Employment Law Solicitors: Everything You Need To Know
Employment solicitors help guide you through the ins and outs of employment law and how it applies to your situation. Whether you’re facing redundancy, dealing with a dispute at work, need help negotiating a settlement agreement or require guidance on whistleblowing, an employment lawyer can help you understand your position and make informed decisions every step of the way.
At Lawhive, we have a team of the UK’s most trusted employment law solicitors ready to help you in as little as 5 minutes. To get started, simply tell us about your case and we will provide you with an instant fixed-fee quote from top employment law solicitors who are best suited to your case, whether that’s a redundancy solicitor, employment tribunal solicitor or harassment solicitor.
Whether you find yourself as an employee in need of justice or an employer seeking to ensure your workplace adheres to regulations, the importance of having the right legal guidance on your side can’t be overstated. This article is your go to resource for understanding how to find the ideal employment solicitor who can effectively address your employment-related concerns.
In this guide, we will answer the following questions:
What is employment law?
Employment law covers all legal matters relating to the workplace, including employment contracts and employer responsibilities, pay and wages, holiday and sickness, discrimination and bullying in the workplace, redundancy and dismissal, disciplinary and grievance procedures, working hours, recruitment processes, strikes, industrial action and much more.
As you can see from the above, employment law is a broad church that applies to all organisations, both public and private, including non-profits and self-employed individuals. It spans the whole employment cycle, from recruitment through to an employee leaving.
As such employment law is very varied and has been known to change quickly. For example, changes were made to employment law in response to Coronavirus in regard to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), working from home, and disciplinary procedures during the pandemic.
Therefore if you’re facing a problem at work, or you are an employer who is unsure on what actions to take in regards to a specific situation, it is important to seek help from an employment law specialist to ensure you understand your rights and responsibilities before moving forward.
What is an employment solicitor?
Employment solicitors are expert legal professionals that help with challenges at work like unfair treatment, wrongful dismissal, breach of contract, discrimination, wage disputes, and beyond. When work issues get complex, an employment lawyer can help you understand your rights, responsibilities, and whether you have a case to bring against an employer or employee.
What do employment solicitors do?
Employment solicitors help individuals or companies with employment disputes and related issues. They can also provide advice on best practice in relation to employment.
An employment lawyer can do either contentious and non-contentious work. Non-contentious work might include drafting employment contracts or advising on redundancies. Contentious work involves acting for either a claimant or a defendant in an employment dispute.
Employment lawyers and solicitors can be instructed at pretty much any point in the employment cycle from recruitment through to termination of employment contract. Let’s break it down further:
Recruitment & Negotiation
Contracts lie at the foundation of the hiring process. A solicitor can help employers create contracts and ensure they include things like:
For those securing a new job, a solicitor can be used to help negotiate terms, compensation and benefits. For higher paying roles instructing a solicitor to support you can result in a more favourable outcome in terms of holiday allowance, office location, salary, pension and beyond.
Both employees and employers might find themselves in need of a solicitor to help with a disciplinary process or grievance issue during employment. Examples of these kinds of issues include:
Discrimination based on gender, age, race, religion, sexuality or disability
Bullying or harassment
The above list is not exhaustive, however. There are many reasons why, as an employer or employee, you might need the help of a solicitor during employment. For example, you might feel you have a strong case for a constructive dismissal claim but need help navigating the process. If you are ever unsure, it is always wise to seek help from an employment law specialist who can review the particulars of your matter and provide personalised advice.
Leaving A Job
Many of us will change jobs around 12 times in our lifetime. This process is usually straightforward, however there might come a time when you encounter an issue and need help from a solicitor.
For example, a person who has worked for an employer for at least 2 years who has been dismissed may decide to seek legal advice and challenge the dismissal as unfair. Or, an employee might feel that they have no choice but to resign because of something their employer has done and use a solicitor to help them prove a constructive dismissal claim.
Another reason why someone might leave a job is edundancy. Employers must follow a strict process when selecting employers for redundancy, therefore they might choose to instruct a solicitor to help keep the process fair. Alternatively, an employee might appoint a solicitor if they feel they have been made redundant unfairly and want to negotiate a favourable redundancy settlement or their employer is refusing to pay redundancy pay because they have refused alternative employment.
Some employment contracts have restrictive covenants that stop a former employee from working for a competitor for a set period of time (non-compete clause) post-termination or restrict them from approaching clients, customers or contacts for a set period of time after leaving.
If an employee ignores these restrictive covenants, their former employer can take legal action against them. Alternatively, someone leaving a job might consult a solicitor to find out what their options are and how enforceable the clauses in their contracts are.
A person might also seek help from a solicitor if a former employer refuses to pay any outstanding wages they are owed upon leaving.
Who do employment solicitors help?
Employment solicitors can advise and represent anyone who may have a workplace dispute or issue they need legal help with. This can include:
Do I need an employment lawyer?
When faced with problems at work, a lot of people wonder whether they need an employment solicitor to help them, or if they should try and handle things themselves.
The answer to this question hinges on how complicated the legal issue is, and how confident you feel about tackling it alone. Employment law can be complex if you don’t fully understand your rights and responsibilities as an employer or employee, furthermore they can often be quite emotionally difficult, which can take its toll on even the strongest of individuals.
An employment law specialist can take some of that burden from you and provide you with expert advice, assistance, and representation on a range of different matters at different stages of employment.
How do I choose an employment solicitor?
A quick Google search will probably show that there are quite a few employment law solicitors near you and online. The question is: how do you choose the best employment solicitor?
