tribunal. We will not advise you to use our services if we think it is likely you will lose more than you gain. This takes time. Before advising you, we need to speak to you in detail and carefully read all the relevant documents you provide. For a fixed fee of £500 (plus VAT), we can carry out the necessary work and provide you with a report confirming your options, your chance of success, and a guide to the compensation you might expect.

While You Are in Work

What should I do if…

Whenever you work for an employer, there is a legal contract between you- even if it is not written down.  It is best if this contract is written, because then employer and employee are clear about the terms they are bound by.

You may wish to talk to us about the terms of your contract before you sign it, or before you begin your new job.  This can be especially useful if there are complex conditions relating to bonuses or post-termination restrictions.

 By law, you must be given a written statement of some employment terms on or before your first day of work.  If this hasn’t happened, it’s a good idea to ask for it informally first.

More information is available below or

For helpful advice, pointing you in the right direction, contact Fenton Elliott Today

To make contact call us on +44 (0)1635 785 555 or email us at hello@fentonelliott.co.uk and we will call you. We respond quickly to all enquiries.

If you haven’t been given written particulars, you can raise the issue as a formal grievance- have a look at your company policy to guide you through this procedure.  See our notes on grievance procedures here
 

Resources

You can find out what the written terms must include here https://www.acas.org.uk/what-must-be-written-in-an-employment-contract/what-the-written-terms-must-include

Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures

Your employer should have policies for these, and you should always refer to them if you are raising a grievance or facing disciplinary problems.  We know these processes are difficult, and often employees feel that their employer is the stronger party.  We can talk through the process with you and advise you how to proceed.  We sometimes accompany clients to internal hearings, but for most clients, this is not cost effective.

More information is available below or

For helpful advice, pointing you in the right direction, contact Fenton Elliott Today

To make contact call us on +44 (0)1635 785 555 or email us at hello@fentonelliott.co.uk and we will call you. We respond quickly to all enquiries.

Grievance: what should I do?

  1. Spend some time thinking about what has caused the problem and how you want it to be resolved. Writing it down might help.
  2. Try to resolve matters informally first – speak to your line manager. If this is uncomfortable, speak to HR or another manager.
  3. You may be able to get advice from your Trade Union, or an adviser within your workplace. You can also ask someone you trust in your workplace to accompany you to informal meetings, if your employer agrees.
  4. If you come to an agreement, it is useful to have an agreed record, often by email, so that you can refer back to it.
  5. If you can’t solve things informally, you can raise the grievance formally, using your company procedure.
    1. Put your grievance in writing, with evidence.
    2. Your employer should investigate in a timely manner, and report back to you.
    3. If there is a hearing, your employer should allow you to be accompanied.
  6. If you are unhappy with the outcome, you should have the right of appeal. This is a good time to contact us for advice.
  7. If being at work becomes so bad, that you feel forced to resign, contact us as soon as you can, so that we can consider whether you have been constructively dismissed.

Disciplinary (conduct or performance): what should I do?

  1. If your employer starts a disciplinary procedure, you should be told in writing and given details.  They should also tell you the possible outcomes.  If they have not done this, you should ask them to, by letter or email.  Keep a copy.
  2. Prepare your case and evidence beforehand in writing- disciplinary meetings can be stressful and it is easy to lose your train of thought.
  3. Make sure you understand the procedure- it should be available in a policy or handbook. The procedure should be fair- giving you time to prepare, the right to state your case, the right to be accompanied and the right to appeal the outcome.
  4. Take someone with you to the disciplinary meeting as a moral support and to take notes on your behalf.
  5. It is likely that someone will take written notes of the meeting for the employer. These should be sent to you- if there is anything that seems inaccurate, write and let your employer know.
  6. When you receive written notice of the outcome, you should also be given the right to appeal. The appeal will have a short deadline, so make sure you don’t miss it.
  7. Keep all your paperwork, including your own notes.
  8. If you are unhappy with the outcome, this is a good time to contact us for advice.

