Employment law can be complicated and few people have a clear idea of all their rights at work.
Before resorting to the Law or an Employment Tribunal, it is always best to try and resolve the matter directly with your employer using their Complaints Procedure. The issue can be sorted out more quickly and if you decide to go to a Tribunal, your compensation may be reduced if you haven’t tried this approach first.
However, if a solution is not forthcoming, it is important that you take alternative action quickly as there are strict deadlines for making complaints.
Your claim has to be registered within the following time limits:
- Unfair Dismissal – 3 months
- Statutory Redundancy Payment – 6 months
- Breach of Contract – 3 months from termination of contract.
Generally, to make a claim you have to be employed for two years. There are exceptions where you are protected from the first day of employment. These include issues that involve:
- Trade union membership or dues
- Whistleblowing (anything illegal or dangerous at work)
- Health & Safety or your legal rights (eg paid leave)
You are protected against discrimination at any stage of your employment including your job interview, if based on your sex, sexuality, race, religion or beliefs, disability or age.
If an agreement is reached without going to a tribunal, a “settlement agreement” is produced wherein you give up any claim against your employer for an agreed settlement.
They are usually chaired by a Lawyer and possibly two other members, who consider:
- the claim by weighing up the evidence
- the Law
- the procedures the employer has for dealing with problems
- the behaviour of both employee and employer during the period
- steps they have taken to resolve the problem
Hearings are usually completed in a day with a decision announced immediately.
Compensation can be awarded, but this is unlikely to be large and often will only cover your actual losses.
A solicitor can:
- Explain your options and advise you if you have a case against your employer.
- Discuss with you if the case is worth pursuing and the likely costs to yourself.
- Agree a plan of action which may include them negotiating with your employer or helping you negotiate yourself.