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Our employment lawyers act for employees and employers in a variety of disputes.
Our team can advise you on all aspects of employment law, help you if you’re facing a dispute at work and help you enforce your employment rights.
As a business owner, employment law issues are hugely disruptive to the running of your business; draining time, energy and money.
As an employee, you will be worried about factors such as your reputation, your future career and also the emotional and financial impact it can have and we totally understand that.
Our experienced team provide a knowledgeable, expert and caring service to support you through the whole process and can advise on a vast array of issues including:
- Long term sickness absence
- Disciplinary or Grievance Proceedings
- Dismissal & Discrimination
- Disputes in the workplace
- Tribunal Proceedings
A Contract of Employment can come to an end for a number of reasons and a Settlement of Agreement ensures that it is terminated in a legally binding way.
As an employer, you should take legal advice from an employment solicitor to make sure the Agreement is watertight.
As an employee, you should also have an expert read through the Settlement Agreement as it’s effectively you surrendering any right to future action in return for a negotiated exit package. Your employer should pay for, or contribute to, the cost of this.
The primary effect of a Settlement Agreement is that you, as an employee, agree not to pursue any claim you may have against your Employers in either a Court or an Employment Tribunal.
In order for a Settlement Agreement to be legally binding, you, as an employee, must be independently advised by a solicitor or Trade Union representative.
The Solicitor giving the advice must also certify that the appropriate advice has been given.
The Settlement Agreement will usually also provide for confidentiality; both in terms of the employer’s trade secrets and business affairs and also of the terms of the Agreement.
Running a business is tough and, along with the many highs, you may face some tough times when redundancy is the only viable way forward.
Redundancy can come about for a variety of reasons including reduced output, cessation of trading or simply because you need to reduce the number of people you employ to help your business survive the economic pressures it faces.
If you’re considering redundancy then it’s essential to seek guidance from an employment solicitor who can ensure all procedures are dealt with correctly and fairly.
If you are proposing 20 or more redundancies at one site then you must carry out formal consultations over a 90 day period with a recognised Trade Union or Employee Representative. You will have to follow a set timetable for these consultations.
This is good practice even when these formal requirements do not apply. Consulting with Employees or their Representatives will be beneficial to all involved in the process.
In all restructuring situations, irrespective of the numbers involved, you must carry out a Selection Procedure using objectively fair criteria to ensure the correct employees are selected for redundancy.
This means consulting with each employee, considering whether you can offer them suitable, alternative employment and allow them reasonable time off to find new work.
You will also need to compensate your employees for their dismissal with a tax-free sum that proportionately reflects the length of service they have given to your business, provided they have been working with you for more than two years.
If you get any of this wrong then you could end up defending Employment Tribunal Proceedings so it is safer to engage our team of employment law solicitors from the start of the process.
Our team will discuss all options with you and guide you through the selection process as well as offering expert guidance on the entitlement your employees legally have.
A redundancy may count as unfair dismissal if unreasonable criteria have been used to select the Employee made redundant.
For the redundancy to be fair, you must have created a justifiable set of criteria which are used to select the employee or employees to be made redundant which can include such things as length of time in service to your business, their skills and qualifications or any disciplinary proceedings that have been actioned.
You must then apply these criteria rigorously and without bias to all the Employees being considered for redundancy.
If you can be shown to have selected an Employee for redundancy using irrelevant or unjustifiable criteria – for example for reasons relating to age, sex, race or disability, then you would be regarded by an Employment Tribunal as not having carried out the selection process in a fair manner, and there is every likelihood that the redundancy would be classed as unfair dismissal, with all the legal & financial consequences that entails. You may also be faced with a discrimination claim.
Our team of employment solicitors in Liverpool and Southport will guide you through the process of restructuring or re-organising your business to help avoid claims for unfair dismissal, constructive dismissal, discrimination and breach of contract claims.
Discrimination at work can take many different forms and it is now an extremely complex and constantly changing area of Employment Law.
Discrimination at work can occur even during the recruitment process as well as throughout a period of employment.
Discrimination usually falls into one of the following categories:
- Sexual Orientation
Victimisation can also arise where an Employee complains about alleged discrimination and is then treated less favourably for having done so.
Discrimination can be:
Direct – when a person is treated less favourably on the grounds of a personal characteristic such as their age, a disability they have, their race or religion, or their gender or sexual orientation.
Indirect – where an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice would put people of one sex/race/religion etc at a particular disadvantage compared with persons of a different sex/race/religion etc.
As an employee, you have a maximum period of 3 months from the date of the most recent act of discrimination to make a claim in an Employment Tribunal.
This is regardless of any internal Grievance or Disciplinary Procedures that are ongoing.
To bring a claim for Unfair Dismissal you must first contact ACAS (see below) and then you have to issue Tribunal Proceedings within 3 months of the effective date of termination of employment.
The key requirements are that you were an employee as opposed for example to an independent, self-employed contractor.
You must also have at least 2 year’s continuous service as an employee with the employer in question (this applies only if you started your job on or after April 6th 2012 – otherwise the qualifying period remains 1 year) and be able to prove that you were unfairly dismissed – if you resign, the complex issue of Constructive Dismissal may well need to be considered
If you match these criteria then the onus then shifts to your employer to show that the dismissal was for a fair reason.