Further Resources:

ACAS guide

https://www.acas.org.uk/disciplinary-and-grievance-procedures

Your employer has a legal duty of care, and they should protect you while you are at work.  If you are experiencing ongoing issues at work, you should raise them, informally at first, with someone who can help.  You would usually start with your line manager.

Where things become so difficult that formal action is needed, you can raise a grievance.  In some situations, the law gives you additional protection against discrimination based on ‘protected characteristics’.  See our separate section on Discrimination here. You also have protection against poor treatment as a result of whistleblowing or trade union involvement (see below)

More information is available below or

For helpful advice, pointing you in the right direction, contact Fenton Elliott Today

To make contact call us on +44 (0)1635 785 555 or email us at hello@fentonelliott.co.uk and we will call you. We respond quickly to all enquiries.

What should I do?
 

  1. Make notes for yourself about what is happening.
  2. Raise it with your line manager. If this seems to resolve matters, confirm the outcome with your manager in an email.
  3. If things are still difficult, raise a grievance. If you feel you are being treated badly because of a protected characteristic, say so in your written grievance. Use your company policies to guide you in each step.
  4. If the matter is not resolved in this way, call us to discuss this complex area of the law.
  5. If being at work becomes so bad, that you feel forced to resign, contact us as soon as you can, so that we can consider whether you have been constructively dismissed. 

If you are treated less well by your employer, or another employee, because of your protected characteristic, or because you supported anyone who has a protected characteristic, then you may have a legal case for discrimination, harassment or victimisation.  Protected characteristics are:

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

For helpful advice, pointing you in the right direction, contact Fenton Elliott Today

To make contact call us on +44 (0)1635 785 555 or email us at hello@fentonelliott.co.uk and we will call you. We respond quickly to all enquiries.

It is unlawful to treat someone less well than others because they have a ‘protected characteristic’ (see here).   

It can also unlawful to treat someone unfairly because they are associated with someone with a protected characteristic, or someone wrongly believes they have a protected characteristic.

If you can resolve matters through your workplace procedures, such as grievance procedures, it is often best to do so.  However, there are times when you need more help.

If you have been treated unlawfully, you may be able to claim compensation.

If being at work becomes so bad, that you are thinking of resigning, contact us as soon as you can, so that we can consider whether you have been constructively dismissed.

More information is available below or

For helpful advice, pointing you in the right direction, contact Fenton Elliott Today

To make contact call us on +44 (0)1635 785 555 or email us at hello@fentonelliott.co.uk and we will call you. We respond quickly to all enquiries.

The law protects you from different types of unfair treatment

  1. Discrimination (direct and indirect), including discrimination by association
  2. Harassment (this feels like bullying, and relates to a protected characteristic)
  3. Victimisation (unfair treatment because you supported someone’s complaints to do with a protected characteristic)

There are also rules on equal pay which you employer must follow.

Contact us if you :

  • Have received unfair treatment from your employer
  • If your employer has a rule or practice which has an unfair impact on you and others with a protected characteristic
  • If you have received unfair treatment from a colleague in the course of your working relationship (including, for example, work parties or or employment linked social media), and your employer has not dealt with it reasonably when you complain

Resources

Further information on discrimination can be found here:

https://www.acas.org.uk/discrimination-and-the-law

If you are worried about working practices in your place of employment, you should report it to your employer or to a relevant external body.  You should follow the procedures in your employer’s Whistleblowing Policy, if there is one. 

If something is going badly wrong* in your workplace, and you report it to your employer, the law protects you.  You must not be treated badly (suffer a detriment), because you have made a protected disclosure (‘blown the whistle’).  The definition of protected disclosures is below.

More information is available below or

For helpful advice, pointing you in the right direction, contact Fenton Elliott Today

To make contact call us on +44 (0)1635 785 555 or email us at hello@fentonelliott.co.uk and we will call you. We respond quickly to all enquiries.

