The landscape of employment law is ever changing. We help clients to navigate this rapidly evolving area of law cost-effectively, providing accurate advice, support and guidance tailored to your specific needs.
Our employment lawyers work with both employers and employees to advise and resolve employment law issues.
People are a significant asset within any business and, like any asset, they need to be supported and managed effectively and efficiently. Our employment law solicitors work with employers like you, across a wide variety of industry sectors to help avoid and manage issues and protect and defend your business should the need arise.
Latest employment legislation
Employment law is an ever-changing field, and any breach, inadvertent or otherwise, can be draining on your business, both financially and operationally, given the management time often required to rectify these issues. The support and services we provide enable us to ensure that you are up to date with the latest legislation by reviewing or creating all of your essential staffing contracts, staff handbook, policies and procedures and providing tailored advice where it is needed.
With the law regularly updating, and new cases being decided daily, we produce a monthly e-bulletin which will keep you updated with any major changes or milestone decisions. You can sign up to receive our e-bulletin here.
Putting the human into Human Resources.
The greatest asset for any business is its people. People are also the most significant cost. Employees who are engaged and well-managed are more productive, resulting in increased profits and happier customers for your business.
Whether you're starting out or growing your business, it can be challenging to ensure you have all the compliance boxes ticked, particularly when it comes to recruiting, employing and managing your team. However, it is essential to get this right from the outset. Our HR support function means we can work across any organisation and help with the day to day management of its people, and the implementation of procedures and policies.
We will make sure you get up and running with the right support by reviewing or writing your contracts of employment, staff handbook and advise and guide you on recruitment, absence management and the day to day issues which are likely to arise. The support doesn’t stop with getting you set up, we can be on hand to assist with any other employment and HR issues which may arise along the way as your business continues to grow.
Getting to know you
You need a HR service which is as unique as you, your business and your employees. Our priority is understanding how your company operates. We take the time to get to know you and your business and to learn where you require support and guidance, which enables us to provide you with specific, tailored HR support, completely unique to your situation.
We know the needs of your business will change over time, and we can change with you. Our flexible approach means we can offer retained HR services, onsite support or ad-hoc telephone and email advice whenever it’s required.
Working with in-house HR
Our team also work closely with internal HR teams to help share some of the workload and provide additional support which complements the knowledge and skills of the in-house team.
We can help with a range of activities including, the design and implementation of HR projects, restructuring of teams, TUPE-related due diligence, independent advice on sensitive issues and investigations, conducting disciplinary and grievance meetings and offering advice on day to day employment law issues.
Fixed fee employment law (YEAR)
Whatever the size of your organisation, dealing with HR and employment law issues can be complicated and time-consuming. Our highly regarded employment team regularly advise employers of all sizes and from a wide variety of sectors on all aspects of employment law. Through our fixed fee employment law retainer service "YEAR", we can provide clients with a cost-effective solution to all of their employment law matters.
We understand how important your business is to you and more importantly, how valuable your time is. By allocating you a primary adviser and a secondary adviser, we get to know your business and the way you operate. By having two advisers allocated specifically to your business, there will always be someone available to speak with you, who knows how your business operates and can address your queries. This means no call centres, no repetitive explanations and speedy, tailored responses.
Fixed fee employment law and support packages
We offer an annual retainer service called “Your Annual Employment Retainer”(“YEAR”).Through the provision of the YEAR service we offer businesses peace of mind. YEAR provides our employment law advice, combined with our HR consultancy, rolled into one complete end to end package.
YEAR membership includes:
- An audit of your HR policies, documents and procedures;
- A staff handbook and employment contracts updating service (if required);
- Employment Law advice by telephone and email;
- Bespoke letters;
- Access to regular seminars and workshops; and
Optional legal expenses insurance is available.
YEAR is a flexible service, which has been designed to revolve around your business needs. We appreciate that you maynot require our services every day or you may not require any advice for weeks at a time, however, when you do need us we are on hand, and your bill is fixed and invoiced on the same day every month … so, no nasty surprises.
In addition to YEAR, we also offer a service called YEAR PLUS. Upgrading to YEAR PLUS will mean that a member of our legal or HR Consultancy team, we will visit you at your premises to offer face-to-face support. Visits can include providing on-site training, face-to-face advice, chairing hearings and much more.
Please see our fixed fee employment law page for more details.
As part of our 'YEAR' package, we host workshops and seminars keeping you up to date with the latest changes in legislation or offering advice on both employment law and HR issues encountered by our clients.
Our most popular training packages are:
- An Introduction to employment law for line managers;
- Managing stress in the workplace;
- Managing absence: holidays, family friendly leave and long-term sickness; and
- Conducting effective disciplinary investigations and hearings.
Training is designed by experienced employment law solicitors, and supported by our HR professionals.
We can also design tailored made workshops, seminars and training programmes to help clients with specific issues within their business, which can be delivered in house to HR and senior management teams or on a one to one basis.
