How To Start
Employment law can be complicated, and few people have a clear idea of all their rights at work. If you think your employer has treated you unfairly, it is important to get legal advice at the earliest opportunity. In some circumstances, there are particular steps you must follow to sort problems out with your employer before you can take a complaint to an employment tribunal, as well as specific deadlines for making such complaints. Generally, the longer you leave a problem, the harder it is to solve.
A solicitor can:
• explain your options
• tell you if you have a legal case against your employer
• help you decide whether your case is worth taking further
• explain what you should do next
If you are a trade union member, you may be able to get legal
advice from a union official or a solicitor appointed by the union.
Once you have found a solicitor, you should explain your situation briefly over the phone and set a date for a meeting. Make sure that you mention the dates of the events you are concerned about. If you plan to take someone with you to the meeting, mention this and ask if there are any documents you need to bring.
What your solicitor needs to know:
• how long you have worked for your employer
• how much do you earn
• the details of your problem at work
• what events have led you to your current situation
• whether you have any relevant documents
• whether there are any documents which you do not have that
might be relevant to the case
• what, if anything, you have already done to sort the matter out
Exploring the alternatives
Once you have explained your circumstances in detail, your solicitor can explain your options. If your solicitor believes you have a case and you want to take it further, you need to decide
how you are going to do this. If you have not already done so, you may need to try to sort the problem out with your employer direct before taking any other action. Your solicitor can help you set out your case and, Your guide to Problems at work if appropriate, try to negotiate a settlement for you. If you are happy to carry out negotiations directly with your employer, your solicitor can offer useful advice on how best to go about doing this. If you cannot solve the problem with your employer direct, an employment tribunal may be your best option. If so, your solicitor can help by preparing your case or representing you at the tribunal.
Following Your Employer’s Procedures
It is important to try to sort out your problem with your employer directly first, either informally or using their formal complaints/grievance procedure. If you have started using your employer’s complaints procedures or if your employer has started to take action against you (for example: about your behaviour, the quality of your work, your ability to do your job, or your attendance) you should try to go to any meetings that are arranged and use any appeal procedures your employer has in place. You should try to solve your problem with your employer directly because:
• matters can often be sorted out quite quickly this way
• employment tribunals can reduce your compensation if you haven’t tried to sort out the matter with your employer before taking your case to them.
The time limits for taking your claim to a tribunal depend on what your complaint is about. If you are complaining because you think you were unfairly dismissed, you must make your claim to the tribunal within three months of the date you were dismissed (you must lodge your claim no later than three months less one day from the day you were dismissed).
If your claim is about statutory redundancy payments, you have six months to make your claim to the tribunal, from the date you were dismissed. If your claim is about a breach of contract (for example, that your employer has not paid your wages), you must claim within three months of the date the non-payment (the breach) occurred.
In your claim, you need to set out:
• your name and address
• the name and address of the respondent or respondents (the person or organisation against whom you are making a claim)
• the details of your complaint
The deadlines may sometimes be extended by the tribunal, but only in special circumstances. We have set out above a brief summary of the basic rules but because the rules on time limits are complicated, it is worth getting advice from a solicitor as soon as you can to make sure you make your claim in time.
Ref: The law Society.org.uk