Working Life

For many of our clients, a significant proportion of their lives are spent at work. Issues at work can be stressful and time-consuming. Our experts help clients throughout their employment, from entering into an employment contract to the termination of their employment. We know that personal issues can often have an impact on employment, and vice-versa.

Our employment experts work closely with other experts in the firm to ensure that our client’s working lives are as happy as possible.

We can help with:

  • Employment contracts
  • Redundancy
  • Settlement agreements
  • Discrimination
  • Unfair dismissal
  • Constructive dismissal
  • Personal issues that may affect employment e.g. speeding fines, relationship issues.
  • Bullying and harassment at work
  • Equal opportunities
  • Grievance and disciplinary procedures
  • Health and safety policies
  • Industrial disputes
  • Maternity, paternity and adoption leave
  • TUPE
  • Working time requirements

Frequently Asked Questions

For most people, their pet is as much a member of their family as their human family members and for many, their pet is their only companion. The loss of a much-loved pet often induces feelings of bereavement and grief.

Acas guidance states that grief can interfere with a bereaved person’s thought processes, concentration, and sleep patterns, which could affect their ability to perform at work and dealing with bereavement can have an impact on a person’s mental health.

Employees are entitled to ‘reasonable’ time off to deal with unexpected issues and emergencies involving the dependant including, if a 'dependant' dies. A dependent is classed as their partner, parent, child, or someone else who relied on them and does not include a pet.

There have been calls for employees to be entitled to time off to deal with issues relating to their pets and indeed last year a petition was started by an employee who was dismissed from her job due to her not attending work because she was grief stricken over the loss of her pet.

Unfortunately, despite these calls there is currently nothing in the law that entitles an employee to time off in relation to their pet. You can of course speak to your employer and see if they would allow you to take some time off or, alternatively you can use some of your annual leave entitlement.

Employees spend most of their waking day at work – meaning that they can often spend more time with work colleagues than their own family. For this reason, facing problems at work can have a huge impact on an individual.

If issues are not dealt with quickly and effectively, a minor problem can develop into something more serious. Depending on the nature and cause of the problem, an employee may find themselves feeling stressed and anxious, and in some more extreme cases, experiencing more serious mental health issues.

Employees can often feel alone and isolated during these times, not knowing who they can turn to and what can be done about the situation. Employers should have a clear policy for dealing with such issues, by way of their grievance and disciplinary procedures.

If you are facing problems at work, such as feeling unsupported by your line manager, or if you have been the victim of bullying and harassment by your colleagues, there are some simple steps you can take:
• If possible, you can try to talk to the people involved directly and informally about the problem
• Speak to your line manager, HR or another more senior member of staff you feel comfortable with, and who may be able to help
• Keep a record of relevant events, including dates, times and a description of what happened. Keep copies of any letters, memos, emails and notes of meetings
• Raise a formal grievance in accordance with your company’s grievance procedure.
A sworn translation is a certified official translation of any document. The sworn official translation holds the same validity held by the original document in the country in which it was issued.

Sworn Translators appointed by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation are the only translators who can produce official translations which will be recognised and accepted by any country.

The applicant must always check with the Spanish Consulate in London or the relevant authorities in Spain the documents to be submitted. The official translation into Spanish of the letter of employment in English must be submitted when applying for a Spanish Visa. They applicant also needs to submit the official translation into Spanish of the criminal record certificate in English. The criminal record certificate must be apostilled (legalised) by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK.
Facing redundancy can be a daunting and stressful prospect for employees. In order to assist you with the process and what to expect, here are the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions: In what situation might I be made redundant?

A genuine redundancy occurs in three situations:
• Where a business closes down completely
• Where the place of work closes down
• Where the employer requires fewer employees to carry out work of a particular kind.

How should my employer consult with me before making redundancies?

Your employer should consult with the workforce about the possibilities of redundancies as early as possible, depending on how many redundancies are proposed. In addition, employers should consult employees who are affected by any proposed redundancy individually. Consultation should involve your employer explaining how and why redundancies have arisen and looking at ways in which they can be avoided or minimised. Your employer should also consider any alternatives to redundancy, such as working reduced hours or taking a pay cut and whether there are any suitable alternative roles you could undertake instead. Throughout the consultation process, you should be given the opportunity to ask questions and make suggestions about how your redundancy might be avoided.

