Employment lawyers in Bristol & Somerset

At some point in your career, it’s likely that you’ll need employment law advice. Our specialist team offer the advice and support you need to guide you through challenging situations at work – from contract re-negotiations to the threat of redundancy, maternity discrimination to workplace bullying.

Perhaps you’ve been asked to attend a disciplinary hearing, or you suspect that you’re being treated unfairly compared to your colleagues. Or you may simply want some guidance on the best way to handle a difficult manager or manage tricky issues at work.

We’re used to dealing with ongoing work-related issues. You don’t need to wait until crisis point before contacting our employment law specialists.

Employment law advice for employees

It isn’t easy leaving your work life at the office door. A problem at work can quickly escalate into a problem at home; it can be all-consuming.

Don’t let problems at work affect your emotional and physical health before speaking to an employment lawyer. Employment legislation is there to protect you; but it isn’t always easy to apply the law to your personal situation.

We’re cost-effective and practical. We’ll talk you through your options, explain your next steps and tell you what outcomes you should expect. More importantly, we’ll be right beside you – making sure you’re being treated fairly.

Our employment lawyers in Bristol and Somerset can help with a range of work-related problems, including:

  • Redundancy advice
  • Settlement agreements
  • Unfair or constructive dismissal
  • Unlawful discrimination of all types, including sexual, racial, religious or age discrimination
  • Contract advice, including breach of contract
  • Workplace bullying and harassment
  • Family-friendly rights, including maternity leave & flexible working

Reviewing employment contracts

Before signing an employment contract, it’s important that you understand the terms within – and how they align with the position you’ve been offered. We’ll work with you to explain your contract, help you negotiate contractual terms and protect you against potential issues.

Disciplinary and performance issues

Workplace performance or conduct issues can be incredibly stressful – especially if you’ve been asked to attend a disciplinary hearing. However you can limit potential career damage by having the right legal support in place.

We’ll start by analysing your case. We’ll help you prepare for your disciplinary hearing and we’ll be there to challenge your employer if they’re not acting fairly. We can also negotiate and advise on settlement options if that’s your preferred way forward.

Workplace complaints

Bullying, harassment or discrimination at work can be detrimental to your career and your health. Equally damaging is if you’ve raised whistle-blowing concerns that haven’t been handled properly. We can advise you on the best way to register a complaint or workplace grievance with your employer, including bringing legal proceedings and arranging a settlement if necessary.

Maternity leave, flexible working & family-friendly rights

The law protects pregnant women and new mothers on maternity, but the rights of those eligible for paternity leave, adoption leave and shared parental leave are also protected. As an employee, you also have the right to request flexible working and for your request to be considered by your employer.

We can advise you on your family-friendly rights, how best to structure any requests and what to do if you believe your employer is not treating you fairly.

Employment tribunal claims

Taking an employer to a tribunal is usually a last resort. However when mediation isn’t successful or if litigation is the only option, we’ll guide you through the process. We’ll be clear about your likelihood of success. We’ll provide an upfront estimate of our costs and all the support you need – to the final hearing and beyond.

Whether you’re a director, senior manager or junior employee, you’ll receive our highest level of care. We can help you make sense of what’s happened, what is likely to happen and what practical steps you can take to start resolving matters.

To speak to an employment law solicitor in Bristol or Somerset, call our Bristol office on 0117 972 1261 or our Shepton Mallet employment law team on 01749 345 756.

We offer employment law advice to a range of clients in South Bristol and Somerset, covering Shepton Mallet, Wells, Glastonbury, Street, Frome and Chew Magna.

Workplace discrimination solicitors

If you’re experiencing discrimination, harassment or bullying at work, speak to our employment law solicitors in Bristol and Shepton Mallet. We can help you present your grievances to your employer in a calm, constructive manner whilst also taking positive, practical steps to resolve the problem.

Many clients want to deal with problems at work informally – at least initially. However we can also help you bring legal proceedings through an employment tribunal, as well as negotiating settlements on your behalf.

Everyone has the right to be treated fairly at work and there are laws in place that protect you against bullying and workplace discrimination. Furthermore, your employer has a duty to treat all staff fairly – starting at interview stage and continuing for the entirety of your employment.

Direct discrimination v indirect discrimination

The Equality Act 2010 protects UK employees from being discriminated against due to certain ‘protected characteristics’. These include age, gender, race, religion and sexual orientation.

Broadly speaking, there are two types of discrimination – direct discrimination and indirect discrimination.

  • You may be able to make a claim for direct discrimination if you were treated differently on the basis of a ‘protected characteristic’. Direct discrimination claims include age discrimination and discrimination on religious grounds, or if you were treated unfairly because you were pregnant.
  • Indirect discrimination can occur when you’re treated in the same way as others at work – but your employer’s policy or procedure is detrimental to you. A good example is when an employer implements a dress code that bans the wearing of religious jewellery or symbols.

