Employment Law

Employment Law in the UK

Employment Law covers a vast area and is there to protect both employers and their employees. There are many statutory requirements in Employment Law of which employers must comply with to prevent employment tribunal claims.

Employment Tribunals in England and Scotland
Employment Tribunals in the Isle of man, Jersey and Guernsey
Employment Tribunals in Northern Ireland
Annual leave and Sickness Absence
Dismissal and Unfair Dismissal

Employment Tribunals in England, Wales and Scotland

The history of the United Kingdom has led to the development of a number of distinct legal systems. England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man: each has its own legal system. You will often hear reference to the English legal system. To be technically accurate, what is meant by this is the legal system of England and Wales.

In short, England and Wales have a common legal system; Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man each has a separate legal systems. However, with regard to employment tribunals, England, Wales and Scotland have the same system.

This guide will take you through the main elements of taking a case to an employment tribunal. It won’t make you into an expert employment lawyer. It is a guide only and is not meant as a substitute for the expert advice available from a trade union, employment lawyer or the other advisory sources mentioned below.

We’ll start off with the system prevailing in England, Wales and Scotland; we’ll then move west to the Northern Irish system and finish with a tour of the islands for the systems of the Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

This guide will adopt the assumption that you are taking a case to an employment tribunal and will represent yourself. Although employment tribunals hold formal hearings, they are designed for people to represent themselves.  That does not mean that you should not seek advice and representation – if possible – from someone who is an expert in this area of law. If you do decide to seek advice, that does not render this guide irrelevant; indeed, far from it.

Because you should seek advice if at all possible, we will begin with a brief overview of the sources of advice that may be open to you.

Sources of Advice
Just a note here on the difference between getting advice and being represented. Advice means help with preparing your case, but ultimately the preparation of the case is down to you. Representation goes further than this. Your representative will prepare your case for you and all correspondence connected with the case will go through him.

Legal Aid.
The first thing to point out here is that in employment cases legal aid is usually not available. There is one exception and that is where your case involves your being discriminated against. So, for example, if you are being paid less than someone of the opposite sex who is doing an equivalent job to you and this lower pay is because of your sex: that is discriminatory conduct by your employer. It would not be discriminatory to pay you less because you are less qualified than your colleague.

Although legal aid is unavailable, you may be able to get a solicitor to take on your case on a no win no fee basis. If a solicitor takes your case on this basis, you pay a fee to her only if you win your case. However, this can be up to one third of what you are awarded in court.

Advice from a trade union.
The starting point for advice (and possible representation) has to be your trade union. I know not everyone is a trade union member. If you are and you are thinking of taking your employer to an employment tribunal, now is the time to avail yourself of the advantages provided by the payment of all those union dues that you have made.

If you work in a reasonable sized company, you may well have a union representative that works alongside you. Go and have a chat with her immediately. More than likely you have been in discussions with her for some time because going to a tribunal is the last resort. Your union representative will have access to further advice from the union itself.

If you do not have an on-site union representative, contact your union at the first opportunity. A word of advice here, try to ensure that you get one person who will deal with your case; there are few things more frustrating or time consuming than having to explain things over again to a new person. Also, by keeping the same person that person becomes intimately acquainted with your case.

Advice from Citizens Advice Bureau.
If you are not in a union –and even if you are – there are other sources of advice regarding employment law. The Citizens Advice Bureau are very good. They have a very good website and you can go and visit them and get advice in person.

The Free Representation Unit.
This is a charity that can provide help in preparing you case and representing you at a tribunal.The FRU website gives you plenty of information. Note, however, that your case has to be referred to the FRU after it has commenced and that the FRU operates in London and Nottingham.

Law Centres.
There are 54 law centres spread across the country. They offer advice to people who cannot afford the services of a lawyer. However, Law Centres tend to specialise in social welfare law.

Acas.
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Services may be able to offer you free confidential advice on all aspects of employment law.

LawWorks.
This is a solicitors’ pro bono charitable group. Legal help may be available. The Latin phrase pro bono means that the legal services are provided free for the public good.

The Equality Advisory Support Service.
This organisation may be able to provide help where your case involves discrimination.