How will I be selected for redundancy?

Your employer must follow a fair and reasonable process in selecting people for redundancy. This includes using a fair and objective way of selecting who is going to be made redundant and explaining to employees what this is. Fair and objective selection criteria may include skills, qualifications, experience and disciplinary records. An employee cannot be selected for redundancy for a discriminatory reason (i.e. age, sex, religion, gender, race, disability, pregnancy) or automatically unfair reason (i.e. for a health and safety reason or reporting your employer for a criminal offence). You should be given the opportunity to comment on your individual results in any scoring exercise.

What if my employer offers me a different job as an alternative to redundancy?

If you are offered a ‘suitable alternative role’ you will need to think carefully before deciding whether to accept or reject a role. If you unreasonably reject a role which your employer considers to be a suitable alternative, you may lose your right to a redundancy payment. You have the right to a four-week trial period in any potential alternative role before you make a decision.

What payments am I entitled to upon redundancy?

You will be eligible for redundancy pay if you are an employee and you have worked continuously for your employer for at least two years. The factors used to determine how much redundancy pay you are entitled to include your age, your length of service and your earnings. Statutory redundancy pay is calculated as follows:
• Half a week’s pay for each year of employment up to the age of 22
• One week’s pay for each year of employment between the ages of 22 and 40
• One and a half week’s pay for each year of employment over the age of 41.

There is a cap of £15,750 on statutory redundancy pay regardless of your salary and length of service.

This is the minimum statutory redundancy pay you are entitled to. Your employer may offer a more generous scheme so make sure you check your contract of employment and company handbook. As well as redundancy pay, you are entitled to be paid your usual salary up until the termination date, notice pay and a payment for accrued but untaken holiday.

Might I have a redundancy claim against my employer?

If you are an employee with over two years’ service with your employer, you have significant employment protection. You may have a claim against your employer if there is not a genuine redundancy situation, if you have been unfairly selected for redundancy or if your employer has not followed a fair and reasonable process.
What is a Settlement Agreement?

A settlement agreement is a legally binding contract between an employer and employee to resolve a dispute or terminate the employment relationship.

Entering into a settlement agreement is a way of avoiding costly and lengthy litigation procedures by offering an employee an enhanced financial package in exchange for agreeing not to bring any claim against their employer. Employment Tribunal proceedings can be expensive, lengthy and incredibly stressful, and a settlement agreement is a way of reaching an agreement quickly and on mutually agreed terms.

When is a Settlement Agreement Used?

A settlement agreement is usually offered by an employer at the end of the employment relationship or to resolve a dispute. An employee can request a settlement agreement but in these circumstances an employer is not obliged to offer one. Settlement agreements are voluntary and parties do not have to agree to enter into them. There is often a period of negotiation before terms are agreed between the parties. They are typically used in the following circumstances:
• Redundancy situation
• Performance management
• Long-term sickness absence
• To settle a grievance

Settlement Payments and Terms

There is no set scale of payment and the amount of any settlement or compensatory payment will depend on the individual circumstances of each case, such as how long the employee has been employed, the circumstances leading to the agreement being offered and the potential liability and cost of taking the matter to an Employment Tribunal. Payments may also include a payment in lieu of notice and a payment for accrued but untaken holiday.Settlement agreements also typically include an agreed reference, a tax indemnity clause, a confidentiality clause, and a clause preventing the employee from making any derogatory comments about their employer.

Legal Requirements

For the settlement agreement to be valid and legally binding, it must meet a number of statutory requirements, as follows:
• It must be in writing
• It must relate to a particular complaint or proceedings
• It must be signed by both the employee and the employer
• The employee must have received independent legal advice
• The legal adviser must be identified and insured and must sign a certificate
• It must state that the applicable statutory regulatory conditions have been met

Employees should be given a reasonable amount of time to consider the proposed conditions of the agreement. The recommended period is 10 calendar days unless the parties agree otherwise. If an employer puts undue pressure on an employee to sign a settlement agreement, this may be seen as improper behaviour, which may invalidate the terms of the agreement.

