If you’ve suffered from a breach of your employment contract by your employer it can be difficult to know what to do about it. Without knowing what rights you have, you may be inclined to just let it go and accept the breach.
But you can take action. Our Employment Law Solicitors will give you free initial legal advice on your employer’s breach of contract so you know exactly where you stand.
Our Employment Law Solicitors have years of experience in helping employees whose employers have breached their employment contract to address it and resolve it.
For free initial legal advice get in touch with our Employment Law Solicitors.
More Information on Breach of Employment Contract
In simple terms, a breach of employment contract is when your employer breaks one of the terms of your contract of employment. The terms of your contract usually appear in the ‘terms and conditions of employment section’, but you can also have verbally agreed terms and also ‘implied’ terms.
To know if your employer has breached the terms of your employment contract is to identify the terms of the agreement between you both. It is difficult to know your rights if you don’t know your terms and conditions of employment. We’ve set out some of the issues to address below.
What’s Your Employment Status?
Most rights in the workplace are under legislation which protects employees.
An employee is someone who is working under a contract of employment. In more recent years, lots of legal claims have been made to define all different work relationships, including in the gig economy and zero hour contracts.
If you are not an employee, you may be legally classed as a ‘worker’. Workers do enjoy certain rights from the companies they are attached to. Finally, the genuinely self-employed people, who have basically no rights.
We’ve focused the rights of employees who work under a contract of employment. Most people working in the UK are employees.
Do You Have Employment Terms?
You should expect to receive a written statement from an employer within a month of starting work. This should set out your main terms and conditions including things such as your start date, job title, work role, rate of pay, holiday information, sickness arrangements, notice period and other matters. Any amendments made to your statement should be notified to you by your employer within a month of any change happening.
This is all stated under section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996.
Unfortunately many employers fail to comply with their obligations under this legislation. This can result in uncertainty about the terms of an employer employee relationship. It can also lead to an Employment Tribunal penalising an employer in a Tribunal claim where an employer has to pay an additional award of compensation of up to four weeks of pay on top of any other compensation award.
Places You Can Find Contract Terms
Your terms and conditions of employment is often accompanied by a formal more detailed contract of employment. In addition, contract terms can arise from various other sources such as:
- An offer letter of employment
- An employee handbook
- A collective agreement where terms and conditions are governed by negotiations between an employer and a trade union
- Workplace policies and procedures – perhaps on sick pay and holiday arrangements
- A separate personal agreement between you and your employer
- Terms implied by the conduct of the parties or by law such as minimum holiday entitlement of 5.6 weeks from the Working Time Regulations
Employment Contract Disputes
Employment contract disputes can happen at any time. These disputes are best dealt with initially through informal discussion with your employer. If you can’t resolve it informally, you can use their grievance procedures.
Employment Tribunals can address whether your employer has given you an adequate section 1 statement, but they have no jurisdiction to deal with a breach of employment contract claim unless it happens on or is outstanding on the termination of employment.
But many disputes involving contract terms can be addressed through an Employment Tribunal. For example, if you have a contract dispute over pay you can make a claim for unlawful deductions, or if you have a holiday pay claim, these are always pursued in the Tribunal as long as it comes from entitlement under the Working Time Regulations.
You could also consider making an employment related claim in a County Court, but the Employment Tribunal usually provides a more convenient and cost effective way of addressing your concerns.
Breach of Contract and Unfair Dismissal
It’s important to note that a breach of employment contract can lead to various special circumstances being considered. In some circumstances, a breach of employment contract can be serious enough to allow an employee to resign and claim constructive and unfair dismissal. You would need specialist legal advice on this from an experienced Employment Law Solicitor.
Breach of Contract and TUPE
You may find that you have become involved in a transfer of your employment between businesses under the TUPE Regulations.
The basic terms of the TUPE Regulations are designed to make sure that a TUPE transfer protects your existing contractual terms and associated rights and should not mean that your terms and conditions should alter simply because of the transfer. TUPE cases involve complex issues and our Employment Solicitors have been involved in some very important cases.
Claim Time Limits
There are strict time limits when it comes to making an employment law claim in a Tribunal.
The usual time limit is three months from the date of the breach of your employment contract or the unlawful deduction of earnings, and always three months from when your employment ended.
Before you start an Employment Tribunal claim, you will need to complete the Early Conciliation process with ACAS. This is a requirement before any employment claim to see if it can be resolved before it goes to Tribunal. The three month time limit is paused while you go through the ACAS Early Conciliation process.
If your claim is suitable to go through the County Court, you will benefit from a more generous six year time limit period.
The most important thing about employment contract breaches is to get specialist legal advice as early as possible. The time limits in employment cases are short and strict so early advice will help you. We’ll also explore all the options you have available for funding your claim. Please ask if we can deal with your case on a No Win, No Fee basis.
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Simpson Millar Solicitors are a national law firm with over 500 staff and offices in Bristol, Cardiff, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester.