MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Our expert team are highly qualified and well experienced when it comes to all matters concerning the employment of people. Whether you need help with contracts of employment, managing sickness or under-performance or you are involved in a tribunal dispute, our approach will provide you with a bespoke and supportive service, that you can rely on.
Our clients range from private, public and third sector organisations to individuals in a private capacity and we regularly work with a mixture of in-house legal teams, HR departments, HR consultants, business owners, managers, directors and individuals.
We can either provide support on an arm’s length basis or we can offer a complete employment solution where there is little or no internal HR expertise in place. Either way, we work with you to find the solution that best meets the needs of your circumstances and requirements.
what we do for
Our team has a wealth of experience in employment law having worked in both large international law firms, and in-house in commercial enterprises. We strive to deliver expert advice that’s personable, honest, pragmatic and cost effective. Regardless of the size and scale of the business, we listen to our clients and tailor our service to suit their needs in order to achieve the best possible results.
AREAS OF EXPERTISE
Contracts of employment, policies & hand books
We review and suggest amendments to existing contracts, policies and employee handbooks where they already exist – to bring them up to date with changes in the law, best HR practice and changes within the business. Where a business is just starting out or growing from a start-up, we provide templates for use in hiring new employees. The contract and the handbook is the starting point for the relationship between the business and its employees – it’s the foundation stone and the first place we look when we are asked to advise on any areas of conflict between a business and its employees, so it is important that it accurately reflects the business’ current approach to management of employees and how the business works, as well as being legally compliant.
As an employer there may be a variety of circumstances in which you may agree with an employee their exit from the business on mutually agreed terms, and want the security of knowing that no litigation will follow. A settlement agreement describes the terms agreed between the business and the employee who is leaving and typically provides that those terms are in full and final settlement of all potential claims that the employee may have against the business as a result of their employment and the termination of it.
Where a business faces the need to reduce the workforce or close a business or part of it, redundancies are likely to result. An employer is required to enter into formal joint consultation with Trade Unions or elected employee representatives ahead of any redundancies taking affect if 20 or more employees are at risk of redundancy from one establishment in a 90 day period. Even if there are less employee’s affected employers are expected to adopt fair means of selecting those to be made redundant and consult with employees individually about the impact of their selection. Significant costs can be incurred by an employer who is not aware or fails to meet its obligations.
Getting reward strategy right can make a big difference to the success of recruitment and ongoing staff loyalty and retention. A well-defined strategy should align with your overall business objectives and also be a good fit with your specific workforce, processes, values and culture. We can help you shape and tailor your organisations approach to reward looking at a broad range of factors from salary, benefits and bonus through to training, development and the working environment, to ensure you’re attracting the best employees and motivating your existing teams.
Salary benchmarking is not just an activity for large corporates any more, many SMEs are now realising the benefits of reviewing their salary offering. Our in-house HR specialist can provide insight on trends in your industry and competitor comparisons, and help with designing pay structures and progression frameworks. Our clients can also benefit from our access to online salary benchmarking tools to help you better understand where your organisation sits within the marketplace.
Employment tribunals and court claims
Employees and workers may bring claims against your business and we can help you to defend the business (and prevent them if involved early enough!). Litigation is expensive and time consuming, we take a pragmatic and commercial approach to our advice and our handling of litigation on our clients’ behalf.
Executives and shareholders
Are the constitutional documents for your business in apple pie order? Shareholders agreements, the articles of association and Directors’ service agreements are the cornerstones to peace and harmony in your owner managed business…..and the rules on exit when things don’t go quite to plan. So whether its planning for the future success or for potentially negative outcomes, it is essential that all owner managers are aware of their rights and obligations, and their route to exit. We can help you prepare for the future or exit from your past as cleanly and swiftly as possible.
Trade unions and employee engagement
Does your business recognise a Trade Union or is it facing a recognition request? Do you have other established mechanisms for consulting with your employees or have you received a request for an information and consultation agreement? There are many positive reasons to have healthy and effective communication arrangements with your workforce and we can advise on the various mechanisms, making the most of those relationships, managing any disputes that arise and articulating the rules of engagement.
Empowering your managers with the correct policies and the confidence to act on them to manage their teams is essential in businesses of all sizes, for reasons of efficiency and good employee relations. Our team can train your HR colleagues and line managers in all aspects of employment law and HR subjects, using practical tools and case studies. We can also provide training at Executive level on the Companies Act obligations of statutory board members .
Lack of attendance or reliability is a key issue for business and can be difficult to manage, particularly when mental health is involved, or where there is a combination of issues ( e.g. poor health and unreliability, and underperformance when in attendance, are often seen together). We can draft policies to support effective management of these issues and provide step by step guidance to navigate through an employer’s desire to understand the root cause of absence and either take steps to support an employee’s return to reliable attendance or exit the employee from the business.
Tupe and business change
Any change within a business is likely to have an employment law impact. Where a business (or part) is bought or sold, or a service contract lost or won, and employees are aligned to the business which is moving, it is important to understand any obligations and consequences of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE). Employers who do not take advice or work within the regulations can face surprising and significant unbudgeted costs.
Protecting intellectual property rights
If you have an innovative product or your employees are creating, designing or crafting something new, the rights to exploit the innovation belong to your business. You can ensure that you protect that right and that your business is well positioned to exploit the full potential of it, by including careful wording in your contracts of employment and policies. And if anything goes wrong, we can help you to recover and protect what rightfully belongs to your business.