For other possible sources of advice visit the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Starting Your Claim
Before starting your claim you may wish to consider if there is any way that you can avoid going to a tribunal. Consider going to a tribunal as the absolute last resort. It is certainly worth your while contacting ACAS to see what help may be available. After you have made your claim, someone from ACAS may contact you to see if they can help.

Another consideration for you is judicial mediation. This is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), which is an alternative to going to court or a tribunal. If you case is suitable, judicial mediation may be offered to you.

If it comes to the last resort, the procedure for starting your case is relatively straightforward. The first thing to do is to check that an employment tribunal is able to deal you’re your case. You do this by checking the jurisdiction list. As you will see from the list employment tribunals deal with a wide range of cases not just redundancy, unfair dismissal and discrimination cases. If you are not sure whether your case is covered and need advice contact ACAS on: 0845 747 4747.

It is very important to note that most claims must be brought within three months of your employment ending or within three months of the occurrence of what you are claiming for.

You can start your claim online or you can fill in a paper claim form (an ET1 form) and post it to:

For England and Wales:
Employment Tribunal Central Office (England and Wales)
PO Box 10218
Leicester
LE1 8EG.

For Scotland:
Employment Tribunals Central Office (Scotland)
PO Box 27105
Glasgow
G2 9JR.

Before making your claim read Booklet T420 – “Making a claim to an Employment Tribunal“. There are quite a number of booklets that you will come across which can be quite confusing. If you require help with anything relating to the information provided in the booklet call this number: 0845 795 9775.

You will have to pay a fee and the fee you pay depends on the type of case. There are two types of case; type A and type B, and there are also two types of fee; an Issue Fee and a Hearing Fee.
The current fees are as follows:

Issue Fee Hearing Fee
Type A Case £160 £250
Type B Case £250 £950

Type A claims would involves cases such as unpaid wages, redundancy pay and breach on contract. Type B claims consist of more complex cases such as unfair dismissal, equal pay and discrimination.

A few key points to take note of here:

  1. Fees are always subject to change so check for the most up to date fees in Booklet T435 – Employment Tribunal Fees.
  2. The jurisdiction list will tell you whether your case is Type A or B.
  3. The Issue Fee is paid when you make your claim online or by post.
  4. The Hearing Fee is paid when you receive a ‘Notice to Pay’.
  5. Fee remissions may be available. Booklet EX160A – “Court and Tribunal Fees – Do I have to pay them?” has details.

Fee remissions. There is a means test to qualify for a fee remission. The means test has two parts. One part of the test measures your capital and the other your income. You have to pass both parts of the test. Leaflet EX160A has the detail. State benefits are also taken into account. Fee remission can be full or partial.

After You Have Made Your Claim: What Happens Next?
Your employer has 28 days to respond to your claim. Should they fail to respond, the tribunal may decide your case without your having to attend. If your employer responds, then your case will go to a hearing. There may be a preliminary meeting (sometimes called a case management discussion) before the case itself where a judge will make decisions about various matters that may need sorting out.

The Hearing
Two useful leaflets are T424 – The hearing – guidance for claimants and T425 – The hearing – guidance for claimants and respondent.

At the hearing (known as the final hearing) you, the person bringing the case, will be known as the Claimant and your employer will be known as the Respondent.

Each tribunal office has a customer service officer who will usually be able to arrange for you to visit the tribunal to watch a case to help you prepare for yours.

Hearings are usually heard before a judge and two lay-members. Lay members are not legally qualified but will have employment experience. For example, they may have management or trade union experience.

Both sides can bring witnesses. You should let the tribunal know in advance how many witnesses you intend to bring. You are responsible for ensuring your witnesses attend. You can ask the tribunal to issue what is known as a witness order. This compels the attendance of a witness. If you need to do this you need to apply in writing in advance to the tribunal.

Witnesses can provide written statements. However, sometimes attendance in person is preferable, especially if what your witnesses have to say is likely to be challenged.

Witnesses are not usually paid for their attendance. The exception to this is where the witness is giving medical evidence. It is usual for you to arrange to pay your witnesses for any expenses they incur due to their attendance.

The procedure in the tribunal will be less formal than an ordinary court. The tribunal panel will be used to people representing themselves. You may find these guidance videos useful. You will usually give your evidence first. The exception to this is in unfair dismissal cases.

At the end of the hearing a judgement will be made. The judgement is usually made on the day of the hearing. You can request that the judgement is supplied to you in writing, which will include the reasons why the decision was made.

If you win your case you may be awarded compensation. If you are claiming compensation you will have an opportunity to state to the tribunal exactly how much you are claiming. The amount of compensation will vary with the type of case, your age, length of service and salary. The employer may also be ordered to pay your tribunal fees.

If your employer does not pay you the compensation awarded you may need to make an application to enforce the award; full guidance can be found in booklet EX329 “general guidance on enforcement procedure” and booklet EX727 “I have an Employment or an Employment Appeal Tribunal award but the respondent has not paid”.

In unfair dismissal cases the tribunal has other remedies at its disposal. It can for example order that you are reinstated or re-engaged. A reinstatement order means that you are taken back in your previous role. A re-engagement order means that you are taken back in a comparable role to your previous one. Before making one of these orders the tribunal will take into account:

  • Whether you want one of these orders to be made
  • Whether it is practical for your employer to comply with one of these orders
  • Whether your conduct contributed to your dismissal

If your employer refuses to take you back after the tribunal has made a reinstatement or re-engagement order, you may get an enhanced level of compensation.

Costs
The court may order that costs and fees are to be paid in addition to the sum owed, plus accrued interest from either date the compensation is to be paid by  (if one was agreed) or from the date the settlement was reached if no pay-by date was agreed.

Appeals
If you are not happy with the outcome, it may be possible to appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT). Booklet T426, “The Judgement” and T440 “I want to appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal” have more details. There are two grounds for making an appeal:

  • where the tribunal has made a mistake in how it has applied the law
  • where the decision made is one that no reasonable tribunal could have made

An appeal must be made within 42 days of either the date that the decision was sent to you or the date that the reasons for the decision were sent to you. Appeals are sent to:
The Employment Appeal Tribunal
Second Floor
Fleetbank House
2-6 Salisbury Square
London
EC4 8JX.

Currently an appeal costs £400. If the appeal involves a full rehearing of the case there is a fee of an extra £1200 (Up to date information on fees can be found in booklet T437 “Employment Appeal Tribunal fees”).

An alternative to making an appeal is to ask the tribunal to reconsider its judgement. LeafletT426 “The Judgement” has more detail on this. You can ask at the end of the hearing for a reconsideration or in writing within 14 days of the judgement being made.  The tribunal itself may take the initiative and reconsider a judgement. After reconsideration, a judgement may be confirmed, varied or revoked (cancelled). The fee for reconsideration is £100 for type A cases and £350 for type B. Reconsiderations are made only where it is in the interests of justice to make such a reconsideration.

Information for Employers
If you are notified that an employee intends to take you to an employment tribunal you must respond to the claim within 28 days. You can request an extension to this deadline. The key thing is: do not fail to respond. You can respond online or by making a paper based response.

There are some alternatives that you might want to consider in order to avoid going to an employment tribunal. You may be contacted by ACAS to see if they can help solve the dispute. Alternatively, you can telephone ACAS on 08457 474 747.  A second option is to look at the possibility of engaging a mediator.  Thirdly, you could consider entering into a settlement agreement with your employee, or ex-employee.  Under a settlement agreement, you agree to provide compensation in return for the employee dropping the case.  It is absolutely essential that an employee does not enter into such an agreement without first receiving legal advice. The agreement will contain a clause to the effect that the employee confirms that legal advice has been taken.

For the hearing.
You’ll get at least 14 days’ notice of the hearing. There may be a preliminary hearing before the hearing itself, you will be advised about this accordingly. If you require documents from the employee, he or she must be given at least 7 days’ notice. When you attend the hearing, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you have copies of documents for all participants. Unless advised otherwise, take at least six copies of all documents with you. The tribunal will require you to provide information at the hearing of any pension scheme to which the employee belongs.

