Sally Hubbard

Sally Hubbard

sallyhubbard

Sally Hubbard is the Head of the Employment Law Team at Ringrose Law. The team is made up of dedicated and experienced specialists, helping both employees and employers with their work related issues. Sally has specialised in Employment Law for her entire career, and has represented countless clients at the Employment Tribunal.


There can sometimes come a point when employers and employees decide to go their separate ways. This could be as a result of a dispute, redundancy process or just a decision to part company.

Often the employee will be required to sign a Settlement Agreement (formally known as a Compromise Agreement) when leaving their employer’s business. For most, these agreements are straightforward.

However, there are times when employees are not being offered sufficient compensation for their claims, or occasionally they have been misled about the agreement. In those circumstances, further help is needed.

What is a Settlement Agreement?

This is a binding contract between you and your employer whereby you agree not to bring a claim against them, usually in exchange for a compensation payment. There are a number of formalities for such an agreement, for example, you must receive independent legal advice before signing.

What rights am I giving away?

The employer will include within the agreement any claims they consider you may have against them. Usually, claims such as unfair dismissal, redundancy payments etc are specifically mentioned. When you have signed the Settlement Agreement you have agreed not to pursue those claims.

Is my compensation enough?

Only you can decide whether you are satisfied with the amount of compensation you will receive. However, before signing, it is important that you tell your solicitor about any problems you have had at work. You should then receive advice about the claims you may have and the potential value of those claims. Only then can you make an informed decision about whether to sign.

Do I have to sign a Settlement Agreement to receive statutory redundancy pay and notice?

Absolutely not! If you have been made redundant by your employer there are minimum rights and entitlements. You do not have to agree no to purse a claim against your employer just to access those rights.

Sally Hubbard is the Head of the Employment Law Team at Ringrose Law. The team is made up of dedicated and experienced specialists, helping both employees and employers with their work related issues. Sally has specialised in Employment Law for her entire career, and has represented countless clients at the Employment Tribunal.

The world of the Employment Lawyer is about to change. At the end of this month, for the first time, the Employment Tribunal will charge a fee to anyone wishing to submit a claim.

This decision has been met with huge controversy. The idea that employees will now have to pay to enforce their statutory rights in respect of unfair dismissal, redundancy pay and discrimination etc has not received universal approval. However, given the current economic situation, it is not surprising the Government is trying to find ways of recovering some of the cost of Employment Tribunal cases.

History lesson

Industrial Tribunals were first established under the Industrial Training Act 1964; initially they dealt with appeals by employers against training levies. The powers and scope of Industrial Tribunals grew and they began to deal with all kinds of workplace disputes including unfair dismissal, salary rights, redundancy pay, discrimination and others. In 1998, Industrial Tribunals became Employment Tribunals and their jurisdiction increased further.

Employment Tribunals have never charged a fee to employees wanting to bring a claim against their employer. However, from July 29, 2013, this will change. Employees will be charged a fee when they submit their claim form and a further Hearing fee before their claim comes to trial. The amount of the fee will depend on the type of claim.

Will there definitely be fees?

Unions have sought to challenge the introduction of fees at the Employment Tribunal stating that they are disproportionate and discriminatory. At the time of writing, we do not know whether that challenge has been successful. What we do know is that time rushes ever forward and it would therefore be prudent to expect fees to be payable from July 29, whilst at the same time keeping our eyes peeled for any last minute reprieve.

Will everyone have to pay a fee?

Whilst there will be provisions in place for employees who cannot afford Employment Tribunal fees, these exemptions will be limited. Also, the Employment Tribunal expect employers to refund fees to employees once their claims are successful; however the employee must find the money “up front” to submit their claim in the first place. Only time will tell how successful employees will be in recovering the fees they have paid from their employer.

Will fees make that much difference?

By way of example, if we had two identical employees, with two identical claims of unfair dismissal and one waited until July 29 to submit their claim:

Claim sent on or before July 28 2013
No Issue Fee – £0
No Hearing Fee – £0
Total – £0

Claim sent on or after July 29 2013
Issue Fee – £250.00
Hearing Fee – £950.00
Total – £1,200

The moral of the story?