As an employer, a dismissal may be fair if it can be shown that it was due to
- Capability or qualifications such as dismissal on the grounds of incompetence, lack of ability/aptitude etc.
- Misconduct justifying dismissal
- Statutory illegality: an Employee could not continue to work without breaking the law because, for example, he is employed as a Driver and has been banned from driving
- Some other substantive reason
How can we help?
Whether you’re looking to take or defend a claim at the Employment Tribunal our specialist team of employment solicitors will be on hand to support you from start to finish.
There are many stages to a claim and we can help with all or some of them, depending on the support you need and we aim to work on a fixed fee basis wherever possible.
Frequently Asked Questions About Employment Law
Am I entitled to equal pay?
If you are performing equal work of an equal value with another employee, then you are entitled to equal pay with that employee. While issues regarding equal pay usually focus on the gender pay gap and women being paid less than men for the same work, equal pay actually applies to all employees regardless of their gender or other factors.
You are entitled to know exactly how your pay is calculated, and this includes any additional bonuses on top of your base salary. This way you and your colleagues can identify whether there are disparities in pay, and it allows for the selection of a comparator if a formal grievance needs to be issued.
If a formal grievance is issued and there is still no resolution to the issue, then you are entitled to claim discrimination through the Equality Act of 2010 provided that this is within three months of the most recent act of discrimination.
What is gross misconduct?
Gross misconduct can be a broad title but most often includes behaviour that severely breaks the contract between an employee and an employer, such as:
- Breach of confidentiality,
- Gross negligence,
- Serious insubordination,
- Or a breach of other company policies such as drug or alcohol.
These are not the only examples of gross misconduct that can be used, and you will find that many employers will specify behaviour that they define as gross misconduct in their contract or employee handbook. To combat unfair or wrongful dismissal, a court will not automatically side with the company for a behaviour that they define as gross misconduct in an employee contract.
Finding an employee guilty of gross misconduct entitles the employer to immediately dismiss that employee without notice.
While each case of gross misconduct will differ, employees will have to follow the ACAS code of practice, with a higher standard of investigation required depending on the severity of the allegations.
You should be formally informed of any issues being investigated and given sufficient notice to prepare for an investigatory meeting where you can state your case and, following the results of the investigation, be given sufficient notice to prepare for a disciplinary meeting.
If your employer had genuine reason to believe in the accusations of misconduct towards you which were validated through an appropriate and thorough investigation then they will have reasonable grounds for dismissing you. This is regardless of whether you were actually responsible for any misconduct or not.
What is the standard practice for full time employee holiday allowance?
Full time employees are entitled to a minimum of 28 days (5.6 weeks) paid holiday per year including bank holidays. As this is a minimum, specific employee contracts can include more holidays, but this is at the discretion of the employer. Furthermore, the employer must agree to when holidays are taken. Employers are also entitled to cancel holiday that has already been approved provided they give notice equal to the length of holiday that was booked.
If you are sick on a date where you have booked holidays from work then you can ask your employer to record your absence as sick leave rather than holiday. By doing this, you can keep your holiday entitlement to use at a later date.
If you do not use all of your holiday allowance, then you are not automatically entitled to receive the equivalent of the remaining amount in pay or carry forward the untaken leave to the following holiday year. Payment in lieu of untaken holiday allowance is only routinely entitled for employees who terminate their contract.
What is the standard practice for notice periods?
Regardless of what your employment contract states, you should receive at least one week’s notice from your employer if you have been employed for between one month and two years, and you should receive one week’s notice for every year worked between two and twelve years.
The length of notice that you must give your employer will almost always be included in your employment contract and will frequently be a lot longer than the minimum length of one week for employees who have worked for longer than one month.
Usually, you will be expected to work your notice while receiving full pay and benefits as you are still employed. Employers can instead pay you in lieu of notice (PILON), which means your contract will come to an immediate end and you will receive your base salary for the notice period instead. This may not include any additional benefits you would typically be entitled to. If your contract has no pay in lieu of notice clause and your employer dismisses you during your notice period anyway then this is a breach of contract and you should be entitled to any benefits that you would have earned over the course of your notice period.
Another form of notice ordered by employees is garden leave. If you are placed on garden leave you will be paid for your notice period, but you will not have to attend your place of work. Because your employment contract is still active, it is expected that you will be available if your employer wishes to contact you and you will not begin working elsewhere or begin working self-employed.
Was my redundancy fair?
To be made redundant, the work that you are employed to fulfil must have ceased or diminished to the extent where your employer does not need as many employees to carry it out.
If there are only a select number of employees being made redundant then employers must identify an individual in a management role who is familiar with the qualifications of the employees at risk of redundancy to oversee the selection process. The process should be unbiased and based on performance, attendance, and disciplinary record.
When an employer has identified those at risk of redundancy, they must consult them as early as possible. This consultation will usually take the form of at least one meeting over a period of at least thirty days.
If you are selected for redundancy, then there are many potential grounds for unfair dismissal that may have occurred. For example, if your employer did not conduct a fair consultation or if your employer did not advise you on any suitable roles within the same organisation – even if these roles are junior and would require a decrease in salary.
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