Hillary Cooper Law has a highly experienced employment team. We have experience of the broad range of legal issues affecting employers and workers. We can advise you on your rights and obligations; whether you are looking to start an employment relationship, manage an employment relationship or where your employment relationship has broken down. We can aid communication, help negotiate settlements or guide you when employment has to be terminated. We have the knowledge and skills to advise you clearly and correctly and to represent you clearly and powerfully.

For employees:

Maternity Leave

If you are planning a family, you need to know where you stand with your employer. There are many rights and protections for expectant and new mothers (and fathers). At Hillary Cooper Law we understand the law operates firstly to protect the health of mother and baby through pregnancy and into infancy. It also operates to minimise the negative impact pregnancy can have on your career. You are entitled to time off for antenatal care appointments and you are protected from any detrimental treatment because of your pregnancy. You are entitled to paid maternity leave for up to 39 weeks spanning childbirth and 52 weeks of maternity leave in total. When you are ready, you have the right to return to your job or to a similar job on the same terms and conditions. Nothing matters more than managing the precarious path into parenthood. Hillary Cooper Law will help you get there.

Maternity leave, statutory right employees are eligible for, assuming the correct notice is given to their employer. There is a maximum of 52 weeks Statutory Maternity Leave available, which is split between 26 weeks of ordinary maternity leave and 26 weeks of additional maternity leave.

39 weeks of the maternity leave could be paid subject to the terms of employment. This may differ depending on the length of time you have been with an employer. Individuals can be entitled to further time off with pay for antenatal care, which is subject to regulations. Particulars of the job role can be altered once the individual returns back to work, as the employee has the right to return to either her original job, or if this is not suitable, a similar job following the same term and conditions.

It is also important to note that pregnant women and women on maternity leave can lawfully be made redundant, however the reason for redundancy cannot be pregnancy or maternity.

Unfair Dismissal and Wrongful Dismissal

As an employee you are protected from unfair or wrongful dismissal. Your employer shouldn’t dismiss you without fair reason or in breach of your employment contract. If they do you are entitled to compensation. If an Employment Tribunal orders your employer to compensate you – they must do as they’re told. At Hillary Cooper Law we know the anxiety caused by the prospect of losing your job. If you are worried that might happen we can help you. We can help you communicate with your employer. If the worst has happened we can help put it right. The Employment Tribunal does not charge you for making a claim. We can advise you how.

Although there are occasions when Unfair Dismissal and Wrongful Dismissal both apply, they are two separate concepts of dismissal under Employment Law.
Unfair Dismissal protects the statutory right not to be dismissed unfairly by an employer. Whereas Wrongful Dismissal regards to a contractual right.

Being statute based, there is a checklist to determine if dismissal was fair on unfair. Briefly this checklist includes;

• The employer’s reason for dismissal;
• If the employer acted reasonably in treating said reason as sufficient to justify dismissing the employee;
• Whether or not the employer followed a fair procedure in dismissing the employee.

For an Unfair Dismissal claim to be brought, there is a required minimum of 2 years continuous service under that employer. These claims can only be brought to an employment tribunal, and not the County court or the High Court, whereas wrongful dismissal can be brought to either court due to its contractual nature, and if the claim value does not exceed £25,000, a claim can also be brought to an employment tribunal.

Wrongful dismissal differs from the average dismissal within an employer and employee relationship. Wrongful dismissal occurs when a breach of contract has resulted in dismissal of the employee from his contract of employment. Usually this appears in circumstances where the employer has dismissed an employee either without or with insufficient notice under their contract of employment. In order to bring a claim for Wrongful Dismissal there is no length of service under the contract of employment required, unlike with other areas of dismissal.

Restraint of trade clauses

We live in a free market economy where endeavour and advancement go hand in hand. As a director or employee, you are free to take your skills and experience to the market place. You are however required by law to maintain your loyalty to those you’re moving on from in certain important respects. At Hillary Cooper Law we understand those restrictions, and, more importantly, the limits to those restrictions. The law will not permit restraint of trade and continuing obligations have strict limits. We can help you agree those limits at the start of your working relationship or we can advise you on those limits when you are moving on in your career. Your skills and experience are yours. We can make sure they work for you.

