Meet the team – Helen Cairns-Terry

1st February 2022

Helen, an employment lawyer, hears it all – the good, the bad and the ugly!

Her work covers all aspects of employment law, both in court and out of court, mostly on behalf of employers. The variety this offers her is one of the aspects which she enjoys most. From employment tribunal litigation to negotiating settlement agreements or drafting contracts of employment, no two days are the same.

She said: “I love the fact that my job is all about people – you hear the good, the bad and the ugly about what employees get up to!

“But I also have the chance to apply complex legal principles to lots of different situations; presenting them to clients in a common sense, easily accessible way helps to resolve issues and move situations forward in a constructive way. That is very rewarding.”

Some of Helen’s cases have been complex, and the solution is not always obvious. One tribunal case,  where the claimant was bringing multiple disability discrimination claims regarding the manner in which her medical condition was managed, was especially complex. The claimant was still employed by Helen’s client which added an extra layer of complexity.

Helen said: “Despite being confident in the merits of the client’s case, we negotiated a settlement which was in effect the claimant withdrawing their claim, with our client not having to pay the claimant or do anything above what it was already doing, namely managing the claimant under its policies.

“Given the on-going employment relationship, this settlement avoided both sides going through a five-day hearing which would have inevitably damaged relations further and ensured that our client could manage the claimant with these issues settled (without having to wait several months for a judgment from the tribunal).”

From the factually complex to the very large-scale, Helen also handled the employment issues relating to the acquisition of more than 25 four-star and five-star hotels for over £500m. This naturally brought with it some interesting issues, from how to deal with staff uniforms from a tax perspective through to how to handle tips which were managed through a single fund shared by staff.

But it is not all work – she has been lucky enough to spend a night in an Ice Hotel in Lapland!

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