Pursuing claims made against employers in employment tribunals throughout England & Wales
Funding options available in appropriate cases include contingency (success) fee schemes.
It’s not sufficient for an employer to have grounds to dismiss an employee.
It’s necessary to follow a fair procedure and to take a decision which is reasonable in the circumstances.
If you think you might have a claim you’ll prudently act quickly because time limits often apply and are strictly enforced.
Employment law at a glance
- Employers and employees enter into contracts of employment that govern their rights and obligations. There are statutory requirements governing contracts and they need to be drafted carefully.
- Employees are additionally entitled to a whole raft of statutory rights.
- Many rights, such as the right not to be unfairly dismissed, are subject to qualifying criteria such as period of service. Other rights (such as the right to paid leave for example) are enjoyed by some categories of workers other than employees.
- It is not sufficient to have grounds to dismiss an employee. It is necessary to follow a fair procedure and to take a decision which is reasonable in the circumstances.
- Conduct, capability, redundancy and retirement are all potentially fair reasons for the dismissal of an employee.
- Employees are entitled not to be discriminated against on unlawful grounds. These are known as “protected characteristics” in the Equality Act 2010 and are age, disability, race, sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, and religion or belief.
- Quite apart from statutory rights employees are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect and employers are required not to act in such a way as to destroy the mutual bond of trust and confidence. Employers acting unreasonably risk bullying and harassment claims and complaints of constructive dismissal.
- Employers and employees are expected to seek to resolve disputes informally and this may involve having a grievance procedure and using it where appropriate.
- Employers can protect their assets (for example goodwill and staff) by agreeing restrictive covenants with an employee but great care needs to be taken when drafting covenants because they are scrutinised closely by the Courts when enforced and need to be reasonable.
- Disputes between employers and employees often find their way to an employment tribunal. They are costly, take time (management time in the case of an employer) and can be stressful. The costs in tribunal claims are generally irrecoverable on both sides.
Settlement can be a good option
In most cases, from the moment a client instructs a solicitor in relation to a dispute, that solicitor should be looking for opportunities to settle the claim on the best terms practicable for the client.
There are many reasons why it will generally be in your client’s interests to settle, including the following:
- A settlement gives the parties certainty and closure, and avoids the anxiety of having to wait for a judgment from court and the uncertainty about that outcome. In addition, an agreed outcome is more likely to be acceptable to both parties rather than just to the winner in court.
- Reaching a settlement avoids the expense of continuing with the litigation. Even if a claimant wins in court and is awarded their costs, they will rarely get all of their costs back from the other side.
- A settlement avoids the need to continue using precious time in preparing for the litigation.
- By reaching a settlement, a claimant can avoid the public arena (that is, the court), and thereby avoid the risk of potentially unwanted publicity. It is common to include a confidentiality clause in the terms of any settlement agreement.
- There may be other reasons too which mean that it is in a claimant’s interests to settle, such as their need to maintain a commercial relationship with the other side.
- A wider range of remedies is available when settling a dispute than those available through litigation, whether at a tribunal or in court.
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