Meet the Team: Philip Sayers

Wed 6th Apr 2022

Coodes Solicitors’ Business Services team advises commercial clients on a range of legal issues. The team is made up of specialist lawyers, providing businesses with a depth and breadth of expertise. Philip Sayers, a Solicitor in our Employment team, discusses his career to date, including his unexpected media profile during the pandemic.

What does your role involve?

I am a solicitor who specialises in Employment law. I act for both employers and employees, so my role encompasses a wide variety of different types of legal matters. For example, one minute I might be drafting a contract of employment on behalf of an employer and the next helping an employee draft a grievance that they wish to raise.

The role involves non-contentious work, such as advising on Settlement Agreements and contentious work such as representing parties in Employment Tribunal proceedings. I also often work closely with other Business Services colleagues, particularly our Corporate and Commercial and Commercial Property teams to assist with business transfers.

During the pandemic, employment law suddenly became very topical. We gave regular updates to keep the business community informed of the changes, which came thick and fast in the early weeks and months of Covid. The news media was especially interested in the ins and outs of the furlough scheme. As a result, I was asked to give several radio interviews, including a live broadcast with Vanessa Feltz on Radio London. I never expected to have a media profile but during the pandemic, which was such a worrying time for employers and employees, I felt it was important to help to explain the changes to people.

Did you always want to be a lawyer and what inspired you to pursue a legal career in the first place?

I did not always wish to be a lawyer but had no other plan either. I have always enjoyed a good debate which I suppose helped! It was probably a consequence of the A levels I chose to study that I ended up deciding on a career in law. I then studied Law (with Politics) at university and that cemented the decision.

Can you briefly explain your career path to date?

After graduating from the University of Southampton, I completed the Legal Practice Course at the University of Exeter. Following that, I worked as a conveyancing paralegal for a firm in Exeter for approximately 18 months. I then joined Coodes as a paralegal specialising in employment law. I completed the training contract and then resumed employment law once I’d qualified as a solicitor.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The thing I enjoy the most is the sheer variety of the work I undertake. Employment disputes often have interesting factual backgrounds in addition to interesting legal considerations. Meanwhile, the non-contentious aspects of my role, for example drafting employment contracts, require careful consideration as to how to best meet the client’s requirements while ensuring they are legally compliant.

What change has had the biggest impact on your area of work in the last five years?

Probably the biggest legal change affecting my area of work in the last five years has been the Supreme Court abolishing Employment Tribunal fees in the summer of 2017.

Introduced four years previously, Tribunal fees led to a drastic decline in the number of Employment Tribunal cases. UNISON brought a legal challenge and the Supreme Court found in their favour, which has resulted in the number of Tribunal claims increasing again, albeit still not to the level they were at prior to fees being introduced.

Covid-19 has transformed the way in which many of us work. How have you adapted and what do you now do differently?

Unlike many people, I have worked in the office throughout the pandemic and therefore the impact of Covid has not been as significant to me as it has for most of my colleagues. However, I have adapted certain working practices to reflect the new reality. For example, I no longer routinely see clients in person. This took some getting used to but, as so many have discovered, video conferencing can still add something that a telephone conversation cannot.

How has the pandemic affected your clients and how do you see it impacting them over the next few months?

It has had a very significant impact. Initially, a great many businesses had to prepare for their staff to work from home while juggling decisions about whether to furlough some of their workers. Then, they had to make preparations for some or all of their employees to return to the workplace and needed to consider what they could do to make their premises as Covid secure as possible. They had to keep up with rapidly changing employment legislation such as alterations to sick pay and holiday entitlement. Sadly, some needed to consider redundancies.

Fortunately, I anticipate the next few months will be rather smoother, although Covid related absence is likely to be a factor long into the future.

What challenges do you think the future holds for your clients?

One key challenge that many of my clients will be facing in the near future is deciding whether, and if so to what extent, they wish to move to a hybrid working model. This involves people work partly from home and partly in the office.

This had already been increasing in popularity prior to the pandemic but events of the last two years have significantly accelerated the trend. Employers should expect to receive flexible working requests from some employees, who may want to work at least partially from home on a permanent basis.

What object would you not want to be without as you go about your daily work and why?

My coffee mug. I wouldn’t function without it!

What do you think Coodes does particularly well?

Coodes strikes a very good balance between offering traditional legal services to individuals across the region (and beyond) and providing commercial-orientated services for businesses. Coodes caters for all clients and offers a high quality service at competitive prices.

Contact Philip Sayers and the Employment team at Coodes Solicitors on 01872 246236 or

Wed 6th Apr 2022

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