*Where it is likely that the following has happened, is happening, or will happen:

  • A criminal offence
  • The breach of a legal obligation
  • A miscarriage of justice
  • A danger to the health and safety of any individual
  • Damage to the environment
  • Oppressive, discriminatory, grossly negligent or grossly mismanaged acts or omissions by a public body
  • Deliberate attempt to conceal any of the above.

What should I do if I am being punished for whistleblowing?

  1. Keep copies of your protected disclosures. If they were spoken, then make a note of them afterwards.  Make a note of what has been happening to you as a result.
  2. Raise a grievance, as described above.
  3. Call us for advice.
  4. If things are so bad that you feel like resigning, call us before you do so if possible.

You are entitled by law to time off in certain situations, though you are not necessarily entitled to be paid while you are off.  Your employer may have a policy which gives you more rights than you are entitled to by law.

This includes the right to time off for holiday, maternity/paternity/adoption, parental leave and bereavement. An up-to date list can be found here- https://www.gov.uk/browse/employing-people/time-off

You are also entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks per year (pro rata).  Your employer may direct when some of this time has to be taken (eg Bank Holidays, if they are working days).

More information is available below or

For helpful advice, pointing you in the right direction, contact Fenton Elliott Today

To make contact call us on +44 (0)1635 785 555 or email us at hello@fentonelliott.co.uk and we will call you. We respond quickly to all enquiries.

What should I do if I need time off?

  1. Check what you are entitled to using the link above.
  2. Check your company policies.
  3. Raise the issue informally with your Line Manager or HR department.
  4. If this is unsuccessful, raise a grievance.
  5. In some situations, a failure to provide statutory leave, may also be discrimination (eg regarding maternity leave) – call us for advice.

Resources

https://www.acas.org.uk/holiday-sickness-leave

If you have been working for your employer for at least 26 weeks, you have a right to make a flexible working request.  Your employer must consider your request properly on its own merits.  They cannot turn it down because of a policy decision which applies to everyone.

Your request might be about when, where or how you work.  Flexible working is not just for parents/carers: anyone can make a request when they have worked for long enough.

They do not have to grant the request if there is a valid business reason to turn it down.

If your request is due to illness, you should consider whether it is in fact a request to make reasonable adjustments due to disability.  This should be dealt with differently by an employer.

More information is available below or

For helpful advice, pointing you in the right direction, contact Fenton Elliott Today

To make contact call us on +44 (0)1635 785 555 or email us at hello@fentonelliott.co.uk and we will call you. We respond quickly to all enquiries.

What should I do if I make a request?

  1. Think about what you want and why.
  2. Be prepared to be flexible if your employer offers other suggestions.
  3. If you are turned down, consider whether the reason given makes sense as a business reason.
  4. If it is reasonable, you will need to continue as you are, or look for alternative employment. You can make another request when 12 months has passed.
  5. If it does not seem to be reasonable, then use any appeal you have been given, or raise a grievance.
  6. If your employer continues to act unreasonably, you have limited rights to claim up to 8 weeks pay in the Employment Tribunal. You would have to prove they did not have a valid business reason to turn your request down.  This can be very difficult in practice.  You must make a claim within 3 months less one day of the final decision.
  7. If you suspect that your employer’s decision is discriminatory, you should raise a grievance and contact us to discuss it.
  8. If you are treated badly because you made a flexible working request, you should also raise a grievance and contact us to discuss it.

Resources

https://www.acas.org.uk/making-a-flexible-working-request

https://workingfamilies.org.uk/articles/flexible-working-a-guide-for-employees/ 

If being at work becomes so bad, that you feel forced to resign, contact us as soon as you can, so that we can consider whether you have been constructively dismissed.  In most circumstances, it is best to raise a grievance before deciding to resign.

More information is available below or

For helpful advice, pointing you in the right direction, contact Fenton Elliott Today

To make contact call us on +44 (0)1635 785 555 or email us at hello@fentonelliott.co.uk and we will call you. We respond quickly to all enquiries.

