Employment Law

The law has given employees, and in some cases other workers who might not count as employees, rights and entitlements in relation to their employment, including how they are disciplined and dismissed or made redundant, how their grievances are handled, wages, absence from work and sickness, holidays, work breaks and working hours, time off for family emergencies, maternity and paternity leave, and the right to apply for flexible working.

All workers have the right not to be discriminated against in relation to age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation.

Employees who feel they have been denied their rights have redress by taking their employers to an employment tribunal.

Wrongful Dismissal – Claims and Defence

Generally an employee who has completed more than two continuous year’s employment is protected from unfair dismissal.

In order for a dismissal to be fair the reason for the dismissal must be one of these potentially fair reasons:

  • Reasons related to the capability or qualifications of the employee.
  • Reasons related to the conduct of the employee.
  • Redundancy.
  • Where his continued employment would involve him or the employer contravening a duty or restriction imposed by law.
  • Some other substantial reason.

In all cases the employer’s decision to dismiss must satisfy a test of fairness. If the employer has not followed a fair procedure in making the decision to dismiss an employee the dismissal will usually be ruled to be unfair.

Employment Tribunals and Appeals

A Tribunal will look at all the circumstances of a dismissal in order to decide whether the decision to dismiss was a reasonable response to the circumstances and the facts known to the employer at the time. If the claimant is found to be unfairly dismissed the Tribunal will award compensation made up of two components.

The basic award is calculated in the same way as a statutory redundancy payment multiplying a week’s pay by the number of years worked adjusted according to the claimant’s age. Over and above the basic award the Tribunal may award compensation to meet the claimant’s financial losses caused by the dismissal.

You can appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) if you think a legal mistake was made in an employment tribunal case.

For example, you could appeal if it:

  • got the law wrong
  • didn’t apply the correct law
  • didn’t follow the correct procedures and this affected the decision
  • had no evidence to support its decision
  • was unfairly biased towards the other party

Redundancy Claims and Defence

Your employer may have made you redundant when actually you’ve been unfairly dismissed. Or maybe there was a redundancy situation in your workplace but your employer didn’t follow the selection process correctly.

If you think you shouldn’t have been made redundant or you think that your employer didn’t follow the process correctly, you may be able to make a claim to an employment tribunal for unfair dismissal. Depending on the reasons why you’ve been dismissed you may also be able to make a claim for discrimination.

Your employer doesn’t have to follow the Acas code when they make you redundant but they do have to make sure that the selection process for choosing you was fair.

The tribunal will look at whether:

  • there was a genuine need to make redundancies in your workplace
  • your employer followed a fair procedure for consulting the workforce and selecting people for redundancy
  • the decision to select you was fair
  • your employer made reasonable efforts to find you alternative employment elsewhere in the company.

Employment Contracts

A contract of employment is an agreement between an employer and employee and is the basis of the employment relationship.

An employer must give employees a ‘written statement of employment particulars’ if their employment contract lasts at least a month or more. This isn’t an employment contract but will include the main conditions of employment.

The employer must provide the written statement within 2 months of the start of employment.

If an employee works abroad for more than a month during their first 2 months’ employment, the employer must give them the written statement before they leave.

Most employment contracts do not need to be in writing to be legally valid, but it is better if they are. A written statement must have certain things included and can be made up of more than one document. To protect your businesses and employees rights this should be done by a professionally trained barrister. Our team of Barristers can help draft this legal document so you know you are within the law.

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