Our training programmes can cover any HR or employment law topic, and we are happy to speak with you about any training needs. Previous courses have included:
- HR skills for business;
- Effective mentoring in the workplace;
- Conducting successful employee reviews;
- Recruitment, interviewing and selection;
- Employment law for HR professionals;
- Employment law for business owners;
- Absence management, bullying and discrimination;
- Conducting a grievance investigation; and
- Performance management and dismissals.
Performance can be one of the most challenging aspects of managing people, and it shouldn't just be left until the annual employee review. The challenges you face when you're dealing with an individual’s performance or ill-health can put a strain on your business, so it is crucial to have plans in place from the outset.
Performance and capability policies are designed to improve the standard of performance and ensure that standards are consistent across your business. These policies can be a great tool in your armoury when dealing with performance issues as they offer a benchmark to work to.
Performance issues due to sickness or short-term absences can be far trickier to deal with. It's advisable to have a clear absence management policy, which is applied across your business and is accessible to all employees.
Conflicts in the workplace will happen. Employees will encounter problems, concerns and issues that they feel need resolving. Some of these can be resolved informally, and if necessary by following a grievance policy that has been designed specifically for your business. However, if things escalate, it's important to seek an early resolution to try and avoid any disruption to your business, and the costs and stress of having to involve the Employment Tribunal.
The ACAS Code of Practice sets out the requirements for dealing with grievances. All employers are required to act fairly and in a reasonable manner when dealing with grievance issues.
By having a clearly defined grievance procedure, it will be clear to all employees the process you will go through to address their concerns. As with all policies, your grievance policy and procedure should be reviewed periodically to ensure that they remain compliant,are updated in line with any changes made to employment law and continue to suit the needs of your business.
Our advice on managing grievances is tailored to you and is specifically designed to achieve a resolution quickly to minimise the time and risks to you and your business. We can provide you with an external HR Consultant to assist with these processes and chair and necessary grievance meetings if required, we are also happy to provide your management team with tailored training on how to manage grievances.
Restructuring and redundancy
Businesses restructure for many reasons, to downsize, to cut costs or to concentrate on other product lines and markets. In many cases, this involves making some employees’ roles redundant to avoid the business going into administration.
It is essential as an employer to ensure this process is carried out fairly and legally. For example, if you're making up to 99 employees redundant, you need to start the consultation process at least 30 days before the first redundancy takes place. For over 100 employees, this changes to 45 days.
You should always seek legal advice on this process, including the option to request voluntary redundancy and to understand whether TUPE applies. Seeking advice will ensure that the risk of any employment tribunal claims is minimised. If you require any advice in relation to proposed redundancies then please do not hesitate to contact any of the members of our employment team who would be happy to discuss this with you.
TUPE (“Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006”)can be a complex area of employment law, and one that most employers overlook. However, it is crucial that employers are aware of their obligation and liabilities under this complex, but frequently engaged piece of legislation.
There are several scenarios where TUPE applies, for example, when a business or part of it, is sold to a new employer. TUPE is designed to protect the original rights and terms and conditions of the employees before and after the sale.
Our employment team specialise in TUPE work, supporting the TUPE aspects of the transactional work undertaken by the commercial, corporate and social housing teams. We have advised both purchasers and vendors in company acquisitions, sales and outsourcing transactions and the team is particularly experienced in advising registered providers on the TUPE implications of LSVTs.
Defending employment tribunal claims is a stressful and time-consuming period. The employment team is experienced in dealing with any employment disputes and are able to guide you through the tribunal process from start to finish, gather evidence, and provide you with practical steps on how to progress matters.
The most frequent disputes in an employment scenario are unfair dismissal and constructive dismissal, redundancy, discrimination and bullying.
Before submitting a claim, all employees have to follow the ACAS Early Conciliation (“EC”)process. This gives both you and your employee a chance to resolve the dispute without the need to go to the employment tribunal.The employment team has a wealth of experience in handling the ACAS EC process, and would be happy to provide you with any assistance you may require.
If the ACAS EC process is unsuccessful, and the employee does proceed with a claim, it is advised that you seek legal advice quickly. You have to respond to the employee’s claim within 28 days and it is vital that you do not miss this deadline and that the defence you submit is fit for purpose.
We can assist you in responding to the claim by assisting you to complete the ET3 response form including the specific particulars of your defence, ensuring all the details and facts are captured. We can also assist in gathering and preparing witness statements and evidence to support your defence.
We assist a wide variety of client’s, ranging from SMEs and start-ups through to global organisations and public sector bodies. In the event that an employee does submit a claim against your business, we are well placed to guide, advise and assist you seamlessly through the tribunal process.
We have defended a wide range of cases on behalf of both corporates and senior directors involving an extensive range of issues such as whistleblowing, unfair dismissal, discrimination on the grounds of religious belief, age, race, sex and disability as well as TUPE dismissals.