Constructive Dismissal

In the UK you are protected from what the law calls ‘constructive dismissal’. Constructive dismissal is when you resign from your job but you do it because your employer has made it impossible for you to stay. If that happens the law says you were constructively dismissed. At Hillary Cooper Law we know the law on constructive dismissal and, where that has happened or you feel like you’re being pushed out, we can make sure you know your rights and can help you obtain rightful compensation.

Constructive Dismissal is a slightly different procedure, as it is you, the employee that has left the contract of employment as a result of a fundamental breach by the employer. In these cases, the courts will assess the behaviour from the employer to assess if this amounts to a breach of your contract of employment. Such breaches in these matters are often of an implied term of a contract between an employer and his employee. This is a term that is not expressly written within your contract, but is so obvious as to be implied given the employer and employee relationship. In constructive dismissal matters, each case is dependent on the facts and the effect it has on the employee.

Discrimination in the workplace

Everyone deserves equality of opportunity in the workplace. Your effort and contribution should decide how you get on at work. Employers are not permitted to treat you unfavourably because of an irrelevant factor. That is called discrimination. At Hillary Cooper Law we know how the law protects people with certain characteristics. We know the purpose is to level the playing field so everyone gets a fair go. The protected characteristics touch on us all in one way or another. We all have a sex, a race and an age. Many of us have a religion. Or a disability. We may be pregnant. Or LGBT.

Employers should not treat you unfavourably because of one of these characteristics. If you are dismissed because you possess one of these characteristics that is automatically treated as an unfair dismissal by the Employment Tribunal and you will be entitled to compensation. Employers will say it was not because of your characteristic and give some other reason. At Hillary Cooper Law we can see through that. And we know how the law sees through that. We can help you hold your employer to account. And between us we can contribute to making ours a fairer society.

For employers

Board and shareholder disputes

Business needs to be doing business. When it’s not money’s going out but money is not coming in. At Hillary Cooper Law we know that’s untenable. We can help you make sure that never happens. If the nightmare has struck we can help bring it to an end quickly. Board and shareholder disputes can be emotive. The solution is not. All businesses must have clear rules of governance. We can help you draft those rules or, if a dispute has happened, we can help you navigate out of it. We can give you confidence that your business will function and find business solutions to business problems.

Employment contracts, policies and procedures

Every workplace has to function. That happens best when everyone knows their rights and responsibilities. As an employer you have a legal relationship with each of your staff individually and with the workforce as whole. Getting the individual employment contracts right means your employees knows what’s expected and what to expect back. Likewise, with your policies and procedures. At Hillary Cooper Law we can take the burden off your shoulders and help you deliver a clear and lawful workplace. So staff can get on with the job. And you can get on with yours.

Disciplinary and grievance procedures

Disputes happen. It’s best for business if you have procedures laid down for airing and settling disputes. Disciplinary and grievance procedures provide you with the platforms to do so. Where conduct or performance is not up to scratch, a written disciplinary procedure provides everyone with clarity and ensures procedural fairness. Likewise, if staff think there’s a problem, providing a forum within which they can raise a grievance allows you to get to the route of the problem and deal with it. Disciplinary and grievance procedures must meet certain minimum standards. If they do not, employers can fall foul of the law. It can also mean penalties at the Employment Tribunal. At Hillary Cooper Law we can draft your disciplinary and grievance procedures. Or we can review and advise. We can advise you on applying the procedures in particular cases and on how to make sure any action you take is legally secure.

Employment disputes and tribunals

Where staff are disgruntled about treatment in the workplace or believe you acted unfairly in dismissing them they can make a claim for compensation to the Employment Tribunal. You could find yourself defending an allegation of discrimination, or victimisation, or breach of contract, or unfair dismissal. Each is decided on questions of law, fact and evidence and are potentially very expensive to defend. And if you can’t defend it, also very expensive in compensation payments. At Hillary Cooper Law we have an employment law team that is highly experienced in claims in the Employment Tribunal. If you consult our team we can help you ensure claims do not get made against you or your firm. If you’ve been notified of a claim we can advise you on the merits and help you mount the defence that will save you tens-of-thousands in compensation. It’s worth having an expert in your corner.


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