Pinney Talfourd Solicitors
UPMINSTER 01708 229 444
BRENTWOOD 01277 211 755
HORNCHURCH 01708 511 000
LEIGH-ON-SEA 01702 418 433
CANARY WHARF 0203 105 0305

Employment Law for Individuals

Our Employment Law Department is recognised as one of the leading employment law firms in Essex by The Legal 500, an independent and definitive guide to the best law firms in the UK.

We advise on all aspects of employment law for individuals. You may be a senior executive looking to manage an exit take, the victim of discrimination at work or have been selected as a candidate for redundancy.

We are aware that life as an employee has become increasingly complicated.  Whether you find yourself in a dispute with your employer or need assistance to negotiate your employment terms or exit package, you should have professional advice that takes into account the sensitivity often required in employment situations whilst protecting your interests and rights.

We understand that you cannot always control when and how a dispute may arise. If a dispute is not handled effectively, the consequences can be considerable in terms of financial loss, time and stress.  Many cases that end up with lengthy and expensive disputes could have been resolved much earlier with the right legal advice and approach.  There are some instances where there is no alternative but to litigate.  If this is the case, we will vigorously pursue actions on our client’s behalf. 

We take a practical and authoritative approach to ensure we achieve the best results for our clients.  We provide a wide range of services including immediate telephone support for urgent workplace problems. Whilst we cannot provide specific advice on your matter before you become a client, we can give you an honest assessment of whether you would benefit from advice and discuss in general terms your options. Naturally, everything you tell us will be in complete confidence.

Early morning, late night and Saturday appointments are available to meet our clients' needs. All offices are open until 7pm Monday - Thursday.

FREE Initial Employment Telephone Consultations 

We understand that speaking to a solicitor for the first time about any issue relating to employment worries can be a difficult and rather stressful experience. Our expert employment solicitors in Essex and London will be happy to undertake an initial interview over the telephone to provide you with some general legal advice. This will enable you to determine what the best next steps are for you to take.

FREE initial telephone consultations are available at any of our offices located in Brentwood, Hornchurch or Upminster, or at our office facilities in Leigh-On-Sea and Canary Wharf, London. We understand that sometimes it is difficult to arrange calls during working hours, so we also offer early morning, late night and Saturday appointments. All offices are open until 7pm Monday-Thursday.

If you wish to book a free initial telephone consultation with one of our solicitors, please complete the form to the right – one of our team will be in touch with you shortly to discuss.

FIXED FEE appointments are also available with our employment solicitors.

▼ Notable individual employment cases include:

  • Acting for a Consultant paediatrician in a successful claim for age discrimination against Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust
  • A successful high profile whistleblowing case against an NHS Trust reported in The Independent and by the BBC
  • Acting for a bus driver in a successful claim for unfair dismissal against Arriva London North Limited
  • Acting for a senior lawyer in a claim for disability discrimination and unfair dismissal against a law firm
  • Advising a Director and Chief Operating Officer on the termination of employment and resulting settlement agreement, which exceeded a quarter of a million pounds
  • Acting for a Detective Sergeant in a successful claim that he was passed over for promotion on the grounds of his bringing previous race discrimination claims against the Metropolitan Police Service

What Legal 500 2017 says...

"Pinney Talfourd LLP fields a 'very practical, forward-thinking, responsible and reliable' employment practice that is noted for its 'professionalism in all areas.'"

Your key contact: Alex Pearce

▼ Employment - FAQS

Q. As a worker what are my statutory rights?

A. As a worker, you have various statutory rights including:
  • The right to the national minimum wage
  • Not to suffer detriment for exercising rights in respect of the national minimum wage
  • Protection against unlawful deduction from wages
  • Working Time Regulation provisions in relation to paid annual leave, rest breaks and maximum, working week
  • Not to suffer detriment for exercising rights in respect of the Working Time Regulations
  • Right not to suffer discrimination
  • Not to suffer less favourable treatment due to part time worker rights
  • Right to be accompanied at disciplinary or grievance hearings
  • Not to suffer a detriment for exercising the right to be accompanied at disciplinary hearing or grievance hearing
Q. Who is covered by the maximum working hours?

A. The Working Time Regulations 1998 apply to most workers with some exemptions.

Q. What is the difference between a worker and an employee?

A. An employee is a person employed under a contract of employment. A worker who is not an employee is said to be engaged under a contract of its own kind.

