Taking Legal Advice About an Employment Issue
When Should you Take legal Advice about an Employment Issue?
Most workers will, at one time or another during the course of their working lives, encounter a problem at work. Whatever the nature of the problem then there are steps that you can take to try and improve the situation yourself before taking legal advice from an expert.
Handling a Situation Yourself
Initially it is always worth trying to resolve a difficulty informally. It might be that nobody has noticed that you are struggling with the amount of work you have to do or that the comments made by a colleague are upsetting you. Try talking to your supervisor or manager as soon as you can. If the problem relates to your manager then talk to another manager or go above their heads. Some people may find it easier to email rather than talk to someone face to face and that is a perfectly acceptable way of approaching the problem. If, having made every attempt to resolve your problem informally then your next step is to make a more formal complaint.
A grievance procedure is effectively the method by which employees may make formal complaints to their employers. The procedure should be set out in writing and openly available to you. The most likely place to find it would be in your contract, a company handbook or on the intranet. If a company is large enough to warrant a personnel or human resources department then they should be able to advise you about the procedure. A grievance procedure is a three step process.
Step 1: Your written complaint
Step 2: A meeting to discuss your complaint
Step 3: The ability to appeal any decision that your employer may come to about your complaint
You may also find it useful to look at the ACAS Guide to Discipline and Grievances at Work for further information.
Writing your Complaint
Having decided that you wish to make a formal complaint or grievance then you will need to put that complaint in writing. The letter that you write should include all the problems that you are experiencing, the date and details of any incident that you wish to complain about and the details of any colleagues who might have witnessed what has happened. Your employer need not consider anything that you have not included in the letter if you then bring it up at the grievance meeting.
Why the Best Employment Legal Advice is to go through a Grievance Procedure.
It is always worth going through a grievance procedure before attempting to make a complaint to an employment tribunal. In order to deter employees from bringing their problems to tribunals before going through a company’s own internal complaints process, a tribunal is entitled to make a 25% reduction in any award that it grants to a claimant if that claimant has unreasonably failed to go through a grievance procedure.
If, despite having tried informally and formally to resolve the problems you are having at work, then you should consider taking employment legal advice. Our legal helpline is a good place to start. You can call us on 0800 014 8727 and speak to a member of our legally qualified team for free initial advice about what to do next.
When you are strongly advised to take employment law advice
There are occasions when you should take legal advice about an employment issue sooner rather than later.
- If you have been unfairly dismissed then you should take legal advice straightaway.
- If you are facing a disciplinary procedure then you would be well advised to talk to your union or consider calling our legal helpline on 0800 014 8727 for some free initial advice.
- If you think you are being made redundant and the selection criteria that is being used is unfair then you should you call us for advice.
- If your employer treats you so badly that you no longer feel able to go to continue working for them you should take advice before resigning.
Timing of employment legal advice
In most cases you must have issued your case to an employment tribunal within three months. For example, in the case of a complaint of unfair dismissal that must be within three months of being dismissed.