Can I claim for workplace discrimination?

Not all cases of workplace discrimination are clear cut. It may be that you simply suspect that you’ve been discriminated against – but you can’t prove it yourself.

If you think you’ve been treated differently or unfairly at work, speak to our employment lawyers in Bristol and Somerset. We can help you determine whether you’ve been treated less favourably than someone else and if there are sufficient grounds for you to make a workplace discrimination claim.

Examples of discrimination at work could include:

  • Unfair pay – is your employer paying you less than someone else doing the same role, to the same standard, because of your gender or ethnicity?
  • Childcare & family discrimination – has your request for flexible working been unfairly refused?
  • Age discrimination – have you been denied a role because of your age, or have you been selected for redundancy over a younger employee despite you performing better?
  • Maternity discrimination – have you had a job offer withdrawn, been overlooked for internal promotion or been dismissed from your role, solely due to being pregnant?

Bullying & harassment at work claims

Harassment or bullying at work can take many forms. It can be hard to define, it’s often subtle and it can come from an individual or a group of people.

Regardless, if you’ve been subject to intimidating, offensive or malicious behaviour that is intended to humiliate you and create a degrading or hostile environment, speak to our employment law solicitors.

If this behaviour has caused you to resign from your job, you may be able to make a constructive or unfair dismissal claim. Speak to our experienced employment team for advice which is relevant for your circumstances.

To speak to an employment law solicitor in Bristol or Somerset about discrimination at work or a claim for workplace bullying, call our Bristol office on 0117 972 1261 or our Shepton Mallet employment law team on 01749 345 756.

We offer employment law advice to a range of clients in South Bristol and Somerset, covering Shepton Mallet, Wells, Glastonbury, Street, Frome and Chew Magna.

Redundancy solicitors in Bristol & Somerset

For many people, the threat of redundancy will come as a shock. Whilst some will embrace it as an opportunity to retire or change career, it isn’t always welcome news – particularly if you’ve been with the firm for a long time or you’re worried about securing a new job.

If you’re concerned, speak to our employment law experts for redundancy advice. We’re more than familiar with the redundancy process. We’ll explain what’s happening, why and what you should expect next. We’re on your side, making sure you’re being treated fairly throughout.

If redundancy is on the cards for you, it’s important that you understand your legal rights as an employee. Whether you’ve been made redundant, or if you’re currently going through the redundancy process, you may be entitled to:

  • Redundancy pay
  • A notice period
  • Paid holiday
  • Time off to look for a new job
  • An alternative role in the business

Redundancy selection process

There are plenty of misconceptions around the process of making people redundant. Those nearest to retirement aren’t front of the queue and the notion of ‘last in, first out’ is a myth.

By law your employer has to follow a fair and objective selection process when making anyone redundant. They can’t select you for redundancy on the basis of your age, gender, religion or race. They can’t make you redundant because you’re pregnant, on maternity leave or because you work part-time. However they can base their decision to make you redundant on criteria such as your skills, disciplinary record, attendance and standard of work.

If your employer fails to follow proper procedure or if you believe you were selected for redundancy on prejudicial grounds, speak to our employment lawyers. We’ll tell you if we think your employer has treated you unfairly and whether you have grounds to bring a discrimination claim against them in an employment tribunal.

Settlement agreements

In order to finalise your redundancy and terminate your contract, your employer is likely to offer you a settlement agreement outlining a number of terms, including redundancy pay. If matters are straightforward, this is one way for both parties to save time and money. However by signing it you also waive any right to pursue a future claim against your employer for unfair dismissal.

To become legally binding, a settlement agreement has to meet certain requirements. It must be in writing and you must receive independent legal advice on the implications of signing it – such as from our employment law solicitors.

You can find out more about settlement agreements and how we can help you decide whether you’re being offered fair terms, by visiting our settlement agreements page.

To speak to an employment law solicitor in Bristol or Somerset for redundancy advice, call our Bristol office on 0117 972 1261 or our Shepton Mallet employment solicitors on 01749 345 756.

We offer employment law advice to a range of clients in South Bristol and Somerset, covering Shepton Mallet, Wells, Glastonbury, Street, Frome and Chew Magna.

Settlement agreement solicitors

When it comes to leaving our jobs, not everyone has a positive experience. This often comes down to one simple fact: whether you moved on voluntarily, or whether you were forced to.

If you and your employer have parted ways and it isn’t entirely amicable, one way in which to resolve any outstanding issues is for them to offer you a settlement agreement. A settlement agreement is often used when bringing an employment relationship to an end in order to avoid or conclude a workplace dispute.

