Employment Law Solicitors
Our experienced team of employment lawyers aim to keep costs at a minimum and make dealing with issues – both contentious and non-contentious – as hassle-free as possible.
Our tailored employment law services meet your individual requirements as we know that every employment tribunal is different to another.
Employment law is constantly evolving, therefore, you need to work with the right employment solicitors. Prosperity Law will provide you with accurate guidance on current employment laws and regulations and how they apply to both you and your business. We work with both employees and employers to provide clear legal advice, whatever their requirements.
Expert Employment Solicitors & Contract Lawyers
Your Employment Law Solicitor will provide expert legal advice and will keep you updated through every stage and step of your case.
If you have had a disagreement in the workplace or you have suffered an unfair dismissal, then our employment lawyers can assist. Difficulties in the workplace can leave you feeling stressed but our expert employment lawyers thrive to reach a positive conclusion in your case as quickly and efficiently as possible.
With a reputation for being highly commercial, we aim to not only advise on the employment and contract law, but the wider business impact and commercial implications.
Our Manchester employment solicitors offer legal advice and services on all aspects of employment law for employees and employers, including:
- Employment Tribunal representation
- Unfair and wrongful dismissal
- Compromise Agreements
- In-house training and advice
- Service Agreements
- General employment advice
Creating an Employment Contract
One of the first vital actions an employer must undertake when taking on new workers is to issue them with an employment contract. This contract must be read and understood in full by each employee, and signed copies must be retained by both the employer and the recipient to prove this. So, what exactly constitutes an employment contract? Read on to discover all about these essential documents.
What Should an Employment Contract Contain?
An employment contract is an agreement that specifies certain information surrounding a particular job or position. It serves as a legally binding document, so it is extremely important that all aspects of its contents are detailed and include comprehensive guides to:
- The employee’s rights, responsibilities and duties
- The employer’s rights, responsibilities and duties
- Workplace benefits
- Payment information surrounding wages or salary
- Specific employment conditions
- Information covering the notice period required should an employee wish to book leave or resign their position (this often constitutes a set number of weeks, but could also be “at will”, meaning there is no particular notice period legally required.)
The above is known as the terms of the contract, and these terms usually last until said contract is terminated, either by the employee being dismissed or handing in their notice. Another situation in which an employment contract can be terminated is if it is to be replaced by a new or amended version. There is also such a thing as an “implied” contract, which forms a legal substitute for an employment contract that is assumed to have been drawn without there being any written or verbal agreement.
A contract of employment is not to be confused with a “contract to provide services”, which is an agreement created between business owners or managers and temporary, usually self-employed workers or contractors who are not being taken on as employees. These agreements don’t tend to feature information surrounding notice periods, and they are usually set to terminate when the relevant work is complete. Service providers bound by these contracts rarely receive the likes of training, time off and holiday pay, sick leave and maternity leave, company health insurance or a company pension as part of their contract. They are also usually responsible for their own tax and insurance, while employees are not.
What Is Breach of Contract?
A contract can be breached by either the employer or the employee. If one party fails to properly adhere to the terms set out in the employment contract, it is possible – and recommended – for the matter to be settled informally within the workplace; however, it can feasibly end up being taken to civil court or to an Industrial Tribunal to allow the wronged party to sue for damages. An employee can only take their case to an Industrial Tribunal if they no longer work for their employer, but it is possible for them to go to a small claims court while they are still employed. An Industrial Tribunal cannot award more than £25,000 in damages per case, and it is not possible to claim this amount and then take the case to the small claims track of a civil court for more. In a small claims court, one may be charged fees of up to £10,000, but it is possible to claim any amount. If the case is taken to an Industrial Tribunal, on the other hand, there are no fees and the process is often quicker. However, it is not possible to claim for personal injury and there is a three month time limit to make the claim.
Employers can only sue by going to a County Court over any action made by their employee that breaches their contract of employment. The only time an employer would apply to an Industrial Tribunal would be in response to a claim made by an employee. Employers can only claim damages for financial loss, such as being forced to hire extra staff to cover work their employee has not completed due to a failure to work their notice, for example.
Breach of Contract Employment Advice
Employers must always be wary when it comes to any disciplinary action they undertake towards their employees. If, for example, there is nothing written in the employment contract that stipulates that the employer may review wages as a form of discipline for lateness or loss or damage of property or products, then the employer has no right to do so and the employee is within their rights to demand pay as detailed in their contract, or to take their employer to court for breach of contract.
Employee Breach of Contract and Unfair Dismissal
There are a number of ways in which an employee may be found in breach of contract. Workers must take care when it comes to matters such as taking on extra employment with competitors or working the correct amount of notice when leaving their position. There are regularly terms within an employment contract that specify exactly what is or is not permitted in these circumstances, and, if these terms are not adhered to, the employee will be liable for a breach of contract subpoena.
Of course, the matter of agreed notice isn’t the only contractual issue surrounding the termination of employment. Employees may also be dismissed by management. If their employer finds their work, performance or behaviour to be sub-par, they may wish to remove the employee from their position. However, it is important for both employers and employees to take note of the circumstances in which this happens, as, depending on the process, the employee may find that they have a case for unfair or constructive dismissal.
Unfair dismissal can be claimed if the employer does not appear to have a good or clear reason to fire their employee. Fair reasons for dismissal could include:
- An inability or refusal to keep up with functional, technological or personnel-based changes in the workplace.
- A consistent inability to work sensibly, respectfully or civilly with other employees.
- A long-term or recurring illness that makes it impossible for an employee to perform their duties (the employer must first have ensured that proper help has been offered and that the employee has been given suitable recovery time before dismissing them). Of course, employers are required by law to support employees who are registered disabled, and cannot dismiss them purely on the basis of their disability.
- The employee has been selected for unavoidable redundancy.
- The employee is to be sent to prison.
- There is no possibility of continuing the employment – i.e. if the premises are destroyed and there is nowhere to work.
- There is a “statutory restriction” – i.e. if a job requires an employee to drive, but they lose their driving license.
- “Gross misconduct” – i.e. if an employee makes violent threats or behaves violently towards others in the workplace or purposefully destroys property. In this case, an employer is not bound by law to follow the disciplinary procedures laid out in full, though they are still required to fully investigate the circumstances.
If the reasons for dismissal given do not fall under any of the categories above, then the employee may have a case for unfair dismissal.
Constructive dismissal can also lead to an employer being taken to court. An employer may be considered guilty of constructive dismissal if they have made it impossible, or extremely difficult, for an employee to continue to do their job in order to force them to resign. Actions that constitute constructive dismissal may include the docking or reducing of hours or pay, forcing an employee to adapt to changes that breach their original employment agreement – such as assigning them antisocial hours that were not stipulated in their contract or moving their role to a branch that is difficult for them to access – or allowing other employees to harass them or treat them poorly. Under such circumstances as these, an employee can take their employer to court for constructive dismissal.
Whether you are an employer or an employee within a business, it is vital that you understand the law surrounding the employment contracts that affect you and your company. For further information on employment law, visit www.prosperitylaw.com/services/employment. You can also call 0161 667 3697 to discuss your individual case further with experts.
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