An employee must seek legal advice before signing the agreement. The legal adviser has a duty to advise the employee of their legal rights, the terms and effect of the settlement agreement and any potential claims they could bring if they were not to sign the settlement agreement. An employer will usually make a contribution to the reasonable costs incurred by the employee in obtaining legal advice, although they are not obliged to do so.
Most employees are understandably nervous about giving their employers too much detail about their private lives and indeed it can often be a good thing not to blur the lines between your professional and personal life.

However it is also unrealistic to expect your personal and professional lives not to interact with one another or to impact on one another, in either a positive or negative way. Unfortunately in our private lives people will always experience challenges such as deaths of family and friends, ill health, marital difficulties, problems with errant children etc. and to expect the stress and strain of these life events not to impact on work is unrealistic and often performance can plummet.

Employers are, generally, very understanding of situations such as these. Naturally they want the job done and want you to do it properly, but managers, directors and owners also have the same issues as everyone else in their private lives and it is better therefore to let them know of these personal challenges before they morph into poor performance at work. They can then put in place mitigations or additional support to ensure that you and your team continue to achieve targets and maintain levels of performance.

You should therefore look to speak with your line manager, supervisor or HR about any issues which are occurring in your personal life and seek their support. Arrange with them a time to speak confidentially, possibly even away from the workplace to talk through the difficulties you are experiencing and to talk through what impact this is having or may have on your work and seek support to ensure that you can continue to deliver the businesses outcomes. That way you can hopefully avoid compounding your personal difficulties by facing difficulties at work.
Having a driving licence is an essential part of our leisure and work lives. Depending on your driver record you could end up in the position where you could lose your licence for six months (or in some cases longer). However the law allows for ‘normally law abiding citizens’ and recognises that it can exercise its discretion to keep you on the road and working to pay those taxes to keep the retired in the lifestyle to which they are accustomed.

A Magistrate’s Court (where all criminal matters are dealt with – from non payment of fines all the way up to murder) can be a daunting forum for the majority of drivers to navigate who have never been to court before.

We have the law’s practice and procedure at our fingertips so if you have any concerns (from the camera flash to the court summons) then please contact us.
Any employee who has over two years’ continuous service with the same employer has the right not to be unfairly dismissed.

In order to dismiss an employee fairly, the employer must overcome two hurdles.

Fair reason for dismissal

Firstly, the employer must show that the reason for the dismissal is one of the following ‘potentially fair’ reasons:
• The employee lacks the capability or qualification to carry out the work;
• The employee’s conduct, such as dishonesty or poor attendance;
• A genuine redundancy situation;
• Continued employment would contravene a statute, for example loss of a driving licence if the employee needs to drive as part of their job;
• Some other substantial reason ‘SOSR’; a dismissal which does not fall within any of the above reasons, such as a personality clash or non-renewal of a fixed term contract.

If the employer can show that the dismissal is for one or more of these reasons, the employment tribunal will then consider whether the decision to dismiss was fair looking at what is equitable and the merits of the case. The onus will be on the employer to show that they acted reasonably in treating that reason as a sufficient reason for dismissal.

If a tribunal believes that no reasonable employer would have dismissed the employee in the same circumstances, then the dismissal will be unfair. In making its decision, the tribunal will take into account the size and administrative resources of the employer.

Following the Correct Process

It is very important that employers follow a reasonable process if they are thinking of dismissing an employee. Even if there is a fair reason for dismissal, the dismissal will still be unfair if the employer has not followed a correct process. In a redundancy situation, the employer must follow a proper consultation and selection process. For dismissals based on misconduct or performance, the process is largely governed by the ACAS Code of Practice. The code provides that there should be sufficient investigations, evidence, warnings and the right to be accompanied at meetings. Although not legally binding, a failure to follow the Code can allow tribunals to increase any damages awarded by up to 25%.

Claim for Compensation

An employee can bring a claim for unfair dismissal in the employment tribunal within three months from the date of dismissal. This process starts by notifying the claim with ACAS under the early conciliation process. If the claim is not settled by way of early conciliation, the employee can submit the claim to the employment tribunal.

If successful, the employee will be awarded compensation, made up of the following:
• Basic award – a statutory award based on length of service, age and pay. The maximum basic award is £16,140.
• Compensatory award – losses which have arisen as a consequence of the unfair dismissal including loss of wages, loss of future wages and loss of statutory rights. The compensatory award is capped at a year’s salary or £88,519, whichever is the lowest.

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