Q. What are the legal minimum periods of rest for an adult worker?

A. Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, adult workers have the right to:
  • a minimum rest break of 20 minutes in the course of any working day that exceeds six hours
  • a minimum daily rest period of at least 11 consecutive hours in each 24-hour period during which they work for the employer
  • and an uninterrupted weekly rest period of at least 24 hours
The rights to a minimum daily and weekly rest period do not apply in relation to shift workers when they change shift and cannot take a daily or weekly rest period between the end of one shift and the start of the next, or to workers engaged in activities involving periods of work split up over the day.

Q. How many days holiday am I entitled to a year?

A. A worker is entitled to 5.6 weeks annual leave in each year. No minimum period of continuous service is required to qualify. This entitlement is equivalent to 28 days leave for a classic 5 day full time working week arrangement.

Q. Who can request flexible working?

A. To be eligible the individual must:
  • be an employee;
  • have a child under the age of 17, or under 18 (if the child is disabled) or care for an adult;
  • have worked for the employer continuously for 26 weeks when the request is made;
  • have or to be expected to have responsibility for a child's upbringing and have a specified relationship to the child.
Q. How do I fund my legal fees?

A. For both contentious and not contentious work, we offer an initial fixed fee appointment to our clients.

After the initial appointment, a detailed estimate will be provided in most circumstances and for non-contentious work, such as drafting contract documents, policies, appeal letters or grievance letters we will give you a quote wherever possible. The firm's policy is to provide an open and transparent pricing of our work.

For contentious work, there are a number of ways in which your liability for legal fees and expenses may be met.
  • It is not uncommon for people to have legal expenses insurance either as an extension to a home contents policy, motor insurance policy or specialist legal expenses insurance. If you have insurance which might cover this legal work, your legal expenses insurers may agree to this firm being instructed on your behalf.
  • If you are a member of a trade union you may be entitled to free legal advice.
  • You will no doubt have heard of 'no win, no fee agreements'. The correct term for these agreements is 'Conditional Fee Agreements'. This firm may consider entering into such an arrangement depending on the case and the prospect of success.
Maternity

Q. What are my rights during maternity leave?

A. An individual is entitled to the benefit of all terms and conditions of employment which would have applied had she not been absent except for remuneration i.e. salary.

Q. What is the minimum provision for maternity leave?

A. Regardless of length of service, a pregnant employee is entitled to take 26 weeks' ordinary maternity leave followed immediately by 26 weeks' additional maternity leave.

Q. What happens to pension entitlement during maternity leave?

A. During periods of paid maternity leave, either ordinary or additional, an employer's pension contribution should be calculated as if the woman is working normally and receiving the usual remuneration.

During unpaid maternity leave, i.e. the last 13 weeks of additional maternity leave, the employer would not be under any duty to continue contributions unless otherwise provided in the contract.

Q. What is my right to return to the same job

A. An employee returning to work after ordinary maternity leave is entitled to return to the job previously held prior to maternity leave, on the same terms and conditions.

An employee returning to work after additional maternity leave is also entitled to return to the same job on the same terms and conditions as if she had not been absent unless a redundancy situation has arisen or if it is not reasonably practical for her employer to take her back in her original job.

Q. What happens if I am pregnant, and I am due to be made redundant?

A. It is automatically unfair to dismiss a woman (at any time) or to select her for redundancy when the reason (or principal reason) for the dismissal (or selection for redundancy) is connected to her pregnancy or statutory maternity leave.

It is also automatically unfair to dismiss her or select her for redundancy during maternity leave for a reason connected to the fact that she has given birth. A claim for pregnancy and maternity discrimination could also be pursued.

If a redundancy situation does arise during your maternity leave period, your employer must offer any available suitable alternative vacancy to you in preference to any other employee who is also potentially redundant but not on maternity leave.

Disability

Q. Are there certain conditions in which an individual is automatically deemed disabled under the Equality Act 2012?

A. Yes, deemed disabilities include:
  • Cancer
  • HIV infection
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Blindness, severe sight impairment, sight impairment and partial sightedness (provided this is certified by a consultant ophthalmologist) and severe disfigurements.
Discrimination

Q. Who is protected from discrimination?

A. Employees are protected, individuals who work under a contract of employment, a contract of apprenticeship or a contract to personally do the work.

