Personal Legal Services | Employment Law
The law sets out rules and procedures governing the employer-employee relationship, but when problems arise it can be hard to determine exactly what your rights are. Questions arise such as can you do anything if you are dismissed or made redundant? Are you still bound by your contractual obligations? What terms should be in a settlement agreement? The answers to these and other employment questions can make a big difference to your peace of mind and financial wellbeing.
If you are involved in disciplinary or grievance procedures at work, or if your employment has been terminated, you need to know your rights in order to pursue the appropriate resolution.
We are experienced in advising employees on a range of employment issues such as:
- Advising on the merits of accepting Settlement Agreements. We have successfully negotiated an increase in employee settlement packages.
- Advising employees in pursuing appeals against disciplinary outcomes.
- Advising employees on claims for unlawful deduction of wages.
- Advising employees on the steps and procedures to adopt when making a grievance complaint to their employer.
You will have an experienced solicitor acting for you who can deal with all stages of a problem, from providing initial advice to representing you before an employment tribunal. For your convenience we can meet with you in any one of our local offices in Studley, Worcester or Birmingham.
Workplace Harassment and Bullying
Our client had been signed off from work due to work related stress. At the time of instructing us, the client had been off work for just over a month.
During our initial meeting, it became clear that the ‘work related stress’ was caused due to what our client perceived as bullying and harassment and lack of support from the employer. Our client was also subject to disciplinary actions for matters that would not normally require a formal investigation or a disciplinary hearing. In addition, since being signed off from work, the client had not received his statutory sick pay and outstanding holiday pay.
During the meeting we advised our client of the following options:
1. Resign from this position and bring a claim for constructive unfair dismissal
2. Try and negotiate a settlement agreement with the employer.
With regards to the first option, while it was more appealing to the client, it was also important that our advise was on the strength of evidence, in order to ensure that our client had appropriate understanding of the chances of success and failure.
While it was clear that the behaviour of the employer was not appropriate, there was a lack of strong evidence that would help prove our client’s case of bullying and harassment. With regards to the disciplinary meetings, while they seemed unnecessary, a reasonable tribunal could come to the conclusion that an employer was entitled to carry out a formal investigation of the various issues. Therefore while this option was available to the client, the chances of success were limited.
With regards to the second option, we explained that this would be a better option for the client. The benefit for the client was that if there was no resignation, there would at least be some payment on leaving the employment.
We also explained to the client, that the strongest claim was in respect of holiday pay and statutory sick pay. As the client was entitled to these payments by law, the employer had no real justification for withholding payments.
We wrote to the employer firstly highlighting our concerns and making them aware of our client’s potential claim. We also suggested that they offer our client a settlement agreement to bring matters to an amicable end.
Following our letter, our client immediately received the outstanding statutory sick pay and holiday pay. The employer however, rejected the proposal of a settlement agreement, on the basis that our client was still its employee and as such should raise a formal grievance highlighting his concerns.
On attending the grievance meeting our client’s concerns were dealt with by his employers and investigations were carried out against the individuals whom our client felt had been bullying.
This was a very good result for our client, as we were able to resolve the issue without having to initiate formal tribunal proceedings, without the certainty of success. Our involvement in this matter prompted the employer to take appropriate action and deal with the issues raised.
The client was an individual who was employed in a senior, global position with an international bank. The client had been dismissed following allegations of gross misconduct.
We assisted the client in drafting a detailed and extensive letter appealing against the dismissal. Within this appeal letter we addressed both factual and procedural matters in order to persuade the appeal panel that the decision to summarily dismiss our client was unreasonable.
Following the appeal hearing, the client received confirmation that his appeal was being upheld in part. In that regard, the decision was made that summary dismissal was not appropriate. The bank however still believed that dismissal was an appropriate sanction albeit that they agreed to pay our client in lieu of his notice entitlement. Given the seniority of our client, this amounted to a sum in excess of £180,000.
Although our client continued to be dissatisfied by the outcome, he accepted that the financial benefits of issuing a claim for unfair dismissal in the employment tribunal were somewhat limited given the level of his salary. Of primary importance to our client was an agreed reference to both the FCA and to potential employers. As such, we were able to negotiate an acceptable reference on behalf of our client. The reference was given as consideration for our client waiving any employment rights that he may have within a settlement agreement.
The client was pleased with the outcome given that he had achieved a payment in excess of £180,000 and given that he had a reference that allowed him to find alternative employment.
The client approached us to ask whether we would be able to support her in obtaining a favourable exit package, given that she did not believe she could continue to work for her existing employer. We therefore discussed with the client various options available to her, including resignation, raising a grievance or merely approaching HR. After careful consideration of the facts we advised that the way to achieve a favourable outcome would be to raise a grievance in the first instance. We therefore assisted the client in drafting a detailed and extensive grievance letter setting out the nature of complaints that she had. Predominantly these complaints related to her direct line manager but there were other issues relating to the overall management structure which were relevant and which added credibility to the statements being made by her.
As a result of the grievance letter, our client was invited to a without prejudice meeting with HR and a settlement proposal was put to her. The client believes that this proposal was far in excess of any sum that would have been offered to her had she not raised the grievance in the way we had advised.
In addition, we were able to advise our client not to sign the settlement agreement in the first instance given that it made no reference to her share options. The value of the share options was in excess of £40,000 and, as such, it was vital that they were incorporated into the agreement itself. We therefore negotiated an amendment to the agreement which allowed our client to exercise her share options within the 6 months period following the termination of her employment.
The client was delighted with the outcome achieved on her behalf.
Pro Bono Unfair Dismissal
Our client’s original solicitor advised her that she had excellent prospects of success and on that basis agreed to take the matter on a conditional fee basis. On receipt of various copy emails from the employer which they claimed proved poor performance, the solicitor subsequently declined to act for the client further and advised her that she would need to instruct counsel to support her at the hearing if she wished to proceed.
Thomas Guise’s Employment Team reviewed the evidence produced by the employer and did not believe it provided any indication of poor performance. As such, we agreed to take on the matter on a pro bono basis.
Our client was disputing that she had been unfairly dismissed and discriminated against on the grounds of her pregnancy.
During the period leading up to the dismissal there had been a number of occasions where her Operations Manager had made working for the company significantly difficult such as; a reduction in her workload, exclusion from office conversation, change in job title on her email salutation, made to book annual leave for ante natal appointments and changing her working hours. As such, the matter caused her stress and upset.
Eventually our client was invited to a private meeting with the Operations Manager; the Account Manager was also present. During this meeting she was informed that her employment was being terminated. Despite asking, she was not told the reason for her dismissal. During proceedings however the employer claimed that the dismissal was due to poor performance.
Counsel who attended the hearing commented that the matter was only ready for tribunal due to the significant amount of work carried out by us. Indeed, the evidence as presented by us and Counsel at hearing resulted in a successful outcome with an award for damages in excess of £27,000. This represented over 12 months salary so was an excellent result given that the client had only been employed for a matter of months.
The client was delighted with the outcome achieved on her behalf.
Meet our Employment Team
Geoffrey Ellis – Director
Amanda Pillinger – Consultant