Disciplinary issues involving employees are never something that should be taken lightly. ACAS set out clear guidance on following a reasonable procedure when considering disciplining an employee.
It’s wise to have a disciplinary policy and procedure in place as part of your overall people management toolkit. Your policy should set out the exact steps to be followed should a disciplinary situation arise.
However, with or without a policy, you still have to abide by the four-stage process so that, no matter what the outcome, you can demonstrate you have followed a fair procedure. This process includes; conducting an investigation, informing the employee of the allegations against them, having a formal meeting with them to allow them to respond, and giving them the right to appeal against any outcome.
It is essential to deal with cases requiring disciplinary action as soon as they arise to avoid the situation spiralling and to protect your business, it is also part of a fair procedure to deal with issues promptly. Knowing the right steps to take can save you time, and mean you avoid a claim being brought against your business.If you require advice or support in respect of a potential disciplinary issue, the employment law team is on hand to help and guide you through the process.
A settlement agreement is used to bring a contract of employment to an end without the risk of the employee bringing a claim in the employment tribunal against you; you offer them a “sweetener” in the form of compensation and they agree not to pursue the business in respect of any potential claims they may have. Settlement agreements are usually comprehensive, well-drafted documents that list out all the possible claims to indemnify the business against them.
Our employment law solicitors can work with you to negotiate the terms of the settlement agreement, the amount offered as part of the agreement and ensure details such as post-termination restrictions are covered to protect you from ex-employees taking current and future business or key personnel from you. If you are considering offering an employee a settlement agreement our employment law solicitors can guide you through the process and can draft the agreements for you to issue.
- Advising a client in an EU Procurement situation regarding issues in relation to the staff potentially transferring from one contractor to another;
- Successfully defended a whistleblowing claim brought against our client by an Employee alleging financial irregularity;
- Advising a financial services company on TUPE-related matters relating to the provision of outsourced services including advice on amending and negotiating the services agreement;
- Successfully defended a client facing an unfair dismissal claim from one of its employees who, having been made redundant, contended that there was not a genuine redundancy situation and that it was procedurally unfair;
- Advising on the harmonisation of contracts following TUPE, including full consultation, notification, and negotiation of changes to employment contracts which involved both unionised and non-unionised members of staff;
- Successfully defended a disability discrimination, unfair dismissal and breach of contract claim made by an employee who was injured at work. This involved a six-day hearing with eight witnesses. The case went to appeal which we, again, successfully defended; and
- Advising a large corporate on a complex claim, which includes TUPE-related issues, brought by senior personnel relating to a company acquisition.
Quality assured: Wright Hassall is Lexcel accredited, the Law Society’s legal practice quality mark for practice management and client care.
The cost of running a tribunal depends on the complexity of the case: *complex cases involving multiple witnesses and extended documentation will, inevitably, cost more than straightforward cases where the employer has followed a fair process (based on the Acas Code of Practice) and has a genuine reason for dismissing the employee. Conversely, where it is clear that an employee has been unfairly dismissed because the employer did not follow fair process, this would also be considered straightforward.
Representing an employer:
An employer defending a claim from an employee for unfair dismissal or discrimination will have to invest more time and money than the employee, even if the case is straightforward. This is because more people are involved (in the investigation and hearing stages) and an employer will have more contractual documentation to be reviewed. Employers also need to remember when defending a discrimination claim that, if the tribunal finds against them, compensation payments are uncapped.
Representing an employee:
An employee bringing a case for unfair dismissal or discrimination is likely to have less contractual paperwork to sift through and there are usually fewer witnesses involved (for instance those carrying out the investigation will appear on behalf of the employer, not the employee). Therefore the overall cost may be lower than that for an employer; nonetheless the complexity of the issues involved will determine the final cost.
The prices outlined below are indicative only and based on a tribunal case being run with a combination of junior and senior lawyers whose time will be apportioned depending on the complexity of the case.
Indicative fee scale
|NB: the costs outlined below are based on the complexity of a case and apply to both employees and employers.|
|Average range of prices (including VAT)|
|Medium complexity case||£8,400||£12,000|
|High complexity case||£12,000||£24,000|
|The above prices do not take into account any costs payable to a third party, such as the use of a barrister.|
|Face to face review meeting||Price (including VAT)|
|Initial meeting to discuss the scope of claim, including review of documents prior to the meeting.||£425|
You can find out more about the status of your claim, and what constitutes fair process, by checking the Acas Code of Practice on the Acas website. (http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=2174)
The complexity of a case depends:
- on the number of witnesses and documents involved;
- issues around a claimant’s disability;
- allegations of discrimination;
- whether the case is constructive unfair dismissal or unfair dismissal;
- claims linked to whistle-blowing; unlawful deduction of wages, and wrongful dismissal;
- whether an application has to be amended or additional information about an existing claim is required; and
- making or defending a costs application.