Employment FAQs

EMPLOYERS

Do I need to give my employees contracts?

If an employee has been working for you for at least one month then, you must provide them with written details of their main terms and conditions of employment within two months of the date they first started work. This means things like their start date, the job they do, their place of work, their hours of work, details of their pay and holiday entitlement. At Kenneth Bush we have extensive experience in drawing up contractual documentation whether for junior members of staff or senior directors. Our aim is to protect you not only during an employee’s employment but also after they have left you (for example to stop former employees poaching your clients). For more information what documentation you need please contact our employment department.

One of my employees has raised a grievance – what do I do?

If you cannot resolve the grievance informally then, you will almost certainly need to go through a formal grievance procedure. It is essential that you have in place a well-drawn grievance procedure which protects you should things go wrong and you end up facing a tribunal claim. For more information and advice about grievances, disciplinary issues and other problems in the workplace please contact our employment department. If there is a particular issue then, we will work with you to try and resolve it.

I have received a claim for unfair dismissal from a former employee – what should I do?

If you have received a claim then, a tribunal will give you the date on which your defence (known as a response) must be received by them. If you do not send the response in time or, it is rejected by the tribunal because it does not contain the necessary information then, you could find yourself being unable to defend the proceedings and a judgment being entered against you. It is therefore essential that if you do receive a claim form that you take legal advice as soon as possible. Please contact our employment team who will be able to give you the specialist advice and guidance necessary to deal with tribunal claims.

A former employee has asked me for a reference – do I have to give them one?

Unless you have agreed otherwise there is no obligation on you to provide a reference for a current employee or a former employee. If however you do provide a reference then, it must be fair, truthful and accurate. The duty to be fair, truthful and accurate is owed not only to the person who has asked for the reference but also the person about whom it has been written. Because of these risks it is becoming increasingly commonplace for those employers who do decide to provide references to only provide brief, factual ones e.g. confirming a former employee’s dates of employment and the job they did. For more information and advice on this area please contact our employment department and we would be more than happy to deal with any questions you have.

EMPLOYEES

Am I entitled to a contract of employment?

Provided you have been working for your employer for at least one month you are entitled to written details of your main terms and conditions of employment – this means things like your start date, job title, place of work, hours of work, details of pay and holiday entitlement. This information must be provided to you within two months of the date you started work. For more information on contracts of employment please contact our employment department.

How long do I have to be employed before I can make a claim for unfair dismissal?

To claim unfair dismissal you must have worked for your employer for at least two years if you started your employment with them on or after the 6th April 2012 unless certain exceptional grounds apply. For more information on unfair dismissal claims please contact our employment department.

How long do I have to bring a claim for unfair dismissal?

Any claim for unfair dismissal must be submitted to the Employment Tribunal within three calendar months (less one day) of the date of termination of your employment. Before however you can bring a claim for unfair dismissal it is compulsory to use the ACAS early conciliation service. This service is free of charge. The deadline for applying to the tribunal is extended by the amount of time you spend in conciliation. Details of the ACAS conciliation scheme can be found on the ACAS website. For more information about time limits please contact our employment department.

Do I have to pay anything to bring a claim in an employment tribunal?

No – until recently you would have had to pay a fee unless you qualified for an exemption because of your income. That is no longer the case.

I have been made redundant – am I entitled to a redundancy payment?

As a general rule every employee who has been dismissed by reason of redundancy will be entitled to a statutory redundancy payment if they have been working for their employer for at least two years. An individual’s statutory redundancy payment is calculated by reference to their age, length of service (subject to a maximum of 20 years) and salary (again this is subject to a maximum amount). You can calculate your statutory redundancy entitlement by logging on to www.gov.uk/calculate-your-redundancy-pay. For more information on redundancy and redundancy payments please contact our employment department.

My employer has asked me to enter into a settlement agreement – what is it?

A settlement agreement is a legally binding agreement designed to enable an employer and employee to settle any claims that the employee may have against the employer arising from their employment such as unfair dismissal or discrimination. Certain conditions must be met for there to be a legally enforceable settlement agreement. For example the employee must take advice from what is known as an insured independent adviser such as a solicitor about the agreement and the claims they are giving up. Having a settlement agreement is more to an employers than the employees benefit because it stops the employee bringing claims in the future and accordingly it is normal for the employer to meet (or at least contribute a fixed amount to) the costs of the employees legal fees. If you have been given a settlement agreement please contact our employment department and we will be happy to advise you on it.