The best place to start is a firm or solicitors website. The information on their website will help you quickly identify whether or not they have experience in the area of your matter, and give you a feel for the kind of legal professionals they are. However, don’t just take their word for it. Once you’ve had a look at their website, check out solicitor review sites and see what their past clients say about them. Testimonials and reviews will give you an honest inside look at how they work.
It’s also a good idea to chat to family and friends. It might be that they have used an employment solicitor in the past and they are happy to refer you to them. Conversely, if they’ve had a bad experience with a solicitor they can make you aware before you start working with them.
Many solicitors offer telephone, video or face to face consultations, which can also inform your decision. It’s important to know that these aren’t always free consultations, so be sure to check before making an appointment. That being said, it can be incredibly helpful to have an initial chat before agreeing to work with an employment lawyer to check if they're a good fit.
If at any point on your search for an employment solicitor you are unsure of the credentials of a legal professional, you can check a solicitor's record on the SRA website very quickly and find out if they have any violations on their records such as negligent representation or misappropriating client funds.
Good employment law solicitors are experienced, compassionate, transparent and communicative. This is the bare minimum you should look for when choosing an employment solicitor, as well as taking into account how they work (i.e. online or face to face) and how much they charge.
How much does employment advice cost?
The cost of an employment solicitor can vary depending on how complex the case is, whether it is contentious or non-contentious, and how the solicitor charges for their fees (i.e. hourly rate vs fixed fee). For example, average legal costs for a settlement agreement range from £250-500 for basic advice, but these costs are normally covered by the employer.
While some solicitors might offer a free consultation or quote, others may charge upwards of £150 for an initial appointment in where they provide advice specific to your situation, next steps, and what further costs to expect down the line.
Employment tribunals and disputes often result in a settlement agreement. How much a solicitor costs overall largely depends on how long it takes to reach a settlement. Employers have to offer to pay for you to get independent legal advice when making a settlement agreement and most employers will provide a contribution to an employee's settlement agreement legal fees, although they do not have to do this by law. There are no hard and fast rules around how much this contribution should be however. It is sometimes dependent on the employee, their job role and how complex the settlement agreement is.
It’s important to note that the above costs are average. For an accurate quote from the UK’s top solicitors, tell us about your case and we will give you an instant fixed fee cost with a full breakdown of services covered in relation to your employment matter.
Should I get a solicitor for an employment tribunal?
You don’t need a solicitor to make a tribunal claim. That being said, checking the requirements for the claim you’re making, the ins and outs of early conciliation, and assessing the strength of your claim can be quite difficult to do alone, and you may find yourself overwhelmed if you do decide to do it yourself.
A solicitor can advise you on what claims you might have, decide if you meet the conditions to make those claims, and review all the evidence to help you make an informed decision. They can also support you through the process of making a claim to an employment tribunal such as telling Acas, early conciliation, interim relief, and the tribunal hearing itself.
Common employment issues
Many issues can arise in the workplace, and sometimes they can escalate to the point where an employer or employee decides to take legal action. Some of these employment disputes are more common than others. Here is a brief overview of common workplace issues and disputes that may end with legal action:
Discrimination based on race, gender, age, religion, disability, or other protected characteristics.
Harassment, such as sexual harassment, bullying, or creating a hostile work environment.
Wrongful Termination: Firing an employee without a valid legal reason or in violation of employment contracts.
Retaliation: Taking adverse actions against employees who report misconduct or participate in protected activities, such as whistle blowing.
Wage and Hour Disputes: Issues related to unpaid overtime, minimum wage violations, work pattern requests or misclassification of employees as exempt from overtime pay.
Unfair Dismissal: Terminating an employee without following proper procedures or a valid reason.
Breach of Contract: Violating the terms of an employment contract, including salary, benefits, or job responsibilities.
Failure to Accommodate Disabilities: Not providing reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities as required by law.
Workplace Safety Violations: Failing to maintain a safe working environment or not addressing safety concerns.
Non-Compete Agreements: Enforcing overly restrictive non-compete agreements that hinder employees' ability to find new employment.
Family and Medical Leave Violations: Failure to provide employees with legally mandated leave for family or medical reasons.
Denial of Meal and Rest Breaks: Not providing required breaks or denying employees the opportunity to take them.
Rights and responsibilities overview
Employees and employers have certain rights and responsibilities in the workplace relating to according to employment law:
Fundamentally, employers have to ensure employees are treated fairly and have a safe environment to work in. They must also make sure that their business follows any other laws and regulations that are specific to their sector.
As well as rights at work, employees also have responsibilities to both their employer and their colleagues. They must take care of their own health and safety, and that of others who may be affected by their actions at work. And they must cooperate with employers and coworkers to help everyone meet their legal requirements.
When an employer or an employee fails to do any of the above, it can result in legal action being taken against them.
How Lawhive can help
If you are looking for an employment solicitor to help you, then you are in the right place. Whether you’re an employer looking for guidance in relation to your rights and responsibilities, or you have been dismissed or made redundant, our network of employment law solicitors are here for you. Thanks to the depth and breadth of our employment lawyers, Lawhive can help with:
Unfair dismissal claims
Pay and salary disputes
Bullying and harassment
Grievance, disciplinary, or misconduct proceedings
TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations)
We understand time is of the essence if you are considering starting employment tribunal proceedings, so if you tell us about your case we promise to give you a fixed fee quote and find you a suitable solicitor in less than 5 minutes. What’s more, we can usually get started on your case right away.