Disputes at Work

Many workers do not know all their rights at work, which can lead to complicated problems. There are many potential disputes, which are normally either grievance-related (where you raise an issue) or disciplinary-related (where your employer raises an issue). Often, problems are raised informally, but if they cannot be resolved then formal tribunal procedures can follow.

Solicitors are able to explain the process whenever there is a work dispute, evaluating all options and guiding you through it if they believe you could pursue a legal case against your employer. You should arrange a meeting and check which details they require beforehand.

Causes for disputes

The following are a number of typical examples of discrimination in the workplace and unfair dismissal, for you to evaluate your complaint. Your solicitor will be able to expand on these and explain even more issues.

Discrimination – Being treated differently due to:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sexuality

Unfair dismissal – If employed for two years, but then dismissed for any of the following, it is ‘unfair’:

  • Exposing wrongful actions happening within the company (whistle-blowing)
  • Health and safety issues
  • Implementing your legal rights (such as minimum wage and leave options)
  • Resigning from your job, even though you met the notice period requirements
  • Strikes or other trade union actions

Beginning procedures

To be able to explain your options, your solicitor will need personal information from you such as:

  • Current progress in resolving the dispute
  • If there are any files beneficial to resolving the dispute
  • Start date
  • Wages
  • What your problem is
  • Why there is a problem

Should they decide that you have a valid case, they will explain each stage that you could now encounter. However, the first thing will be to ask you to attempt to resolve the dispute directly with your employer. They can explain what to say and also negotiate for a settlement on your behalf if necessary.

You could contact your employer informally, or through your company’s specific procedures for problems and disputes at work, which is formal. You should attend any meetings that they arrange for you and make use of their appeal options. If you come to an agreement then you should make a legal document detailing the decisions made, and stop your legal claim.

Even if these direct talks fail, they are strongly recommended because an employment tribunal may reduce your possible settlement if you have not showed that you are trying to reach an agreement before the tribunal. If you are still unhappy and want your claim to go to a tribunal, you will need to keep communicating with your solicitor in order to keep to the time deadlines set out by the law.

Employment tribunals

Your claim will be assessed by a lawyer and two independent people who have experience in workplace disputes. They will evaluate the behaviours by both parties, the attempts that have been made to find a solution and consider how this has developed with regards to the company’s workplace disputes programme.
In order to maximise your chances of a successful tribunal, your solicitor will compile as much evidence as possible to support you, and prepare you for it thoroughly so you understand exactly what is happening.

The lawyer and associates will consider all the evidence to decide (by majority vote) whether you or your employer is in the wrong. Should the tribunal rule in your favour then you may be entitled to compensation, or if you were unfairly dismissed you could occasionally receive your job back. The majority of tribunals are completed within one day.

Financing a dispute claim

If you are a member of a trade union, or have a certain insurance policy, then you may be able to have your legal fees paid for.

Be aware that although your employer might have to cover your legal costs if your claim is approved, you may have to cover theirs if your claim is deemed unfair and unnecessary.