Remedies.
If the employee wins an unfair dismissal case against you, the tribunal may order that he or she is reinstated (returned to her old job) or re-engaged (employed in a new but comparable position). You may regard one or both of these as impractical. If so you must provide the tribunal with evidence as to why this is your view. If your evidence is accepted, you will be probably have to pay an enhanced amount of compensation.

Witnesses.
It is your responsibility to organise witnesses and their costs are payable by you. If necessary you can ask the tribunal to issue an order compelling attendance. If you do need a tribunal order, apply as soon as possible.

Finances.
At an employment tribunal it is usually the case that even if you win you will receive no compensation from the employee and you will be unable to claim any expenses.

If you lose the case you may have to pay compensation to the employee. There are limits on the amount that will be awarded. The limits vary with the type of case, the age of the employee, his or her salary and how long he or she was employed by you. If you do not pay the compensation within 14 days you will be charged interest. You may be required to pay back any state benefits that have been claimed by the employee leading up to the hearing.

Employment Tribunals in the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey

Each of these islands has its own legal system with its own system of courts and tribunals. There may well be overlaps and similarities however.

Isle of Man

In the Isle of Man, The Manx Industrial Relations Service may be a useful source of advice. The Tribunal Service publishes its own comprehensive guidance booklet. You can also contact the Clerk of the Tribunal at this address:

Clerk to the Employment Tribunal
Isle of Man Courts of Justice
Deemsters Walk
Bucks Road
Douglas
Isle of Man
IM1 3AR
Telephone: +44 1624 685941
Email: Send Email

The Isle of Man’s Government website has everything you will need to start your claim.

Your Claim
Use this form to start your claim. The address to which you should return the form is on the claim form. Before making a claim, ensure that your case is one that the tribunal has the power to hear by checking the jurisdiction list. It is important to note that in most cases, a claim must be brought within three months of your employment ending or within three months of the matter arising of which you are complaining. There may be variations to this three month period. More information is available in booklet “Guide to the Isle of Man Employment Tribunal”. This booklet will also take you through, step by step, the procedure of a tribunal. In particular, for more information on making and responding to a claim see pages 9-13.

The Hearing
In common with tribunals in other United Kingdom legal systems there may be a pre-hearing held to determine matters prior to a full hearing and decisions made at the full hearing may be reviewed. Sections 5, 6 and 7 of the guide deal with hearings.

Remedies
Again, in common with other UK tribunal systems, the remedies available to a tribunal are compensation, reinstatement to a previous job or re-engagement to a comparable position. See section 6.6 and section 10 of the guide for more information. In unfair dismissal cases there may be factors that increase the amount of compensation. Click here for additional advice.
Costs are not usually awarded to a party who wins. Section 8 of the guide offers some detail.

Appeals
Appeals can be made only on points of law and must be made within 42 days of the judgement.

See section 9 of the guide for circumstances under which a tribunal may review its decisions.

Information for Employers
If your employee is claiming against you, you will be the Respondent in the case. You must reply to the claim within 28 days. You can ask for an extension. See sections 24-34 of this booklet for advice.

Conciliation
Whether you are an employer or an employee, it may well be worth your avoiding going to a tribunal. See sections 35-40 of this booklet for information about conciliation.

Jersey

In common the other UK legal systems, Jersey has its own system of employment tribunals.

Your Claim
Use form JET1 available on this page to make your application and return it to the address at the top of the form. There is also a guidance document that can be downloaded from the same page that will help you with filling in the form and making a claim.
For both employees and employers the User’s Guide and Jersey Employment Tribunal Procedures, available here, will prove very useful.
Costs are not usually awarded.
Appeals are available only on points of law, see the User’s Guide.

Information for Employers
The leaflet Responding to a Claim, available on this page, offers advice on how you should respond if your employee makes a claim against you. Note that you have 21 days to make a response. Use JET2, available on the same page, to make your response.

Guernsey

Guernsey’s tribunal system has are a large number of similarities with the tribunal systems of other UK legal systems. To make a claim use form ET1; to respond to a claim use form ET2.  The addresses to send these forms to are printed on the forms. There are guidance documents for making a claim and responding to a claim available. A document giving useful general guidance is available here.