Q. On what grounds can I be discriminated against?

A. The basis of a complaint of discrimination must be linked to certain defined characteristic which are: - Age - Disability - Gender reassignment - Marriage and civil partnership - Pregnancy and maternity - Race (which includes colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin) - Religion or belief - Sex - Sexual orientation

Q. Can direct discrimination be justified?

A. Direct discrimination cannot generally be justified. With regard to direct age discrimination this will only occur when an employer cannot objectively justify his actions.

Q. What is the time limit to bring a claim for unlawful discrimination?

A. The claim must be presented within three months of the act complained of or last in a series of continuing acts. The employment tribunal does have the power to extend this period if they consider it just and equitable to do so. To constitute a continual act, a link must be made between the acts by some discriminatory state of affairs being established.

Q. How long do I have to be employed to bring a discrimination claim?

A. There is no qualifying period for employees (including workers) making a claim of discrimination.

Q. What can the Employment Tribunal do if my discrimination complaint is successful?

A. The Employment Tribunal can:
  • make a declaration as to the rights of the complainant and the respondent in relation to the matter to which the proceedings relate.
  • order the respondent to pay compensation to the complainant and make an appropriate recommendation. A recommendation could include ensuring that a policy is more effectively implemented, staff retraining or introducing an equal opportunities policy for example.
Q. What award could the Employment Tribunal make for injury to feelings in a discrimination claim?

A. The Court of Appeal in Vento -v- Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police [2002] and Da' Bell -v- National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children set down the following guidance.
  • Below £600 - should be avoid altogether
  • £600 - £6,000 for less serious cases, such as isolated events or one off act
  • £6,000 - £18,000 for serious cases not meriting an award in the highest band
  • £18,000 - £30,000 for the most serious cases involving a lengthy campaign of discriminatory treatment or extremely serious one off incident
  • Awards of £30,000 should only be made in exceptional circumstances.
Dismissals and Disciplinary

Q. Who should deal with any grievance I raise in accordance with my employer's Grievance Procedure?

A. The person appointed to deal with a grievance should be objective and should not have been involved in the issues giving rise to the employee's complaint.

Q. Do I have the right to be accompanied to a grievance or disciplinary meeting?

A. Yes. Your statutory right is for either a Trade Union Representative or fellow colleague.

Q. What are the statutory periods of notice? (Different to contractual notice)

A. The statutory minimum notice to be given by an employee who has been continuously employed for one month or more to terminate his or her contract is not less than one week.

Where the employee has been employed for one month but less than two years, the statutory minimum to be provided by the employer is one week's notice.

After two years' service this rises to one week for each year of continuous service, although a maximum of 12 weeks' notice applies where the employee has been employed for 12 years or more.

Q. Does your employer have to give you written reasons for your dismissal?

A. All employees with at least one year's continuous service are entitled to written reasons for their dismissal on request. Otherwise the request should be made within three months of the effective date of termination, which is the time limit for bringing a claim for unfair dismissal to an employment tribunal.

For employees that commence employment on or after 6 April 2012, two years continuous service is required in order to request written reasons for their dismissal.

Q. If I am unfairly dismissed, what remedy can the Employment Tribunal award?

A. If the tribunal finds that the employee was unfairly dismissed, in can order compensation, reinstatement or re-engagement.

A compensation award will compromise a basic award and a compensatory award. The basic award is calculated in the same way as a statutory redundancy payment. The compensatory award is to compensate the employee for past and future financial losses arising as a result of the dismissal. An employee is under a duty to mitigate their losses.

Q. How much does it costs to issue an Employment Tribunal Claim?

A. Unlike the County Courts or High Court there are no costs for issuing a claim at an Office of the Employment Tribunal.

Redundancy

Q. How do I calculate my statutory redundancy award?


Q. How long do I have to be employed to be entitled to a statutory redundancy payment?

A. You have the right to a statutory redundancy payment if you are an employee who has worked continuously for your employer for at least two years and you are being made redundant.

Online Settlement Agreement Service

We offer an online Settlement Agreement Service which allows you to submit full details to ensure a speedy and detailed response from one of our specialist Employment Solicitors.

To complete the form please visit the Settlement Agreement Service page here.

Recent Claims

  • We have been instructed to advise on defending a potential claim for automatic unfair dismissal, whistleblowing, direct discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, harassment and victimisation.
  • We have acted for a Chief Operating Officer at a national newspaper regarding the termination of his employment and resulting settlement agreement.