Employment Law Advice for Employees

For many of us, our job and workplace are hugely important parts of our lives. But for others, it can also be a source of immense personal worry, stress and concern. If you’re facing difficulties in the workplace, speak to our specialist employment law solicitors.

It’s likely that you’ll be in employment for most of your adult life; however, being an employee isn’t always plain sailing. Careers evolve, businesses change and people move on – it’s part of the employment life-cycle, but we’re not only here when things go wrong.

Whether it’s reviewing your contract, renegotiating your terms or planning an exit strategy, our specialist workplace lawyers are experienced at dealing with sensitive employment situations.

We provide prompt and professional employee legal advice on a range of employment-related issues, including redundancy, disciplinary issues and contract advice. We can also support you if you’ve been a victim of discrimination at work, or if you’ve suffered wrongful, unfair or constructive dismissal.

Coronavirus: employment FAQs

Barcan+Kirby’s employment law team take a practical approach to employment issues and can help you find practical solutions to the difficulties you face during this time of uncertainty. Read our FAQs here.

Get in touch with our employment lawyers in Bristol

We work with employees all over the UK from our six offices across Bristol and the surrounding area in Bedminster, Bishopston, Clifton, Kingswood, Queen Square and Thornbury.

To speak to our specialist employment law solicitors in Bristol, contact us on 0117 325 2929 or complete our online enquiry form.

Our employment law advice services for employees

We take a practical approach to employment problems and can help you find cost-effective, workable solutions to the difficulties you face. We can advise on:

  • Employment contracts, service agreements, consultancy agreements, and terms and conditions of employment
  • Grievance and disciplinary issues
  • Settlement agreements and severance agreements
  • Redundancy advice on procedure and redundancy claims
  • Unfair, wrongful and constructive dismissal
  • Discrimination at work including disability discrimination, religious discrimination, sex discrimination, race discrimination and sexual discrimination
  • Restrictive covenants and confidentiality clauses
  • Transfer of Undertakings (TUPE)

How we can help you to resolve an employment dispute

Settlement agreements

Many employment disputes can be resolved quickly, cost-effectively and with minimal hassle for both parties using a settlement agreement. It provides certainty and allows you to take back control of the process.

A settlement agreement is a legal document in which you will agree not to pursue an employment tribunal claim against your employer or former employer, usually in exchange for a one-off payment.

Your employer may offer a settlement agreement to resolve a potential dispute or you can request a settlement if you believe you have grounds for a claim.

For a settlement to be legal, you must have independent legal advice before signing. Your employer will normally cover the cost of this advice.

Find out more about how we can help you with settlement agreements.

ACAS early conciliation

Early conciliation is a process offered by Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service), a government-funded organisation. It is intended to encourage employers and employees to work together to agree amicable solutions to employment disputes.

Each side will have the opportunity to put their case to an Acas conciliation officer. They will act impartially to resolve the problem, working with both sides to try to reach a settlement.

Early conciliation will typically end with the offer of a settlement from your employer or former employer. If a settlement is not offered, or you are unhappy with the terms of the settlement, you still have the option of taking your claim to an employment tribunal.

Find out more about ACAS early conciliation.

Employment tribunal claims

If you are unable to reach a voluntary settlement with your employer or former employer, you may need to take the matter to an employment tribunal.

This will involve your claim being heard by a tribunal panel at a hearing. The hearing will usually be chaired by a legally qualified tribunal judge with the other panel members made up of non-legal specialists, such as doctors, accountants or surveyors, whose expertise is relevant to the claim in question.

Both parties will be able to present their cases and supporting evidence to the panel who will then decide how the matter should be settled. If you are unhappy with the decision of an employment tribunal hearing, you can potentially appeal the matter to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).

Our employee legal advice fees

We aim to keep our costs competitive while reflecting the level of expertise needed to effectively deal with your employment law matter.

Depending on the complexity of the matter and your specific requirements, our costs can range from £150 + VAT up to £35,000 + VAT plus disbursements.

Employment law disbursements (including Counsel’s fees for employment tribunals) will typically range from £0 to £15,000.

It is worth bearing in mind that, in some cases, your employer may cover some or all of your legal costs, e.g. your employer will normally pay for you to receive independent legal advice on a settlement agreement.

Our lawyers can discuss costs with you from the outset and we can offer pricing and payment options, including fixed fees and payment by way of instalments.

