We can advise you in relation to:
- Staff Problems: underperformance, absence, misconduct, grievances and whistleblowing
- Paperwork: contracts, policies and procedures for employees, directors and freelance contractors
- Redundancy, restructuring and TUPE
- Maternity, paternity and other family related rights
- Employee competition
- Defending Employment Tribunal claims
- Drafting and negotiating Settlement Agreements
We will always look at your issue on its merits and consider how the problem is affecting your relationship with your employees and their relationship with other employees. We will always try to deal with matters in a commercial manner and to avoid litigation where possible but do not advise defensively so as to handcuff your organisation: if a commercially sound solution incorporates some risk, we will advise you of the benefits and potential pitfalls before agreeing a way forward. We offer advice both on an ad hoc and retainer basis, and where appropriate can agree fixed fees so you can be certain about your legal spend.
Staff Problems: underperformance, absence, misconduct, grievances and whistleblowing
Issues such as this are disruptive to the business and, mishandled, can lead to Tribunal claims for Unfair Dismissal, Constructive Dismissal, Discrimination and under legislation protecting whistleblowers. Ignored, underperformance, absence and misconduct is bad for business and affects staff morale. Lengthy suspensions waste salary costs and leave organisations vulnerable to allegations of unnecessary delay. Grievances and whistleblowing should be investigated swiftly and effectively to best protect the organisation.
As well as drafting effective procedures for you to follow in such situations, we can advise from the sidelines or even manage the process of performance or absence management, disciplinary procedures or investigating grievances and whistleblowing, allowing you to get on with your day to day business. We will help you follow a fair procedure, gather and assess evidence and reach a conclusion that is right for your organisation. Where appropriate, we can help you with negotiating solutions that benefit both parties.
Our advice to you as Solicitors is privileged from disclosure if there were to be any litigation as a result of the process. This does not apply to Employment Consultancies or other advisors.
Paperwork: contracts, policies and procedures for employees, directors and freelance contractors
Nobody likes paperwork but well drafted contracts, policies and procedures not only come into their own in the event of a dispute but can help to define a working relationship. We don’t just provide off the shelf template documents but ask you the questions you need to think about in deciding how you will work. Our documents are bespoke, designed to meet the needs of you and your business.
Restrictions on competition need to be carefully considered to ensure that they are both enforceable and work for you: we will get to know you, your business and the role to ensure that you are best protected.
Where directors are also shareholders, we can draft both directors’ service contracts and shareholders’ agreements to guarantee that they are seamless and work together.
A contract is your opportunity to be clear about matters such as use of social media, working elsewhere and confidentiality during and after the working relationship. Handbooks can include policies on issues such as Equal Opportunities, Bullying and Harassment and Whistleblowing as well as more practical matters such as internet and telephone use. Formal procedures on Disciplinary, Performance and Absence Management, Redundancy and Grievances help with compliance but also empower managers to tackle problems head on.
Redundancy, restructuring and TUPE
Any form of organisational restructure has the potential to expose it to Tribunal claims. We can work with you at an early stage to minimise that risk, by ensuring that you take the necessary steps to protect the business. This can help drive decision making rather than hold you back. If restructuring involves changing employees’ contracts, we will guide you through the process of doing so lawfully. If it involves redundancy, we will help you define pools, identify selection criteria and assist with consultation. Where restructuring leads to disputes with employees, we can advise on the merits of defending or settling those disputes.
TUPE applies as a matter of law to transactions as wide ranging as business sales, franchising, commercial leases and outsourcing. Despite efforts to simplify it, TUPE is complex. We can advise on the risk of TUPE applying to your transaction so you can make an informed choice with regard to its value and how you will proceed. If TUPE is adopted, we can carry out due diligence on Employee Liability Information so that you know what will be inherited. We can also help where TUPE is asserted by the employees post transaction, advising on the merits of defending or settling anticipated claims.
Maternity, paternity and other family related rights
Legislation dealing with working parents and carers is complex and ever changing, as evidenced by the recently introduced Shared Parental Leave. Rights range from time off for ante natal appointments to various forms of paid and unpaid parental leave, flexible working and time off in emergencies. We can draft policies and procedures to guide your managers and employees or provide ad hoc advice dealing with specific situations. If employees bring grievances or claims arising out of family friendly working rights, we have a wealth of experience in the field.
We can help with prevention as well as cure. Well drafted, bespoke restrictions tailored to your business provide a disincentive to employee competition. Before drafting any restrictions, we will get to know you, your business and the role to ensure that you are best protected. Our advice to you on this is privileged from disclosure; so if you opt for a restriction we think might be difficult to enforce, your employee cannot demand to see that advice if you end up in litigation. This does not apply to Employment Consultancies or other advisors.
Where employees do attempt to compete in breach of their obligations, we can advise on the prospects and potential pitfalls involved in seeking to enforce restrictive covenants or obtain springboard injunctions preventing use of confidential information.
Defending Employment Tribunal claims
Our significant experience of dealing with Employment Tribunal claims on behalf of both employees and employers involves almost all aspects of Employment Law, including Unfair Dismissal, Constructive Dismissal, Discrimination and Harassment, Whistleblowing, TUPE, Redundancy, Breach of Contract, Holiday Pay and Deductions from Wages. We have represented clients in the Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal as well as at first instance.
Our Tribunal advocacy experience leaves us well placed to give clients early advice as to the prospects of success at Tribunal and the merits or otherwise of settlement as well as being able to ensure that cases are properly prepared in a way to best present the evidence to the Tribunal Judge. Our advice is commercial and practical but where litigation is necessary, we will guide you and support you throughout the process.
Drafting and negotiating Settlement Agreements
Settlement Agreements (formerly known as Compromise Agreements) prevent employees bringing Employment Tribunal claims, usually in return for a compensation payment. They can also regulate other aspects of the post-employment relationship, such as provision of references and dealing with confidentiality and other restrictions. They can be used in matters as simple as voluntary redundancy or more complex situations following grievance or disciplinary procedures.
To be effective, employees signing Settlement Agreements must take independent legal advice. It is therefore cost effective to obtain bespoke advice on your particular situation to ensure that both the deal and Agreement terms are likely to be accepted by a well advised employee.
We can help with the negotiation of the deal, drafting an agreement and queries in respect of any terms.