April 17, 2023

Ilinca answers your top 10 employment queries

This post was written by: Laaibah Bhatti

Employment law can be complicating. However it’s important for both employers and employees to understand their rights and responsibilities to ensure the employment relationship can continue in a positive and productive manner for all parties concerned.

When employment problems or queries arise it’s crucial to get in touch with an experienced employment law solicitor to ensure matters do not escalate. That’s why we’ve put together a handy guide answering the Top 10 employment law FAQs.

  • What exactly is employment law?

Employment law concerns all the rights and obligations within the employer & employee relationship. It covers everything from discrimination, equality and harassment issues in the workplace, working hours, performance issues, sickness or absence in the workplace, wage disputes, unfair or wrongful termination and much more.

  • Do employers need to have an employee handbook?

Although many employers have an employee handbook which usually contains various employment policies, it is not a mandatory requirement.  However, there are certain employment policies that are required, such as a Disciplinary and Grievance policy or a Privacy policy.  Although not a legal requirement therefore, a handbook is highly recommended for the benefit or all parties concerned.

  • How much notice does an employee have to give when resigning?

A notice period allows the employer to put the wheels in motion for hiring a replacement, arranging a handover and tying up any loose ends. Before handing in your notice, it is important to read your contract carefully and learn how much notice you need to give.  If you don’t give the proper notice, it may mean you are in breach of your contract.

For employers, there is a minimum statutory notice required which is based on how long an employee has been employed.  This minimum cannot be overridden by the contract oof employment but employers are able to offer more notice if so desired.

  • Can I sue my employer if I am treated unfairly?

It’s possible for employees to bring a claim against their employers if they have engaged in some sort of wrongful or illegal behaviour, or if the employee has had their rights and freedoms infringed upon in some way.  For example, if you have not been paid correctly, got fired unfairly, or were discriminated against because of your race, gender, religion or other “protected characteristic” you could have a case.  It is important to speak to a specialist straight away if you feel that is the case as failure to act promptly could mean you lose the right to bring a claim.

  • What is redundancy?

A redundancy situation arises when an employee is dismissed and the reason is mainly attributable to a business closure, workplace closure or reduced requirement for employees.

  • What are the steps required if I feel I have been treated unfairly?

Most employment law claims need to be issued within three months less 1 day so prompt action is crucial. Redundancy pay or equal pay claims have slightly longer at six months and there is the possibility of extending these time periods through conciliation but time limitation matters can be complex so it is advisable to speak to an employment law solicitor as soon as possible who will be able to advise on what you need to do and by when.

  • What are the benefits of a settlement agreement?

A Settlement Agreement provides the employee with an extra sum of money (often tax-free) to help them to move on.  In return for that, the employee agrees not to issue proceedings against the employer. They are useful in providing a clean and amicable break between the parties.

It is a legal requirement that employees are given proper legal advice prior to entering into a Settlement Agreement and the employer usually pays for that advice.

  • How much annual leave am I entitled to?

How much holiday you get is normally set out in your contract of employment. The statutory minimum for a full-time employee is 5.6 weeks, which can include bank and public holidays.  However, contractually more annual leave entitlement can be agreed upon between the parties. 

Annual leave entitlement is calculated on a pro-rata basis for an employee working irregular or part-time house.

  • What is a dismissal?

A dismissal is when an employer ends an employee’s contract. In layman’s terms it is often referred to as being “sacked” or “fired”. It’s important that an employer uses a fair and reasonable procedure to decide when and whether to dismiss someone or the dismissal could be unfair.  However, there are situations when an employee can be dismissed fairly.

  1. How can I raise a problem at work?

If you have a problem at work, you should try raising it informally with your employer first. You may feel nervous about raising a problem, but employers are often open to resolving problems quickly without going through a formal procedure.  Employee Handbooks will usually have a procedure set out which is referred to as the Grievance Procedure and this should be your first port of call when you cannot resolve matters informally. 

For more information or to discuss a matter, please contact Ilinca Mardarescu, our very own employment solicitor, at imadarescu@astonbond.co.uk or 01753 486777.