Employee rights, do you have a case against your employer?
Cute piggybank image to reflect Employment law

I think I have an employment case

How do I find out if I have a case against my employer and what are my employee rights?

Employment

What do I need to know before instructing a solicitor?

Employment cases can be very different and varied.  They can be claims, for example, for unfair dismissal, redundancy, unpaid wages, and breach of contract.  Most are dealt with in the Employment Tribunal but some are dealt with in the County or High court.  Some employment claims have very short and strict time limits, such as 3 months.  That means that you will have had to issue your employment claim in the Tribunal within just 3 months of the events that you complain of.  In that time you or you solicitor will need to prepare you case.  So it is vital that you do not delay in seeking legal advice.

If you have evidence such as documents, letters or, e-mails have them ready for the solicitor to consider with you.

Funding

Legal Aid is available in certain cases and is determined firstly by the type of legal case it is and also your financial circumstances. To access legal aid, you will need to show that you meet a means test, that your case is strong enough and that your case is covered by legal aid.  Most solicitors are not now able to offer Legal Aid for employment matters.

If you have a household insurance (Home or Contents), check that for legal expense insurance because often those policies have cover which will pay for employment claims.

If you are a member of a trade union or other membership organisation check to see if they will pay for a solicitor.

Many employment solicitors offer fixed fees.  Check with the solicitor whether it is a fixed fee or an estimation/quote because that could increase with the work.

Some solicitors offer damages based agreements which some people also call no win, no fee, agreements.  If the solicitor offers one of these then they are agreeing not to charge you if you lose but to deduct a sum from your compensation to cover their fees if they win.  However they do not have to offer you such an arrangement and many don’t.

It may be that you come to an agreement to settle any dispute with your employer and the employer wants you to sign a settlement agreement.  Often in those circumstances they will pay for an independent solicitor to advise you on the terms of that agreement.  Make sure you chose a solicitor experienced in such advices and you give them all the facts of your case.

Will I need a local solicitor?

You do not need a local solicitor to pursue an employment claim.  Most of the work can be done by telephone or in writing.  You can meet the solicitor at the court or tribunal if it gets that far but most cases settle without a trial or hearing.

You should chose a solicitor with specialist knowledge of employment law as it is a complex area.  Look at their website; does it contain articles about employment law, employment law cases they have been involved in and any awards they have won?

Am I employed?

One of the key points to establish in an employment claim is whether you are an employee.  Usually it is obvious but in this day and age of zero hour contracts, flexible working, and gig economy, some employers try to argue that their staff cannot pursue employment claims because they are not employees.  What an employer calls the relationship is not necessarily the end of the matter.  So it is worth discussing with a solicitor whether you are an employee with rights even if there may be some doubt about it.