Employment Law FAQs
We have put together a list of our frequently asked questions about employment law below. If you do not find the information you require, then please feel free to get in touch with a member of the team at Percy Hughes & Roberts, who will be happy to help.
What is an Employment Tribunal?
If you are experiencing problems at work that cannot be resolved, you may want to make a claim to an Employment Tribunal.
An Employment Tribunal takes place to resolve employment disputes. It is typically less formal than a court case. Usually a single employment law judge will decide the case after hearing arguments from both sides.
Judgments given in the Employment Tribunal are legally binding.
How long do I have to bring a claim to the Employment Tribunal?
In most cases, your claim must be filed with the appropriate Employment Tribunal within 3 months. This is an incredibly strict time limit and claims can be barred if they are submitted even a few minutes late. The exceptions to the 3 month rule are very limited and so if you want to bring a claim against your employer, you should seek legal advice as early as possible.
How long do claims take to go through the Employment Tribunal?
It can take between three and six months to process your claim before the Tribunal hearing takes place. The length of the hearing itself will depend on the amount of evidence and the number of witnesses. If you bring a claim in the employment tribunal you will almost certainly have to give oral evidence in court.
How long does an employee have to be employed before they can bring a claim for unfair dismissal?
In most cases, an employee must have 2 years’ continuous service before they can pursue a claim for unfair dismissal. There are some exceptions to the 2 year rule though so it is always worth checking. Of course in discrimination claims, there is no requirement for a continuous period of employment as all employees are protected under the Equality Act 2010.
Can an employer make permanent staff redundant instead of agency staff?
Yes, although as part of considering the alternatives to redundancy, one of the initial steps should be to reduce the use of agency staff.
Can an employer dismiss an employee due to a personality clash?
If an employer was to dismiss a member of staff due to a personality clash, they would need to prove that it was causing substantial disruption to the business and that they had taken significant steps to try to solve the problem before deciding to dismiss. If you are an employer looking to do this we recommend that you take legal advice.
Can an employee be made redundant if she is pregnant or on maternity leave?
If the reasons are valid, an employee who is pregnant or on maternity leave can still be dismissed by reason of redundancy. However, if the dismissal is connected to the pregnancy or maternity leave in any way, the dismissal is deemed automatically unfair.
When undertaking a redundancy process, an employer must firstly consider whether there is a genuine case of redundancy, and secondly must carry out a fair process. When considering making employees who are on maternity leave redundant, an employer must to not take into account time off whilst on maternity leave as they could open themselves up to a claim for unfair dismissal and sex discrimination.
If redundancy arises while an employee is on maternity leave and it is not practicable for the employer to continue to employ the employee under their existing contract, the employer should offer a suitable alternative vacancy if one is available.
Is it illegal for an employment contract not to include maternity/paternity leave?
Your employment contract does not have to set out your rights to maternity/paternity leave. Policies on maternity/paternity and adoption could also be found in a staff handbook. Just because your rights are not set out in an employment handbook does not mean the rights do not exist.
How much can I recover in an unfair dismissal claim?
The compensation for a claim for unfair dismissal is broken into 2 parts – the basic award and the compensatory award. The basic award is the equivalent of your statutory redundancy and is worked out through a mathematical calculation based on your age, weekly earnings and length of service. It is currently capped at £14,670.
The compensatory award, which is currently capped at £80,541 is largely based on the earnings you lose as a result of your employment being terminated. The value of your claim depends on your individual circumstances. You always have a duty to mitigate your loss though and should seek new employment as quickly as possible.
There are additional awards given in cases of discrimination or harassment.
My employer is conducting work in an illegal manner, how can I stop this?
It is essential that you consult your employer’s whistleblowing policy as a starting point. If you are unsure or need some help contact a solicitor or regulatory body.
When would I be offered a settlement agreement?
A settlement agreement can be offered by an employer or an employee. However, there is no obligation on either side to accept. A settlement may be reached if the terms are beneficial to both sides. Employers often offer deals as an alternative to going down one of the permitted reasons for dismissal.
Contact Percy Hughes & Roberts
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We are based in Birkenhead and cover cases across all of the North West, including Wirral, Merseyside & Cheshire. We pride ourselves on offering expert advice that's easy to understand, and we will be with you through every step of the legal process.