Find out more about our employment law pricing.

Our employment law advice expertise

The employment law team benefits from the expertise of a number of highly talented people, including Partners Samantha Castle and James Bell, and Solicitors, Nick Howell and Iysha Mackenzie.

Samantha is a member of the Employment Lawyers Association (ELA) and was named Bristol Law Society’s Lawyer of the Year in 2017. Both Samantha and James have acted across all areas of employment law for many years, including dealing with employment disputes both in and out of employment tribunal proceedings.

As well as our expertise in employment law, we also have a very strong Personal Injury department who can offer extensive experience in Workplace Accidents.

Barcan+Kirby has been recognised by the Law Society with their Lexcel accreditation reflecting the strength of our client services and we are independently regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Our employment case studies

Out-of-court settlement for constructive dismissal claim

When an employer repeatedly breached the terms of an employee’s contract, she came to us for advice on ending her employment and seeking compensation.

We advised the client of her various options, taking all of her immediate and long-term concerns about any impact on her career into account. We then drafted a letter of resignation for the client, setting out her intention to pursue a claim for constructive dismissal.

Our team guided the client through ACAS early conciliation, including gathering all the necessary supporting evidence for her case. We carried out settlement negotiations with the client’s former employer and were ultimately able to secure a favourable settlement for our client without the need for employment tribunal proceedings.

To find out more, take a look at our employment law case studies.

Employment law FAQs

In most cases, you will only have three months less one day from the date of the incident occurring to bring a claim to a tribunal. It is therefore essential to take legal advice at the earliest opportunity to ensure you do not miss out on your chance to bring a claim.

If you use early conciliation and this does not lead to an agreement, you will have at least one month after the conciliation process ends to make a claim to a tribunal.

Even if you do not have a written contract with your employer, there is still a contract in place if your employer has agreed to pay you to work for them, even if this is only a verbal agreement.

Currently, employers have up to two months to issue a written statement (which must contain specific terms and conditions covering your employment) to any employee working for them for more than a month. However, from 6th April 2020, the right to a statement of written particulars will become a day one right.

Even without a written contract, you will have clear rights under the law, including the right to be paid the agreed amount for agreed work, the right to the national minimum wage and the right to paid holidays.

Your employer cannot normally change your hours of work without giving notice to you or obtaining your consent. However, this will depend on the exact terms included in your contract.

If your contract specifies that your employer has the right to require you to work different hours, they will likely be able to do so, as long as they comply with any conditions set out in the contract for doing so.

For a settlement agreement to be legally binding, there are certain key conditions that must be met.

These are:

  • The agreement must be in writing
  • The agreement must be related to a specific issue (i.e. it cannot simply require the employee to agree to never bring a claim against the employer for any reason)
  • The employee must have had advice from an appropriate independent adviser e.g. a lawyer or certified trade union representative
  • The employee’s adviser must have appropriate insurance
  • The employee’s adviser must be identified in the agreement
  • The relevant statutory conditions regulating the agreement must be stated in the agreement

We regularly act as employee advisers for settlement agreements as well as drafting the agreements and providing representation during negotiations for employers.

Speak to our employment lawyers in Bristol today

We work with employees all over the UK from our six offices spread across Bristol and the surrounding area in Bedminster, Bishopston, Clifton, Kingswood, Queen Square and Thornbury.

Whatever your employment situation, we’ll aim to resolve your issue quickly and effectively. As well as advising you on issues such as contracts and redundancy, we also have extensive experience in representing employees at employment tribunals, appeal tribunals and the higher courts.

If you need legal advice about employment law, call us on 0117 325 2929 or complete our online enquiry form.




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  • "Very polite conversation, advised me of all the facts clearly and concisely, and gave me clear direction."
    Mr SEmployment Client
  • "Samantha was very extremely professional and efficient in her advice and carrying out the work. However she was also very personable and kind which was much appreciated in the circumstances."
    AnonEmployment Client
  • "Samantha, thank you for your help and advice, you made the process very straightforward and it was a pleasure meeting with you."
    AnonEmployment Client
  • "Excellent service, communication and integrity shown throughout the entire process; my dealings with both the wider business and partner who oversaw my case did not disappoint at ANY stage."
    Mr FEmployment Law Client
  • "I’m happy it’s all over! Thanks so much for all your help and guidance with this matter."
    Mr WoottenEmployment Law Client