There are a number of organisations that can help with employment advice.
There are several sources of employment law advice in the UK, some of which offer free advice, some of which charge fees. People normally think of solicitors as a likely source of employment law advice. Other providers such as Acas, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau or local law centres may also be able to help with your query.
Who provide free and impartial advice to employees?
Acas, the Advice, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, provides free impartial advice on employment relations queries to employers and employees. Acas also helps parties try to conciliate disputes, before or during Employment Tribunal proceedings. However, Acas can’t represent you in a dispute.
Either way, instructing a solicitor will usually cost you their fees, unless the solicitor operates on a “no win no fee” basis. But the benefit of using a solicitor is that you can rely on their advice and be reassured that they’ve taken the time to find out everything they need to know about your case, so that they can give you advice that is tailored to your particular situation and aims.
Does it cost money to go to an Employment Tribunal?
There are no tribunal fees to bring or defend a claim in the Employment Tribunal. You can represent yourself in the Employment Tribunal – whether you’re an employee or employer – so you don’t need to use a solicitor.
However, it takes many months and sometimes over a year to get from filing a claim to a final hearing in the Employment Tribunal. There is a lot of procedure to get to grips with, and steps that you’ll have to take to prepare the case for the hearing. If you don’t comply with the rules and do everything you’re obliged to do, it can lead to sanctions and ultimately to your claim or defence being struck out – in other words, you lose the right to have your claim heard, or to defend it.
There are organisations that offer free support and guidance on how to manage your Employment Tribunal claim, like Pregnant Then Screwed.
That said, it can be a relief, in our experience, to hand over conduct of your claim or defence to a specialist employment solicitor.
Your employment solicitor can help negotiate a better settlement agreement.
Who to speak to about work issues?
Again, Acas, the CAB, law centres or solicitors can all help you with work issues. It’s best to get advice on a situation before it turns into a claim.
Organisations like Acas may be able to help you to get a settlement deal, or to go through mediation to restore relations.
Employment solicitors have a wealth of experience in negotiating settlement deals, whether or not the deal involves the employee leaving their job. Employment solicitors, in our experience, are adept at finding enough common ground to enable a deal to be done that enables both parties to be able to move forward.
If a deal involves a settlement agreement – which they usually will, even if the employee isn’t leaving – then the employee must get legal advice from a solicitor before signing the settlement agreement. It’s usual for employers to pay the employee’s fees for that advice.
What do employment lawyers do?
Employment lawyers work with clients, who may be employers or employees, and help them with any number of employment and workplace related issues.
For instance, here at Qlaw, we often represent employees who are being mistreated while pregnant or on maternity leave, helping them to resolve their situation. We also advise employees who are being made redundant, or who want to leave their job to join a competitor. We also advise employers on all sorts of employment related matters, from drafting contracts and handbooks, to dealing with performance management or disciplinary matters, or TUPE.
Get in touch! We’ll arrange an exploratory chat with you to find out more about you, your situation and your aims, and talk you through how we can help you get to where you want to be.