Welcoming a new family member, especially for the first time, can be both exciting and bewildering.  We’d like to think we can at least help to make the legal questions more straightforward.  Rather than burden you with excess words here, we suggest that, for straightforward information about your entitlements and rights, including adoption rights, you look here:

https://www.acas.org.uk/maternity-paternity-and-adoption-leave-and-pay

If you feel you have been treated unfairly due to pregnancy or maternity, this may be unlawful discrimination- have a look at our discrimination section here

More information is available below or

For helpful advice, pointing you in the right direction, contact Fenton Elliott Today

To make contact call us on +44 (0)1635 785 555 or email us at hello@fentonelliott.co.uk and we will call you. We respond quickly to all enquiries.

More information (drop down)

Specialist resources

There are many organisations which offer support and advice if you feel your employer is discriminating against you

https://pregnantthenscrewed.com/

https://workingfamilies.org.uk/advice-information/

https://maternityaction.org.uk/

While you are pregnant and an employee:

  • You have a number of specific rights detailed below
  • You are protected from dismissal and redundancy which occur because of your pregnancy – see the section on Discrimination here

More information is available below or

For helpful advice, pointing you in the right direction, contact Fenton Elliott Today

To make contact call us on +44 (0)1635 785 555 or email us at hello@fentonelliott.co.uk and we will call you. We respond quickly to all enquiries.

More information (drop down)

While you are pregnant and an employee:

  • You have the right to reasonable time off with full pay for ante-natal appointments- and your partner has the right to come to 2 appointments with you (usually unpaid)
  • If there is a pregnancy-related health and safety risk for you or your baby, your employer must remove the risk
  • You must tell your employer that you are pregnant no later than the 15th week before your baby is due
  • You should meet your manager to talk about contact during your maternity leave and ‘KIT’ (Keeping in touch) days

Maternity leave and pay for employees

  • You can take up to 52 weeks maternity leave (regardless of when you started your job)
  • This can start up to 11 weeks before your baby is due and must start on the day your baby is born
  • You will not necessarily receive pay for all of your maternity leave
  • You might be able to share this with your partner as Shared Parental Leave
  • You must take 2 weeks’ leave after your baby is born
  • If you have been employed for 26 weeks by your ‘Qualifying week’ (15 weeks before your baby’s due date), and you earn at least £123 per week, you will be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay
  • If you are not entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay, you may be able to get Maternity Allowance
  • Your employer may give you extra (contractual) maternity benefits
  • Your holiday entitlement builds up during maternity leave
  • You should be told if jobs/promotions are advertised, and if reorganisation/redundancy is planned
  • You can work for up to 10 KIT days without ending your maternity leave and pay

Returning to work

  • You have the right to return to either the same job (if you’ve taken 26 weeks or less), or the same/similar job (if you’ve taken more than 26 weeks) , after maternity leave.
  • If you are breastfeeding, your employer must provide a suitable place for you to rest

Specialist resources

https://www.acas.org.uk/your-maternity-leave-pay-and-other-rights/holiday-and-maternity-leave

If you have a disability, your employer has a responsibility

  • to protect you from unlawful discrimination.
  • to make reasonable adjustments for you

In this case, disability is a legal term – even if you do not consider yourself to be disabled in a general sense, the law may do so.

According to the law, you are automatically protected if you have, or have had, cancer, HIV, MS or are certified as having a visual impairment.  If you have a progressive condition, the law considers you to have a disability when it begins to affect your normal day-to-day activities.

In all other cases, you are considered to have a disability if you have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day to day activities.

In some cases, you have the protection of the law, if you suffer discrimination because of your association with someone who has a disability.

If you feel you have been treated unfairly due to a disability, have a look at our discrimination section here

More information is available below or

For helpful advice, pointing you in the right direction, contact Fenton Elliott Today

To make contact call us on +44 (0)1635 785 555 or email us at hello@fentonelliott.co.uk and we will call you. We respond quickly to all enquiries.

