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, exploring your employment rights or renegotiating your terms, our specialist workplace lawyers are experienced at dealing with sensitive employment situations.
Our specialist solicitors provide prompt and professional employee legal advice on a range of employment-related issues, including redundancy and disciplinary issues. Our employment lawyers can also support you if you’ve been a victim of discrimination at work, or if you’ve suffered wrongful, unfair or constructive dismissal.
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. Our employment solicitors 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)
Get in touch with our employment solicitors in Bristol
How our employment solicitors can help you to resolve a dispute
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 agree not to pursue an employment tribunal claim against your employer or former employer. This is 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 intends to encourage employers and employees to work together to agree on 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, 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 involves 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. They 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 for employment law matters start from £230 plus VAT to £40,000 plus VAT (VAT is calculated at the rate applicable at the time the work is carried out; currently 20%), plus disbursements.
Employment law disbursements (including Counsel’s fees for employment tribunals) will typically range from £0 to £15,000.
These price indications are based on cases dealt with by the firm from January 2017 to April 2021, and prices are based on our hourly rates.
It is worth bearing in mind that, in some cases, your employer may cover some or all of your legal costs. For example, your employer will normally pay for you to receive independent legal advice on a settlement agreement.
Our employment lawyers can discuss costs with you from the outset. We can offer pricing and payment options, including fixed fees for settlement agreements and payment instalments.
Find out about our employment tribunal pricing.
Our employment law advice expertise
Samantha is a member of the Employment Lawyers Association (ELA) and was named Bristol Law Society’s Lawyer of the Year in 2017. Samantha and James have acted across all areas of employment law for many years, including in employment tribunal proceedings.
Barcan+Kirby are recognised by the Law Society with their Lexcel accreditation, reflecting the strength of our client services. We are also 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.
Our employment solicitors advised the client of her various options. This took her immediate and long-term concerns about any impact on her career into account. We drafted a letter of resignation for the client, stating 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 employer and secured a favourable settlement without the need for 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.
- 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.
If your home insurance policy includes cover for legal fees relating to employment disputes, you should first double check the paperwork for your policy, or contact the insurer directly to see what exactly is covered.
Home insurance policies usually offer funding for legal fees up to a set limit, and for employment claims that are thought to have a reasonable chance of success. They will usually only cover you once you have gone through your employer’s internal process and ACAS’ early conciliation process. Furthermore, the insurance may not cover you for work undertaken before our employment solicitors can confirm your prospects of success.
If you are not covered, our employment solicitors will go through their costs and payment options with you, so you’ll know what you will pay from the outset.
We understand that seeking legal advice for an employment issue can seem daunting and expensive. When something goes wrong at work, sometimes seeking legal help is the only way to achieve justice and a way to move forward. Therefore, when you meet with our employment lawyers, as well as talking through your options and how we can help, will discuss our fees and payment options with you.
Our initial meeting (up to one hour) costs from £230 plus VAT. This can provide helpful guidance and assistance for you to consider how you wish to proceed with your claim.
Thereafter, our employment solicitors can work with you to ensure that you have cost-effective support for your individual circumstances.
Our employment law solicitors offer fixed fees for settlement agreements.
Speak to our employment solicitors in Bristol today
We work with employees all over the UK from our offices spread across Bristol and South Gloucestershire.
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.