Help and Advice

Information and advice on contracts and pay, national insurance and tax, and your employment rights.

For most people work goes relatively smoothly most of the time. But many people do have problems at work occasionally. These could include things like:

  • Not being paid the right amount
  • Your employer not keeping to your contract
  • Falling into a dispute with your employer
  • Disciplinary procedures, or even getting sacked.

The law provides some procedures which must be followed, and where there are no specific laws, there are are guidelines and principles that should be observed.

Problems with pay and conditions

If you think your employer is not paying you correctly, or is not keeping to other terms of your contract, you should talk with them and try and resolve the problem. You can ask for written information and explanations.

Our page at http://www.leedsuniversityunion.org.uk/helpandadvice/employment/rights/ gives some information about pay and contracts and what you can do if your employer does not sort out the problem.

Disputes

If you have a dispute with your employer which cannot be resolved informally, they should have a grievance procedure which sets out how this should be dealt with, or at least a written statement saying who you should contact to put things right.  Such  disputes could involve:

  • your terms of employment
  • your pay and working conditions
  • disagreements with co-workers
  • discrimination 
  • not getting your statutory employment rights

This procedure will normally involve writing to your employer to formally raise the issue, the opportunity to meet with your employer, and an appeals process.

When you write to your employer you should make sure you are aware of what your rights are, and explain clearly how you feel these have not been kept. It is important to seek advice if you are not sure. You should also explain how you feel the problem should be put right. Keep a copy of your letter.

Your employer should arrange a meeting to discuss the grievance. This meeting should aim to find out the facts and find a solution. You may find it useful to write down what you want to say so that you remember.

You have a legal right to bring either a colleague or a Trade Union Representative to this meeting, and you can ask your employer if they will allow you to bring someone else, but they do not have to agree. This person can help you present your case, but cannot answer questions for you. You must request to excercise this right before the meeting.

Your employer should write to you after the meeting with a decision. If your employer feels they need more information they are allowed to postpone the meeting to get this.

ACAS provide a useful leaflet which can be downloaded from http://www.acas.org.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=1043

If your grievance cannot be resolved seek advice from the your Trade Union (if you are a member) or the Student Advice Centre, as you may be able to take further legal action. We can give you initial advice and help you find further help as necessary.

Disciplinary Procedures

A good employer will have a clear policy on how disciplinary matters are handled. A disciplinary is how your employer raises problems with you. These could include:

  • poor performance,
  • unauthorised absence,
  • theft or inappropriate use of facilities (such as the internet),
  • or problems with behaviour such as refusing to work, or being at work drunk.

If the problem is minor, your employer may raise these informally at first, but they do not have to do this, and they can go directly to their formal procedure.

ACAS also produce a guide to disciplinary procedures at http://www.acas.org.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=1043

The procedure is likely to include a letter from your employer, a meeting, and a chance to appeal.

The letter should clearly explain the problem. Your employer should arrange a meeting to discuss the disciplinary. This meeting should aim to find out the facts and find a solution. You may find it useful to write down what you want to say so that you remember.

You have a legal right to bring either a colleague or a Trade Union Representative to this meeting, and you can ask your employer if they will allow you to bring someone else, but they do to have to agree. This person can help you present your case, but cannot answer questions for you. You must request to exercise this right before the meeting.

Your employer should write to you after the meeting with a decision. If your employer feels they need more information they are allowed to postpone the meeting to get this.

Your employer may suspend you from work while the disciplinary is taking place. Unless your contract allows this, and it is reasonable this suspension should be on full pay. You may be asked not to contact other employees during your suspension. If this would prevent you from getting help or information you should appeal this.

If you feel that your employer is not following their procedures you can raise a grievance, and if your employer does not resolve the problem this can also help an appeal.

If you are not happy the results and this cannot be resolved seek advice from your Trade Union (if you are a member) the Student Advice Centre, as you may be able to take further legal action. We can give you initial advice and help you find further help as necessary.

When your employer ends your employment

Your employer may decide to end your employment for a number of reasons. You have some rights to make sure these are fair.

Your employer could end your employment because:

  • they have decided to end your employment as a result of a disciplinary procedure (described above)
  • your contract has ended or you are made redundant

If your contract ends your employer can end your job in line with the dates on your contract. If they want to end your job before the end of your contract, or if your contract does not have a fixed end date then there are certain procedures they should follow. Your employer should notify you and discuss any other options. If they do not this could be unfair dismissal. You are also entitled to some statutory redundancy pay.

You can find more information about redundancy at https://www.gov.uk/redundant-your-rights

Your employment could also end because you feel that your employer has breached your rights so badly that you cannot continue working for them. This is called ‘constructive dismissal’

If you think that you have been dismissed unfairly, or that your employer has breached your contract so badly that you could not reasonably be expected to continue working you should seek advice from your Trade Union (if you are a member) the Student Advice Centre, as you may be able to take further legal action. We do not do this area of casework, but we can help you find someone who can.

Employment Tribunals

Serious problems at work that cannot be resolved are dealt with by employment tribunals. This is a legal method for dealing with problems or disputes in employment. Though they are less formal than a court they are still legally binding.

Some information about this process is at http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Employment/ResolvingWorkplaceDisputes/Employmenttribunals/index.htm

We advise getting advice if you are unsure of your rights and how to deal with problems, as employment law  can be very complex and there are often strict time limits.

A range of fact sheets about dealing with problems at work are available from the TUC website:

http://www.worksmart.org.uk/rights

We make every effort to ensure information on these pages is accurate and up to date, however policies, procedures and regulations are subject to change. We therefore cannot accept responsibility for any loss, damage or inconvenience suffered as a result of using our pages. Read the full disclaimer.

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