You will find the website of the Guernsey Employment and discrimination tribunal here.

Industrial Tribunals and the Fair Employment Tribunal in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland there are two distinct tribunals that deal with employment matters. Industrial tribunals deal with all employment matters apart from disputes involving allegations of discrimination on the grounds of religious belief or political opinion, which are dealt with by the fair employment tribunal.  The procedure for bringing claims is similar for both tribunals. Any differences will be noted in the text below.

Sources of Advice
The sources of advice that are open to you are similar as for England and Wales, especially in the case of trades unions and Citizens Advice Bureau.

Two further sources of advice in Northern Ireland are the Labour Relations Agency and, where your claim relates to equality issues, like equal pay and sex discrimination, the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

Legal aid may be available, depending upon your financial circumstances. Look at the information provided by the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission.

Employers and employees will find this booklet very useful.

Starting Your Claim
The first thing to do is to check that your case is one that the industrial tribunal is able to hear. You do this by checking the jurisdiction list, which is available as a word document on this page.  A second important preliminary matter is to ensure that you make your claim within the time limits allowed. Different cases have different time limits so make sure you check the time limit on your particular claim.

You can make an online claim. If you would rather maker a paper based claim, forms are available from:  Office of the Industrial Tribunals and the Fair Employment Tribunal, Killymeal House, 2 Cromac Quay, Belfast, BT7 2JD. You can telephone the office on: (028) 9032 7666. A PDF version of the claim form ET1 (NI) is available here and guidance notes here. Whether you make your claim on line or by post, make sure that you complete in full the details requested on the claim form.

You may represent yourself at the tribunal.  If you choose to be represented you must name your representative on your claim form. Your representative, of course, will be able to assist you in completing your claim form. It’s very important to be aware that once you have chosen to be represented all correspondence concerning your case will be forwarded to your representative. Thus it is your responsibility to ensure that your representative keeps you up to date with how your claim is progressing.

Once your claim is processed you, or your representative, will receive an acknowledgement to this effect and the respondent will be informed and given a deadline by which to respond. You will receive a copy of this response.

Any correspondence that you, or your representative, need to make about your claim should be done through the Office of Tribunals.

At any time before your hearing takes place you can withdraw your claim; you must, however, let the Office of Tribunals know in writing that you wish to withdraw.

The Hearing
In tribunal cases the person making the claim is the claimant and the person against whom the claim is made is called the respondent. You will both receive a Notice of Hearing at least 14 days before the hearing date.  If you wish to get the hearing postponed you should do this without delay, give reasons why you wish to postpone and attempt to get the other party to agree to postpone.

Prior to the hearing itself, there may be held a case management discussion and a pre-hearing review. A case management discussion is held to clarify such issues as making orders for documents and witness statements and the length of time required for the hearing. These are usually public, but may be held in private or by telephone.

A pre-hearing review is held, essentially, to decide whether the case is one that should proceed to a full hearing. Again it is usually held in public but may be conducted by telephone. You may be required to have witnesses available to attend a pre-hearing review.

The hearing itself is conducted by a legally qualified chair and two laypeople. It is at the hearing where your claim is decided and, if you succeed, what remedy you are awarded. If you are unhappy with the outcome you can ask for a review. You may do this orally at the end of the hearing or in writing within 14 days of the date that the decision was sent to you by the Office of Tribunals.

You can call witnesses to give evidence on your behalf. It is your responsibility to get witnesses to attend. Should your witnesses refuse to attend, you can ask for an order compelling them so to attend. You must do this by writing to the tribunal at least 10 days before the hearing.

It is your responsibility to ensure that documents that are required from witnesses or the respondent are obtained. You may request  in writing at least 10 days prior to the hearing that the tribunal issues an order compelling the production of any documents required. You must specify exactly what it is that you require.

The procedure at the hearing will be less formal than a normal court hearing. The tribunal will decide the order in which evidence is given. You can give evidence; question your witnesses and question the other side’s witnesses. Tribunal members may also ask questions.

