employment law

Will COVID-19 affect my employment rights?

Employers cannot use COVID-19 as an excuse to pay you less or make you work longer hours. Whether you are back in the office full time or still on furlough, your rights still apply. If you feel you have been treated differently due to COVID-19, speak to your employment law solicitor to get further advice and guidance. 

Can I claim for unfair dismissal?

If you were employed before 6 April 2012, you would need at least two years of continuous service to bring a claim for unfair dismissal. You can also file a claim even if you didn’t serve your employer for the required period if you think that the reason for your termination was ‘automatically unfair’, as you may still be entitled to compensation. 

If you are not sure whether you can claim for unfair dismissal, contact your employment law solicitor, who will be able to advise you further on whether you can make a claim. 

Can I be made redundant whilst on maternity leave?

If you face redundancy in the workplace whilst you are on maternity leave, this can be incredibly stressful and challenging. You cannot be made redundant because you are pregnant, as you are protected under the Equality Act 2010. 

However, if other redundancies are being made and you have been selected for reasons other than being pregnant or on maternity leave, you could still be made redundant. 

Can I be turned down for a flexible working request?

If you have over 26 weeks of service with your company, you have the right to request flexible working, and every employer must consider your request. This doesn’t, however, mean that you are automatically entitled to your flexible working request. 

Your employer must give you a decision within three months, and if your request has been denied, you must be offered a valid reason as to why. If you are unhappy with your employer’s decision, you have the right to appeal.

What happens at an employment tribunal?

On arrival, you will need a valid passport or another form of ID. You will also need to inform the court if you are representing yourself or someone else. You will then be given an appointment at the court registry office, where you will need to provide all relevant documents, including birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce decrees etc. If you are representing yourself, you must bring a notarised declaration of representation. You may also need to obtain a copy of a bank statement showing your current financial situation. 

Witnesses will usually need to attend within two weeks of the date of the hearing. You must remain calm throughout the hearing and answer questions clearly and concisely. It would help if you also prepared yourself mentally for the experience of giving evidence.

There are two main areas of the court complex. There is Court Room A, where the claimant and respondent sit together and wait for the hearing to begin. The other area is the waiting room. Here you can relax and read magazines and newspapers. If you have a disability, you can request an accessible space in the waiting room. You can also bring your own snacks and drinks. During the lunch break, you can go out for a meal.

The claimant usually gives their evidence first. This is because they have the burden of proof and must show that the reason given by the respondent for dismissing them is not valid. If the respondent presents evidence that the dismissal was justified, the claimant must provide evidence to counter this.

What does employment law cover?

Employment law is a very broad subject and ultimately spans all aspects of a relationship between an employee and employer. Employment law covers but is not limited to employment contracts, producing and painting work policies and procedures, managing conflict and change, including redundancy and disciplinary. 

Why does employment law exist?

Employment law exists to support and protect employers and employees from any wrongdoing or discrimination. Employment law outlines the rights and duties of each party. It provides a path to resolving disputes should there be a failure by either party to comply and protect obligations and rights, respectively.

What is a settlement agreement?

A settlement agreement is a contract between two parties. It is not necessarily binding on third parties. It may also be called a release, waiver, covenant, or disclaimer. It is often used to resolve claims made by employees against employers. 

An example of a settlement agreement is if an employee is fired and wants to sue their employer for wrongful termination. The employer may offer a settlement agreement to avoid litigation costs and time spent defending the lawsuit.

Have I been discriminated against at work?

If you feel you have been or are being discriminated against in the workplace, we advise you to speak with an employment solicitor as soon as possible. It is unlawful to be discriminated against at work on the basis of your sex, religion and belief or because you are pregnant or on maternity. 

For more information about protected characteristics, take a look at the Equality Act 2010. You can also see our blog on discrimination for more information. 

What is the national living wage?

The National Living Wage is in place to ensure that all businesses are paying their staff correctly. The National Living Wage increases every year on 1 April, and most recently (2022), the wage increased as shown below:

21 to 22 18 to 20 Under 18 Apprentice
£9.18 £6.83 £4.81 £4.81

If you think you are being paid incorrectly, speak to your local employment law solicitor, who will be able to support you further.