Employment law is a specialist field for Aston Brooke Solicitors Ltd.

Our Head of Employment Law is KuldeepS. Clair, a senior solicitor with well over a decade of post-qualification experience in this particular area. This includes drafting of documentation, as well as representation/advocacy in courts and tribunals in high value claims.

We act for both employers and employees to provide cost-effective, pro-active advice, whether it relates to employment documentation, agreements, disputes, grievances, or tribunal claims.

For the employer…

If you are an employer, Aston Brooke prides itself on its understanding of the commercial realities of business, and employment law within business.

-Defending a tribunal claim
-Drafting employment contracts, handbooks, and HR documentation
-Disciplinary /grievance procedures for an employee
-Settlement (compromise) agreements
-Transfer of employer (TUPE) and out-sourcing
-Unfair dismissal claims
-Harassment, bullying, victimisation claims

Defending a tribunal/court claim

If one of your employees, or ex-employees, brings an employment claim against you, you will need to seek advice quickly to find out how to best deal with it.

You must respond within the given response period, usually 28 days. We can advise on your rights and prospects of successfully defending any claim. If you do not respond adequately within time, judgement may be eventually entered against you, and it is possible for this to be enforced in the civil courts.

It may be that the most sensible course is to try to reach a sensible settlement at an early stage, if there is a likelihood of some degree of liability on your part.

Defending a claim to the end on your own can be complicated, time-consuming, and tiresome. However, you may understandably want to take that course, particularly if we advise that you have a good defence, and you want to stand firm as a matter of principle. We can represent you, dealing with all the intermediate stages, leading to advocacy at the final hearing. Alternatively, you may prefer us to just provide advice on how you can deal with the case yourself.

You can find out more about the employment tribunal process at www.employmenttribunals.gov.uk

Drafting employment contracts, handbooks, and HR documentation

It is vital that your employees’ contracts and staff handbooks are thorough and up-to-date with contemporary employment law. You may believe that old documentation is effective, but the truth is that employment is one of the fastest developing areas of English law today, and your documentation may need to be renewed so that you are clear as to your basic liabilities.

If you require a new standard template of your employees’ contract, we can arrange this for you. Or you may wish to alter the standard terms of all existing employees as well. Whether proposed alterations are permissible depends upon the reasons and all the circumstances; we can advise further.

You may need advice on whether to include or extend a clause which restricts employees from what they can or cannot do after leaving your employment. This usually involves employees at a professional /executive level, and often covers setting up in business in competition with you, or working for a competing employer. Such clauses are known as ‘restrictive covenants’.

However, such a clause is only actually enforceable within strict limits and must be drafted very carefully, otherwise it will not be valid; it depends on the circumstances. We can advise on the drafting of such a covenant, what kind of covenant is likely to meet your needs, and how broadly it could be drafted.

Disciplinary / grievance procedures for an employee

All employers must have proper procedures in place for dealing with grievances and disciplinary processes. If you go to link to our article on this issues here, you can see the kind of steps that employers must take to ensure that everything has indeed been done properly, so that no scope exists for criticism before a tribunal.

In addition, the ACAS website at www.acas.org.uk provides useful information on generally accepted fair employment procedures, which, though not legally enforceable, will help to show that you have adopted the correct open spirit when faced with employment difficulties.

Allegations against an employee which are disputed should always be investigated properly. You should allow an employee to be accompanied to any disciplinary hearing by a colleague, although you do not usually have to allow a lawyer to accompany an employee. The employee should be allowed to put his/her case properly and there should be an internal appeal procedure as well.

Compromise agreements or settlement agreements

You may want an employee to leave and reach a swift amicable ending to the employment relationship, without the threat of being a tribunal claim hanging over you. You may be willing to pay the employee an agreed sum, more than the strict entitlement, and may require undertakings from the employee regarding confidentiality.

Entering into a compromise agreement or settlement agreement is the only way that you can do that which is valid and enforceable. We will draw up a properly worded compromise terms on terms most favourable to you, and it must be agreed with an authorised lawyer representing your employee, who also signs it.

It is important to realise that simply ‘paying off’ an employee, without entering into a proper agreement does not guarantee that he will not seek to make a claim against you in a tribunal a few months later. You can only do that by a settlement agreement.

Such an agreement are now known as a settlement agreements, although it is likely that the old term ‘compromise agreement’ will continue to be used for a while yet. The fundamental underlying principles remain the same.

Redundancy situations

Redundancy is where an employee is threatened because his/her job probably will not exist any longer, usually for an underlying economic reason.

It is possible for you to dismiss fairly on the ground of redundancy but only if:

-the circumstances fulfil the proper legal definition of redundancy
-a proper appropriate consultation exercise has been gone through

-there has been a fair selection process for redundancy, using transparent objective criteria for selecting those employees who are going to be made redundant.

Common selection criteria include the ‘last in, first out’ rule, or some kind of performance-based assessment. The circumstances of each situation are so wide-ranging that it is really just a matter of judgment to assess what criteria would probably make redundancy selection fair.

Even if the redundancy is fair, an employee is entitled to a statutory minimum redundancy payment as long as s/he has been employed for at least two years. The precise payment depends upon length of employment, age, and earnings, up to a maximum cap. It may be possible to negotiate an agreed amount of compensation through a compromise agreement or settlement agreement. (HYPERLINK to ‘Compromise agreements or settlement agreements’). By reaching such a proper voluntary compromise agreement which is accepted by the employee, you will be able to exclude any further legal proceedings.