In accordance with the principle of open justice, tribunal cases may be reported by the media. However, where a case involves alleged sexual harassment or sexual misconduct, the tribunal may impose reporting restrictions.

If you are relying on documents as part of your evidence you are recommended to bring with you at least five copies so that all parties involved will have access to these documents.

Where you are seeking compensation the court will expect you to have taken reasonable steps to have reduced any loss that you have suffered, for example, by looking for another job.

If you have been unfairly dismissed the tribunal has the power to order that you are reinstated or re-engaged. A reinstatement order means that you are taken back in your previous role. A re-engagement order means that you are taken back in a comparable role to your previous one. The tribunal will listen to evidence from you and the respondent as to whether one of these orders is appropriate. Respondents who are not ready to give evidence as to why a claimant should not be reinstated or re-engaged any be required to pay the costs of any postponement to the hearing.

Decisions will often be delivered orally at the conclusion of the hearing, in which case, if you want the reasons for the decision in writing, you must make a request either at the hearing or in writing within 14 days of the decision being sent to you. The tribunal may wish to reserve judgement until a later date when it will be delivered in writing.

Costs
Costs are often referred to as expenses. The usual rule is that the parties pay their own costs.  The exceptions to this are where the tribunal considers that one of the parties has acted unreasonably, or when one of the parties suffers loss because the hearing is postponed at the others request.

There are certain allowances that you may be able to claim from the public purse. This document gives you the details. If you want to claim, get a claim form from the tribunal’s Clerk when you attend for your hearing. You must make your claim as quickly as possible and at the outside within a calendar month of your hearing’s conclusion.  You cannot claim for your representative, unless he or she is from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

If you win your case, you may also be entitled to a preparation time order where you are not legally represented. Essentially, this is compensation for the time you have taken in preparing your case.

Appeals and Reviews
Both parties have a right to appeal. However, appeals can be made only on points of law. Effectively, you will be saying that the tribunal got the law wrong. Whilst this is not impossible it is unusual. You have six weeks from the date that the decision was sent to you to make your appeal. Appeals lie (go to) the court of Appeal.

A tribunal may also review a decision. If a decision is reviewed, a tribunal may affirm, change or revoke its decision. You may orally ask for a review at the conclusion of the hearing. Alternatively, you have 14 days from the date that the decision was sent to you to request a review in writing. Requests are made to the Office of the Tribunals.

Grounds for review are quite narrow. It is not enough that you simply disagree with the decision.  You can see here the grounds upon which a review may be made.

Information for Employers
If you are an employer who has a claim made against you by an employee you will be the respondent in the case. Your employee will be the claimant. You will find this booklet very useful.

If a claim is made against you will receive from the Secretary of the Tribunals a copy of this claim. You will also be advised how to present your response and the time limit by which you must produce this response.

Your response is made to the Office of the Tribunals. (The address is: Killymeal House, 2 Cromac Quay, Belfast, BT7 2JD. You can telephone the office on: (028) 9032 7666.) You have 28 days from the date the copy of the claim was sent to you to make your response. You can ask for an extension to this deadline. A request for a deadline extension is made to the same office within the same 28 day limit. You may respond to a claim online. Make sure you follow theguidance notes in full.  Copy of the response form as a PDF document is here.

This is important: if you fail to respond to a claim, or if you fail to respond within the time limit, or if you fail to follow the guidance notes exactly a default judgement may be entered against you. You may have the strongest case imaginable but if you fail to respond, respond late or respond incorrectly you will be unable to defend the claim.

If the case goes to a hearing, as described above, you may represent yourself or be represented by another. If you are going to be represented, you must name your representative on your response form. Where you are being represented all correspondence will go through your representative.

See above for information about the hearing, costs, appeals and reviews. There is just one point to emphasize about remedies that might be awarded to the claimant where he or she is found to have been unfairly dismissed. The tribunal may order that you reinstate her (give her back her old job) or re-engage her (provide her with a comparable job). There may well be very compelling reasons why neither option is a practical one. If so, you will be expected to explain this and offer some evidence as to why it is not practical. You may wish to obtain legal advice on this point.