Specialist resources

There are many organisations which offer support and advice if you feel your employer is discriminating against you

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/legal-rights/discrimination-at-work/overview/

https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/

https://www.disabilityjustice.org.uk

Over the past 30 years we have advised literally thousands of employees on their settlement agreements.  We know the pitfalls, we can explain in clear English what the terms mean and we can advise you whether to accept or not. 

We give you complete peace of mind, because we’re on your side.

When Your Job Has Ended 

Termination of employment

Sometimes people choose to leave their jobs, but need some advice about post-termination restrictions, or whether to accept some compensation offered to them by their employer.  We are used to helping people with these matters and can often do so on a fixed-fee basis, once we have a rough outline of the situation.  Please give us a call or drop us an email to discuss your matter, and we will give you honest, straightforward advice about your next steps.

For helpful advice, pointing you in the right direction, contact Fenton Elliott Today

To make contact call us on +44 (0)1635 785 555 or email us at hello@fentonelliott.co.uk and we will call you. We respond quickly to all enquiries.

Losing your job can be devastating.  Sometimes it is also unlawful, and you may be entitled to compensation.  We can help you decide if you may have a case for unfair dismissal, and if it is in your financial interests to pursue this matter in the Employment Tribunal.

We aim to be honest with clients- sometimes awful things happen, and there is nothing you can do about it.  Sometimes, you could do something about it, but it will cost too much to do so (financially or emotionally).  And sometimes, it is worth making a claim against your employer.

We don’t pretend it is easy to know which of these situations is yours- that’s why we don’t offer free advice at the beginning (see costs information here).  Don’t worry- we won’t charge you to call us for a short initial conversation- in fact, we have tried to make it easy for you to do this, by using the steps below.  Once we’ve got to grips with the main facts, we’ll advise you whether it would be a good idea for you to proceed as a client so we can give you proper advice, or whether you would be better to concentrate on moving forwards with your career plans.

More information is available below or

For helpful advice, pointing you in the right direction, contact Fenton Elliott Today

To make contact call us on +44 (0)1635 785 555 or email us at hello@fentonelliott.co.uk and we will call you. We respond quickly to all enquiries.

More information (drop down)

What should I do if I lose my job?

  1. Try to write a timeline of what has happened to you- nothing fancy: just a list of dates and events. Include the date you started employment and the date your employment ended.  You can use this as a script to tell us your story.
  2. Make sure that you keep all relevant documents, correspondence and email relating to your termination – we will tell you if you need to send them to us.
  3. Make notes of any meetings or conversations you have, so that you can refer to them accurately afterwards.
  4. Call us for initial advice as soon as possible- there are very strict time limits in the Employment Tribunal (usually you need to apply within 3 months less one day of your dismissal). We will need to know:
    1. That you have lost your job.
    2. When you started and when your contract was terminated.
    3. How much you earn.
    4. What your employer says about why you lost your job (eg they made me redundant, they sacked me for gross misconduct).
    5. Why you think they dismissed you and why you think it was unfair.
    6. What you think should happen to put it right.
  5. Once we’ve got this information from you, we will be able to suggest your best next steps.

If being at work becomes so bad, that you feel forced to resign, contact us as soon as you can, so that we can consider whether you have been constructively dismissed.  In most circumstances, it is best to raise a grievance before deciding to resign.

More information is available below or

For helpful advice, pointing you in the right direction, contact Fenton Elliott Today

To make contact call us on +44 (0)1635 785 555 or email us at hello@fentonelliott.co.uk and we will call you. We respond quickly to all enquiries.

Simon knows his subject of U.K. Employment Law very well and has a pleasant and clear manner. His input regarding a very difficult period of Economic downturn and staff retrenchment was a ma…

Peter R. Riddoch
C.E.O.
Contact Catherine Danaher

Contact Us Today

If you are looking for employment law advice for individual we can help. We will respond quickly to all enquiries.

Contact Us