Transfers of employer (TUPE) and out-sourcing

TUPE is a technical shorthand used by lawyers for situations in employment law where an employment relationship is transferred and taken over by another employer. This can be due to a takeover of the employer-company, or out-sourcing or in-sourcing of a particular service. The law itself is constantly being refined and is very technical.

TUPE only applies when the actual employer changes or is going to change. The legal position is that the employees basically retain the same rights as before, despite the change of employer, subject to certain exceptions. If you are the old employer, you will need to seek advice on your continuing liability to your former employees, and how you can indemnify yourself against that liability by wording your transfer agreement appropriately.

In a TUPE situation, employment law issues arise amongst a myriad of general commercial law issues, which are far too complicated to detail here, but we can advise on all these matters.

You may be in the position of a ‘new’ employer, who is seeking to change or ‘harmonise’ employment terms, relating to all employees, including those from the ‘old employer’ that you have just taken on. We can advise on whether you can do that, and whether employees may be obliged to accept any variations proposed. Every case depends upon its own circumstances.

You may wish to effectively make redundant some employees following a ‘TUPE’ transfer, where you have taken over an existing business. Can you do that legitimately without incurring severe liabilities for unfair dismissal? Again, there are no simple answers; we can advise further.

Unfair Dismissal claims

Unfair dismissal is of course the largest broad single category within the field of employment law. Certain grounds, categorised separately, are automatically unfair if an employee can proves one to be the reason for the dismissal. These include pregnancy, health and safety, and whistleblowing.

For the main general other grounds, a dismissal may still be unfair if you, as the employer, cannot establish the reason clearly, or you have not gone through a proper process of investigation. See also our separate article (HYPERLINK to ‘Article-discip issues’) on procedures in conduct/capability cases. These grounds are:

1 Conduct – you must investigate any alleged misconduct properly, not jump to conclusions without evidence, give the employee a proper chance to put his/her case, and offer an opportunity to appeal.

Minor misconduct does not warrant a dismissal for the first offence, and two or three warnings should be sufficient for offences committed within a couple of years.

Gross misconduct is more serious, and usually involves offences such as theft, fraud, assault, and a wilful refusal to obey reasonable instructions. An immediate dismissal may be justified if the procedures are gone through properly. We can advise on what you need to do ensure that your procedures have been fair, in order to avoid an expensive claim for unfair dismissal.

2 Capability – this is where an employee is alleged not to be able to do his/her job due to a lack of skill, ability, aptitude, or physical/mental ability.

You should always go through a systematic process before taking the drastic step of dismissal on this ground. There should be clear objective evidence of a lack of performance over time. You should be given the opportunity to improve, with clear objectives, and adequate coaching/training being made available.

If the alleged incapacity has a medical/physical origin, you need to be wary of a possible disability discrimination claim.


Unlawful discrimination can occur either in the course of work or in the recruitment process, and can cover the actions of managers, directors and colleagues.

The basic grounds for discrimination specified in the Equality Act 2010 are race, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, and religion/belief.

Discrimination may be direct or indirect. Direct discrimination is easier to claim, if it does occur, but occurs relatively rarely these days. Indirect discrimination is where conditions have been imposed which prevent an employee from advancing in the same way as, for instance, a white person, or a man. For instance not allowing a woman sufficiently flexible working hours to enable her to care for a child may be discriminatory.

Discrimination cases can be notoriously difficult to defend without professional assistance, and the law is very complex in relation to discrimination and there have been recent well-publicised cases where the European Court of Human Rights has come into play with domestic discrimination law (HYPERLINK ‘Article – HRA and emp’).

Harassment, bullying or victimisation claims

Any persistent unwanted conduct by others towards an employee could be classed under this category. An employee has a right to work in a safe, secure, environment, and should be treated fairly and respectfully, free from anything other than occasional unpleasantness.

As an employer, you should also ensure that employees do not engage in bullying or victimisation of others, and you must properly investigate any grievances that you bring against employees, supervisors, or managers. You should even beware of conduct between employees outside of work that could give rise to liability if it is ignored, such as cyber-bullying or internet-based abuse.

A wilful failure to investigate a grievance could give rise to a complaint for breach of contract and/or constructive dismissal, on the basis that you have breached your implied duty to look after your employee properly whilst at work.

Of course, any harassment could also amount to a discrimination (HYPERLINK to Discrimination) claim against the employer if an appropriate underlying ground (such as race, sex, age, disability, age, sexual orientation, belief) applies.

We can advise on what you can do to demonstrate that you have fulfilled your legal duty to do your utmost in terms of investigating any allegations.


‘Whistleblowing’ is the name given to the situation where an employee reports acts of wrongdoing within the employer’s organisation, either to the employer or to a third party. The law regulating it is found in the Public Interest Disclosure Act, also known as PIDA.

Importantly, from an employer’s perspective, employees may have an automatic unfair dismissal claim, even though you have not been employed for the minimum two-year period. If whistleblowing was the reason for the dismissal, the usual limits on compensation will also not apply, although this may change in the future.

There is more detailed information about how employers can pro-actively avoid whistleblowing claims in our special recent article (HYPERLINK to ‘Article – whistleblowing’) written for the health care sector, but of relevance to all employers.


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