If a default judgement is entered against you, you may ask for it to be reviewed within 14 days of the default judgement being sent to you. You must give reasons for the review and why you failed to respond or meet the time limit for a response. As with any request for a review, the tribunal may affirm, vary or revoke its decision.

Conciliation
Whether you are a claimant employee or a respondent employer you should view a tribunal hearing as a last resort. Conciliation may be something that you might consider. In most cases, the Labour Relations Agency (LRA) is automatically sent papers about claims. The services of this body are free but not compulsory.

The claim may have a fixed period of conciliation, about which you will be informed by letter. This means that during this period you can use the LRA’s services to help you reach a settlement. If there is no fixed period for conciliation, you may use the LRA’s services up to the date of the hearing.

Annual Leave and Sickness Absence

What is the legal minimum number of holidays I am entitled to in a year?

  • The statutory leave entitlement for full time employees is 5.6 weeks paid holiday per year.
  • If you work a 5 day week (as most full time workers do) this works out at 28 days per year (5 days x 5.6 weeks).
  • This entitlement includes bank holidays.
  • Self-employed workers are not entitled to annual leave.

What if I work part time?

Part-time workers are also entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid holiday per year (which includes bank holidays) but those weeks are likely to be shorter, or fewer hours. For example, if you work 2 days per week then you multiply 2 days x 5.6 weeks, so you would be entitled to 11.2 days of paid leave per year.

How do I work out my entitlement if I work irregular hours?

If you work irregular hours you are still entitled to the statutory minimum of 5.6 weeks per year. The best way to calculate your legal entitlement based on your specific hours is to use thecalculator provided by .Gov.UK.
This calculator can take into account the days or hours you work per week, casual or irregular hours, annualised holidays, compressed hours and shifts.

I work 6 days per week, so do I get more than 5.6 weeks per year as paid holiday?

No. The maximum statutory paid holiday entitlement is 28 days, so you do not multiple 5.6 weeks by 6 days – it is still based on a 5 day week.

I work most bank holidays – how does this work?

Although statutory paid holiday leave is limited to 28 days including the 8 bank holidays we have per year in the UK, your employer does not have to specifically give these to you as paid leave on the actual bank holiday days – instead they can make up part of your statutory annual leave. So for example if you work 4 of the 8 annual bank holidays, you are free to take the remaining 4 bank holidays days any other time that suits your employer.

I get extra days if I complete 2 years’ service so how do I work this out?

Your employer must grant your statutory leave immediately but can choose to offer more than this at any time, i.e. after a specific length of service. Any extra days granted will be additional to the statutory 28 days per year. If you are part time the extra days may be on a pro-rata basis though this is something that should be laid out in your contract of employment or company’s handbook.

If I am on long term sick do I still accrue holidays as per my usual full time 5 day week?

Yes, you still build up holiday entitlement while off work sick.

What if I don’t use all of my holiday entitlement because I’ve been off sick?

Even if your employer has a policy not to allow holidays to be carried over, if sickness has prevented you from taking all of your accrued statutory annual leave you can carry it over to the next holiday year.

Can I use my holidays instead of taking sick leave?

Your employer should not request that you do this, however at their discretion they may allow you to if you choose to do so. Factors may be taken into account such as whether you qualify for sick pay or not, or if you have previously had high levels of sickness.

I may be taking maternity leave soon, and my partner may take paternity leave; will we still accrue our holiday entitlement?

Yes, you still accrue holiday entitlement whilst on maternity leave, paternity leave and also adoption leave.

Do I need a sick note if I am off sick?

Sick notes are now referred to as fit notes and can be obtained from your GP or a hospital doctor. You must provide your employer with a fit note if you have been off sick for more than 7 days in a row and this includes days you would not normally work, i.e. the weekend.

Do I have to pay for a fit note (sick note)?

You will not be charged a fee if you have been off sick for more than 7 days, however may be charged a fee if you request a fit note before 7 days.

What do I do once I have been given a fit note (sick note)?

A copy of the fit note must be sent to your employer. As the employee, you should keep the original. If your employer insists on seeing the original they must take a copy and return the original to you.

What does the fit note (sick note) say?

