Workplace moves and post-termination restrictions
If you are thinking about moving to a competitor or setting up on your own and possibly taking colleagues with you, you should take legal advice at the earliest opportunity as such moves are governed by a complex area of law and what you thought was a great next career step can quickly unravel.
We have successfully shepherded numerous teams and individuals who have been approached by competitors into their next move. You need to be fully informed before you go down this route and you need watertight assurances from your new employer. We will make sure that those assurances are in place and do all we can to make the move as hitch-free as possible.
We also regularly advise individuals as to whether the restrictions contained in their contracts of employment are enforceable. It is surprising how many post-termination restrictions are poorly drafted and not worth the paper they are written on. Knowing that your employer’s ability to restrict your future actions is weak can be an invaluable tool in securing your next career move.
Recruitment and promotion
If you are starting a new role, either at a new company or with your current employer, you will very likely be asked to sign a new employment contract. We can review your terms and negotiate on your behalf to ensure that you have sufficient protections against dismissal; that you will not be unduly restrained after you leave; and that the remuneration arrangements, which are often complicated, will deliver what has been promised.
Raising concerns about work issues
If you are unhappy at work, often the first step towards protecting your legal position is to draft a robust grievance letter. We will help you distil your complaints into the most effective and potent form, adding legal weight where appropriate. Our drafting makes employers sit up and realise that they are dealing with an individual who will not be subdued. A well-executed grievance or written statement setting out your position is usually the foundation of building a case and will sometimes produce an effective and immediate result.
Resisting allegations of poor performance or misconduct
When an employer is accusing you of poor performance or misconduct there are procedural safeguards that generally need to be observed. We can help take the pressure off you and turn it back on your employer by ensuring you are given a full chance to state your case, that you are judged against reasonable metrics and standards that are consistent with others in the organisation and that you are given a real opportunity to improve or, if you prefer, a severance payment.
An accusation of gross misconduct or incompetence may not only result in the immediate termination of your employment, but may destroy the rest of your career.
If you have been summoned to a meeting to discuss conduct or performance allegations, investing time with one of our employment lawyers who will have seen literally hundreds of comparable situations from both sides is a real asset. Preparation, often at short notice, for disciplinary meetings can pay dividends in either saving you from dismissal or putting you in the strongest possible position for a claim in the Employment Tribunal or High Court. We have a long track record of helping clients who have been accused of underperformance, regulatory breaches, harassment, fraud and other reputation-destroying allegations present their cases persuasively at internal hearings such that their employers accept that the accusations are either untrue, exaggerated or at the very least do not warrant the ultimate sanction of dismissal. Even if your employer insists on seeing through such allegations to the termination of your employment, we can remove the stain on your reputation and obtain compensation for you through the courts and tribunals.
Pay and bonus disputes
Employees have rights associated with the payment of “discretionary” bonuses and often have complex remuneration deals. Your employer’s (mis)use of its discretion can amount to a breach of your employment contract. If you have been denied your bonus or have been paid significantly less than expected, we can use the law to help you get paid what you are entitled to. We have a long track record in helping senior executives get paid what they legitimately expected to receive.
Takeovers, mergers and TUPE
If your employer has been taken over, merged or lost a contract which you were dedicated to working on, you can be vulnerable to dismissal or losing status or remuneration. However, the law protects you in that situation under a complicated set of regulations known as TUPE. We can give you straightforward advice on your rights under TUPE and help you enforce those rights so the merger, takeover or loss of contract has a positive outcome.
Alleging malpractice (whistleblowing claims)
If you have blown the whistle at work and suffered retaliation or even been dismissed as a result, then we can help. The law says that individuals that are brave enough to stand up for what is right should not be penalised and should not have their careers thwarted. We are renowned for obtaining compensation and managing reputational issues on behalf of people who have alleged malpractice. We can also assist if you are considering blowing the whistle and want to ensure you do it in a way which will give you the protection of the law.
Discrimination, bullying and harassment
Whether you have been overlooked for promotion due to age, sex or race; been harassed because of sexual orientation, your religion or beliefs; been in need of workplace adjustments due to a disability; or have suffered from any other form of discrimination, bullying or harassment, our lawyers have the empathy and expertise to ensure that your right not to suffer from discrimination is advocated strongly.
Bullying and harassment in the workplace can lead to individuals feeling isolated, victimised and being made ill by their experiences. Our lawyers have taken on the largest City and national institutions in discrimination, harassment and bullying claims and either brokered a resolution, won at Court/Tribunal or secured excellent settlements.
Maternity, paternity and flexible working
Although employers like to present a public face which champions equality, we frequently hear stories in which women experience detrimental treatment on announcing their pregnancy or when they return from maternity leave, facing the challenge of balancing childcare arrangements with working life. We are skilled at negotiating flexible working arrangements which really work for our clients. Where things do not work out, we obtain fair exit packages from employers who have failed to reconcile their aspirational policies with the reality of treating maternity returners with fairness.
Sometimes people are dismissed for no fair reason; their hiring manager moves on; their face no longer fits; they have upset the Managing Director, etc. In those circumstances, we will vigorously negotiate the terms of any exit to ensure you are appropriately paid out and your reputation is protected. If your employer is seeking to dismiss you, it generally needs to have a fair reason for doing so and needs to follow due process. If it does not, you may be entitled to compensation. We help you extract that compensation by alerting your employer to its failings, negotiating a severance and, if this cannot be negotiated with your former employer, we won’t shy away from obtaining you recompense through the courts and tribunals.
Settlement agreements and brokering settlements
If your employer offers you a “settlement agreement” and informs you that, in order to be valid, a lawyer must sign off on it: we can help. Our employment lawyers have decades of combined experience of negotiating severances.
We don’t mechanically "rubber stamp" settlement agreements, as some employers would prefer us to do. We analyse your situation to assess the legal position and your bargaining strength and weigh that against what is on offer in the settlement agreement to give you direction on whether you have got a good deal or whether you should negotiate for a better package and, if called for, litigate.
Sometimes, the deal is fair, in which case our clients walk away with the agreement signed in short order. Often, however, clients come out with more money, more favourable terms, fewer (or no) restrictions on what work they can do in the future and the security of knowing there is nothing else that can be squeezed out of the employer.