Investigations, disciplinaries, grievances
Where an employee is suspected of wrongdoing, or alleges wrongdoing by the business or a colleague, an investigation should be conducted by an independent person, different to the person who may ultimately decide on any disciplinary proceedings or a grievance procedure that follows. We can act as an independent investigator, or conduct disciplinary and grievance procedures on behalf of your business, where time, resources or practicalities require it. In the alternative, in order to mitigate risks of a claim, we can coach you through formal procedures and decision making, providing a step by step guide, templates letters and meeting scripts to guide you through the trickiest of issues.
Employee shareholder schemes
Those participating in such schemes are required to take advice independent of the business. We offer independent advice to participants on cost effective terms.
Where relations are strained between co-workers, or the business and an employee, mediation can help to ensure the relationship survives the difficulty. Mediation focusses on repairing and moving on, rather than fact finding and blame allocation. When losing a disenfranchised employee could damage your business, or be hard to replace, this may be an essential tool.
what we do for
It’s important to be valued and treated equally in the workplace, but it can be challenging to fully understand all of your workplace rights and how to protect them, without expert support. Our straightforward approach to employment law advice is what makes us, us. We believe that a jargon free approach offers you a transparent service that keeps you firmly in control. Our specialist team of employment law experts work with you to provide sensible, pragmatic advice, that gets results.
AREAS OF EXPERTISE
Unfair dismissal and disciplinaries
If you have attended an investigatory meeting, been invited to a disciplinary hearing or have had allegations made about your conduct or under-performance, the continuation of your employment may be at risk. We can help you to understand the process you are facing, and assert your rights to be treated fairly and reasonably within that process. We may also be able to influence the outcome by helping you to articulate your response to the allegations or offer mitigating evidence to reduce the impact of any consequences. The sooner you seek advice, generally, the better the outcome for you. If ultimately you lose your job, we can advise you on your rights and options to address any unfairness or failure in procedure through appeal stages, ACAS conciliation and eventually an employment tribunal complaint.
Contractual rights and changes
Your employer might make changes to the terms of your employment, where you work or the rate of pay. You might feel you are owed money by your employer or you have lost out on a benefit promised to you. We can advise you on the strength of your claim and help you to address it with your employer or through the employment tribunal.
If you believe you are owed money by your employer we can help you to understand the merits of your claim and articulate it in such a way designed to maximise the chances of your recovering the sum outstanding. We can assist with money claims through the courts and tribunals if informal demands have been unsuccessful in securing payment.
You might want to try to negotiate the terms of your contract of employment in order to work more flexibly for any number of reasons including carer responsibilities, a desire to take on retraining or to achieve a better work life balance. We can advise you on your rights to apply for flexible working arrangements and help you to articulate your request in such a way as to maximise a successful result.
Family friendly rights
Employees who are expecting a baby or adopting a child have a range of rights to time off from work, with and without pay, and some additional legal protections. We can advise you on the full extent of your rights and some options you and your family have in order to maximise the range of rights to better suit your family. If your rights are denied, we can help you to formulate your complaint to bring about change.
You may be facing a redundancy situation in your employment or have been made redundant by your employer. We can help you to understand the process you are involved in, your legal rights, how you can optimise your position, and what you can expect on an exit. If your employer has not met all of its obligations we can assist you in an internal appeal or to pursue your complaint on a more formal basis through ACAS and the employment tribunals.
If you have been offered a negotiated exit from your employment, your employer will usually ask you to sign a settlement agreement under which you confirm that you accept the terms on offer in full and final settlement of all and any claims arising from your employment and the termination of it. For the settlement agreement to be binding, the employee is required to take independent employment advice from a qualified adviser about the meaning of the settlement agreement and its impact on your ability to bring a legal claim against your employer. We can act as your qualified adviser on the settlement agreement, offering advice on the adequacy of the financial package offered to you (compared with what you might achieve by bringing a claim) and also on the detailed terms of the agreement itself. We can negotiate with your employer on your behalf should you wish us to do so.
Employment tribunals and court claims
If you have been dismissed, treated unfairly, discriminated against, you are owed money by your employer, or your legal rights have been infringed in any way, and it has not been possible to resolve the issue through internal channels or an informal route, we can advise you on your prospects of success and the costs associated with bringing a claim in the employment tribunal and or other courts. We use lots of pragmatic strategies to try to avoid litigation where appropriate and only resort to litigation when employees are fully aware of the costs, action steps and level of engagement required and any risks associated with bringing a claim.
Restrictive covenants and contractual terms
The terms of your contract of employment are (mostly) binding on you from the minute you accept those terms and sign your new contract of employment. If then you do not like the terms or do not understand them or how they may impact on your future career mobility in the market place, you should take advice on the terms of the contract (particularly the enforceability and reach of any restrictive covenants) and negotiation techniques you might deploy in order to mitigate any consequences at the end of your time with that employer. Also consider taking advice on the package offered to you – does it reflect the norm in the market and your value to that organisation?
Employees and workers are protected from suffering detriment as a result of discriminatory treatment based on any protected characteristics. Protected characteristics include age, sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marital status, pregnancy or maternity, religious and political beliefs, race, colour, nationality , and disability. We can help you to pursue any complaint based on discrimination through internal and external channels in pursuant of achieving a change in practice or monetary compensation.
You can raise a formal or informal grievance if you have any complaint about the way you are or have been treated by your employer, a colleague or a third party you come across where the treatment about which you are complaining occurs in the context of your work. We can advise you on your rights, the process you can expect to follow, how to best articulate your complaints and the options available to resolve your concerns.