The doctor will state that you are either ‘not fit for work’ or that you ‘may be fit for work’. Most are to prove the sickness so say ‘not fit for work’, however if your doctors thinks you ‘may be fit for work’ your employer is obliged to discuss with you possible ways to help you get back to work. This may involve a change to your job role, or fewer hours etc.

What if I am off for less than 7 days and don’t need to provide a fit note to prove my sickness?

Your employer will have their own policy on sickness lasting less than 7 days, however they should comply with the statutory sick pay regulations which state that employers should accept a self-certification from you for the first 7 days. Completion of this form may be done as part of a face to face meeting where you are given the opportunity to discuss your sickness.

What if I fall ill just before I am due to go on holiday?

If you are ill just before or during your holiday you can take sick leave instead of using your holiday entitlement, however you may not be paid if your company does not pay you sick pay and statutory sick pay rules would apply.

Do I get paid if I am off sick?

Normal pay for sick leave is at the discretion of your employer, but no employer is obliged by law to pay employees their usual rate of pay when they are off sick. However, all employees are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they are off ill for more than 4 days in a row (including non – working days). Visit the .Gov.UK website for up-to-date information and rates for SSP.

What if I am off work due to illness for a long time?

Sickness for more than 4 weeks may be deemed ‘long-term’ sick. Your employer is obliged to regularly consult you to help you get back to work. They may offer help from occupational therapists and should consider different working patterns or less stressful work if need be. Your employer may resort to dismissal during the period of long-term sick, however they should have considered other options (as above) first. If dismissed and you feel you have been treated unfairly, you can take the case to an employment tribunal.

Dismissal and Unfair Dismissal

What is dismissal?

Dismissal is where your employment is terminated by your employer, sometimes without notice.
UK employment law protects employees in that any claim against the employee must have been fully investigated prior to dismissal, and reasons for dismissal to be justified.
Employees must not single out employees and should be consistent in treating all employees the same.
Part time and temporary workers should be treated the same as full time workers.

Should I be given notice if I am dismissed?

Notice depends on the reason for your dismissal. In most cases of dismissal you should be given the notice period stated in your contract or the statutory minimum (whichever is longer). Dismissal for cases of gross misconduct will usually result in dismissal without notice.

Should I receive anything in writing?

If you have completed 2 years’ service (or 1 year if you started before the 6th April 2012) you have the right to ask for a written statement detailing the reason for your dismissal, and the statement should be supplied within 14 days of your request.

If you have been dismissed while on maternity leave your employer must automatically give you a written statement, regardless of how long you have been employed.

What grounds does my employer have to dismiss me fairly?

Under UK employment law there are many situations deemed reasonable and fair to warrant dismissal. For example:

Misconduct

Some examples of misconduct:

  • failure to abide by the general health and safety rules and procedures
  • consumption of alcohol on the premises
  • persistent absenteeism and/or lateness
  • unsatisfactory standards or output of work
  • rudeness towards customers or other employees
  • failure to carry out reasonable instructions or follow rules and procedures

In all cases of misconduct your employer should speak to you about the issue in question and give you the opportunity to improve. Employers should also allow employees access to their rules and procedures regarding disciplinary action and follow these rules to offer a fair hearing and prevent a case of unfair dismissal occurring.

Gross Misconduct

Some examples of gross misconduct:

  • theft or fraud
  • physical violence or bullying
  • deliberate damage to property
  • deliberate acts of unlawful discrimination or harassment
  • possession, or being under the influence of illegal drugs at work
  • breach of health and safety rules that endangers the lives of, or may cause serious injury to, another person.

In cases of gross misconduct dismissal can be instant with no previous warnings having taken place.

Illness

Your employer should always look for ways to support you if you have persistent long term illness. This may be in the form of an Employee Assistance Programme where Occupational Health services are normally available. However, if your illness makes it impossible for you to do your job it is possible that you could be dismissed.

If the long term illness is related to disability your employer is legally obliged to support disability in the workplace and dismissal due to disability could be unlawful discrimination. More information on supporting disability in the workplace can be found on .Gov.UK.

Redundancy

Providing the correct procedures are followed, redundancy is a fair form of dismissal.