As ever, your view of the Employment Tribunal and fees will most likely depend upon whether you are an employer or an employee. For employers, the introduction of fees (along with a number of other measures) may impact upon any decisions made in respect of staff. For employees, the introduction of fees may make the difference between whether they can or cannot afford to pursue their claims.

Sally Hubbard is the Head of the Employment Law Team at Ringrose Law. The team is made up of dedicated and experienced specialists, helping both employees and employers with their work related issues. Sally has specialised in Employment Law for her entire career, and has represented countless clients at the Employment Tribunal.

The relationship between employer and employee is a personal one: each must rely upon and trust the other. When something happens to upset that relationship, and employment is put at risk, this affects every part of the employee’s life.

The threat of losing employment is not just the threat of losing a job but the loss of an income, lifestyle and status. For most people, losing their job can have ramifications which far exceed the actual dismissal.

This is particularly the case for employees who lose their employment for a misconduct issue. Such dismissals can result in difficulties finding alternative employment or having to take a position several rungs down the career ladder.

Despite this, all too often employees are willing to attend disciplinary meetings or answer allegations of misconduct without any proper preparation or defence.

Employers are required to follow a fair procedure when considering the alleged misconduct of an employee and it is up to the employee to fully utilise the opportunities such a procedure presents.

I have set out below some top tips for anyone facing disciplinary action. If you find yourself the subject of a misconduct investigation or invited to a disciplinary meeting, these are some golden rules you should follow:

What are the allegations?

You must find out exactly what the allegations against you are prior to the disciplinary meeting. It is quite common for employees to be invited to a disciplinary meeting and only find out the detail of their alleged misconduct during the meeting itself.

You should be provided with sufficient information to enable you to prepare and respond to the allegations. Your employer should inform you what the alleged incidents are, when they occurred and why those incidents are matters of misconduct.

Obtain a copy of your employer’s disciplinary procedure

If your employer has not already provided you with a copy of their disciplinary procedure, then request one. Many employees do not have access to their employer’s disciplinary procedure and therefore have no information about how the disciplinary process will be conducted and what the likely outcome will be.

Always attend the disciplinary meeting

You should always attend your disciplinary meeting. It is your legal right to take along either a Trade Union Representative or a fellow colleague.

It is extremely useful to have someone present during the meeting; not only as a companion to support you, but to take notes for you and act as a witness if required in the future.

Make sure you have an independent record of the meeting rather than relying solely on the employer’s notes or minutes. If you can, record the meeting to avoid any dispute over what was or was not said.

Assuming your employer intends to deal with the matter properly, fairly and in accordance with their disciplinary procedure, there can be no objection to allowing you to record the meeting.

Take a disciplinary statement

Attending a disciplinary meeting can be a very stressful, daunting experience and even if employees have prepared for the meeting itself, they can forget to mention certain points or get sidetracked by their employer’s agenda.

It is therefore extremely useful to prepare a disciplinary statement to take into the meeting with you. Make sure you have enough copies for each of the disciplinary panel members so they can all take a copy away with them. There is then of course a record of what representations you made and there is no risk that your points can be ignored.

Appeal

If you disagree with the outcome to the disciplinary, you must appeal. All employees have the right to appeal against the decision even if the employer does not give you the option. The appeal should be in writing and include full grounds as to why you disagree with your employer’s decision. There then should be a review of the decision made by independent person within the organisation.

Finally, if you believe your employer has been unfair in their treatment of you, you should consider submitting a claim to the Employment Tribunal. Currently there is no cost or fee to submit a claim and you can do so by post, fax or online.

However, for claims submitted on or after July 29, 2013, the Employment Tribunal will require a fee to be paid for issuing the claim and when the matter is listed for hearing.

Sally Hubbard is the Head of the Employment Law Team at Ringrose Law. The team is made up of dedicated and experienced specialists, helping both employees and employers with their work related issues. Sally has specialised in Employment Law for her entire career, and has represented countless clients at the Employment Tribunal.