Employment law ranges from major corporate challenges to individual situations which are central to one person’s life – I enjoy this diversity and especially like the chance to build relationships with clients, focusing on their objectives above all else.
I have worked with such a wide range of clients, from a rail franchise operator and construction companies to people in the health, care, charity and social housing sectors – employment touches on people’s lives and the success of their businesses in every sector and industry. I adapt my approach to reflect what my clients want – sometimes they need practical support, but sometimes they need a tenacious and robust response to defend against an unmeritorious claim.
Outside work, I focus on living life to the full with my friends and family, enjoying keeping fit socialising and taking family holidays.
Think about what you really want to achieve in any situation, whether that is an employment dispute or a corporate transaction and make sure your solicitor is clear on what that is. It’s unlikely that you will get everything you want and compromises will have to be made. It really helps us to know what your main priorities are.
Don’t be afraid to tackle problems at an early stage rather than letting them escalate. Hopefully this will help by preventing a problem turning into a crisis, but if not, you will at least have evidence of what you have done to deal with it.
Don’t put anything in an email which you would not be happy to put in a letter. Emails may have to be disclosed either in the course of tribunal proceedings or in response to a subject access request. So please bear this in mind before pressing Send!
Q. Do I need to carry out an investigation?
A. I am often asked this when a client has received a complaint by an employee against another employee, and in most cases the answer to the question will be yes. Even if you know your employees well and think you know who is ‘right’ and who is ‘wrong’, it is important to ensure that you do not make assumptions and are fair to both parties.
A good investigation can also uncover issues that you may not previously have been aware of, for example that someone’s management style is too assertive and may be perceived by others as being bullying. This does not mean that you have to dismiss that person and you may be able to resolve the situation through talking to the individuals concerned and providing training.
Q. My business has won an important new contract. Does that mean that I have to take on the previous contractor’s staff?
A. Possibly. This situation may be covered by the Transfer of Undertaking (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE). The regulations protect the employment rights of employees in certain situations, for example when their employer’s business is taken over by someone else or where their employer loses a contract which is then taken over by someone else. However, the way in which TUPE applies to outsourcing situations is not straightforward and there are exceptions. Good legal advice can therefore essential in this situation to ascertain what your responsibilities are.
Q. I have agreed to part company with one of my employees. It’s all very amicable, so do I need a settlement agreement?
A. This will depend on the circumstances, but if there is any possibility of a claim against you, or if you are paying more than the employee’s contractual entitlement then the answer will often be yes. This is because employees cannot generally contract out of their statutory employment rights. There are very limited exceptions to this rule, one of which is where they have signed a settlement agreement and have received independent legal advice on the effect of the agreement.
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