If you’ve been offered a settlement agreement by your employer, you need independent advice from an employment solicitor. Our employment lawyers will support you throughout the process to ensure that the terms you’re being offered are reasonable and, more importantly, that you’re being treated fairly.

What is a settlement agreement?

A settlement agreement is a written legal contract that brings your employment, and any relationship with your employer, to an end on mutual terms.

Every settlement agreement is different, but it’s normal for your employer to offer you financial compensation and for them to agree to certain conditions (such as providing an agreed reference). There may also be a gagging/confidentiality clause which forbids you from speaking negatively about your employer.

In return, you waive your right to pursue an employment tribunal claim against your former employer for terminating your employment early or because of a certain complaint.

Your settlement agreement is the final stage in your current employment. Signing it will confirm that you accept the terms and your contract will be terminated with immediate effect.

Legal advice on a settlement agreement

As an employee, you can’t simply accept the terms offered in a settlement agreement. An agreement will only become legally binding once you’ve received advice from an independent adviser – such as an employment law solicitor.

Don’t be concerned about the cost of this however; most employers pay for employees to receive initial legal advice on a settlement agreement.

Our employment law solicitors will review your settlement agreement and can help you consider whether you’re getting a good deal – or whether you have grounds for a claim against your employer. For example, if you’ve left your job because of a complaint about workplace discrimination or bullying, it might not be in your best interests to accept the initial terms being offered without some further negotiation between your employer and employment lawyer.

When reviewing your settlement agreement, we’ll also consider why you’re being offered it. We’ll look at whether the terms you’re being offered are adequate to compensate you for the loss of your job and we’ll make sure you fully understand what rights you’ll be waiving by agreeing to it.

Can I refuse to sign a settlement agreement?

A settlement agreement isn’t compulsory; you’re under no obligation to sign it – especially if you feel that the terms aren’t adequate or you’re being discriminated against. Your employment solicitor will discuss your options and next steps with you – one of which is taking your employer to an employment tribunal if it comes to it.

To speak to an employment law solicitor in Bristol or Somerset about a settlement agreement, call our Bristol office on 0117 972 1261 or our Shepton Mallet employment law team on 01749 345 756.

We offer employment law advice to a range of clients in South Bristol and Somerset, covering Shepton Mallet, Wells, Glastonbury, Street, Frome and Chew Magna.

Employment FAQS

When it comes to employment law, getting the right advice at the right time can make all the difference. To help you understand more about the options available to you, we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions below.

What is the time limit for bringing an employment tribunal claim?

It’s very short, so speak to an employer law solicitor as soon as possible. You normally have three months less one day from the date that the incident occurred to make an employment tribunal claim.

Before making a tribunal claim however, you must request early conciliation from Acas. This process ‘stops the clock’ as it brings you and your employer together to try and resolve your workplace dispute before the case reaches a tribunal.

If you can’t reach an agreement through conciliation, you will have at least one month following the process to make your tribunal claim.

Can I be made redundant on maternity leave?

Yes, you can. Being on maternity leave doesn’t stop you being made redundant – as long as the reasons for selecting you are fair and correct procedures have been followed.

However being pregnant or on maternity leave isn’t a valid reason for making you redundant. This would be considered unfair and you would have grounds to take your employer to an employment tribunal for maternity discrimination.

If you think you’ve been treated differently at work because you’re pregnant, call our employment law solicitors in Bristol on 0117 972 1261 or our employment law team in Shepton Mallet on 01749 345 756 to speak to someone about your options.

I’m being bullied at work. What can I do?

Any form of workplace bullying and harassment is unacceptable. Your employer should have an anti-bullying policy which sets out the procedure for dealing with this problem.

If you need advice on resolving it, or help drafting a complaint to your employer, call our employment lawyers in Somerset on 01749 345 756 or Bristol on 0117 972 1261.

Is a settlement agreement legally binding?

Yes, a settlement agreement is legally binding – as long as certain conditions are met. These include:

  • The settlement agreement must be in writing
  • It relates to a particular situation or issue
  • You’ve had advice from an independent adviser, such as an employment lawyer

Can I request flexible working?

Employees will more than 26 weeks’ continuous service has a legal right to request flexible working. Your employer is obliged to consider your request fairly and within a reasonable timescale – but this isn’t a guarantee that it will be granted.

Speak to our employment law team if you feel that your request for flexible working has been denied unfairly or if you’ve been treated differently to one of your colleagues. We will tell you if we think you have a case for workplace discrimination and can talk to you about your options.

My employer hasn’t given me a contract of employment

Whilst there’s no legal obligation for your employer to give you an employment contract, there is specific information that they must provide within two months of your start date. This includes your salary, notice period and holiday entitlement.

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