One of our experienced employment solicitors will talk through your requirements, advise on the best course of action for your business and talk through the services that we offer.
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Employment & HR
Employment law is a complex area and one that is frequently changing. Both employers and employees need to keep ahead of rights and responsibilities. Our approach at Coodes is to provide not only a service when things go wrong but to promote good HR practice. Sometimes a connection needs to be made between what the law says should happen and how it needs to operate in everyday situations in the workplace. We are a business that operates in the same location and markets as our clients. It is therefore important to us to provide a service that meets client needs and aspirations.
We offer a range of services, products and pricing options to enable you to get the right advice at the same time as keeping control of what it is costing you.
HR for Small Business
Getting the documents right
Employment law is substantial and complex as things currently stand. That is likely to become ever more the case in the years to come. Having documents, policies and processes that reflect your business’ approach to the law is important. Having those in place protects your business from claims and disputes and also provides staff with a clear set of guidelines within which to work, making the operation of the regulatory regime much more straightforward and consistent. We can provide:
- All contract documents
- Staff handbook covering all processes from recruitment to termination
- Review of current documentation and recommendations for improvement
- Specific policies:
- Disciplinary and Grievances
- Social media
- Zero Hours contracts
- Flexible working
- Equality and Diversity
We have a range of fixed prices for these services.
Day to day advice
With a diverse workforce, the application of legislation and regulation can prove difficult. We can provide day to day advice on the different circumstances that arise in your business. We can do this on a one-off basis or through our retained advice service. We also offer a fixed price initial consultation service so that you can control cost. We can speak to you in person or remotely, by phone or video conference to save you time and travel.
Performance Management, Disciplinary and Dismissals
You will want to get the best from your staff to make your business the most successful. Sometimes staff do not always work at their optimum. We can assist you to deal formally with under-performance, from giving you processes to help them improve, dealing with disciplinary processes, to negotiating terminations and dealing with employment tribunal claims. Having good standard processes in place from the outset as part of your HR documentation will be invaluable in helping this difficult process work for you and to protect you from unwanted and expensive claims. Following dismissal there are issues of restrictive practice clauses to manage. This can be done as part of our retained advice service or you can use our fixed fee initial consultation service
- Provide advice on performance improvement plans
- Ensure that you have appropriate procedures in place to deal with disciplinary issues
- Negotiate terminations
- Prepare and advise on settlement agreements
- Advise on disciplinary actions that are needed
- Deal with claims made for unfair and wrongful dismissal
- Advise on protecting your business when staff leave, for whatever reason
In a changing economic environment it is sometimes necessary to downsize the workforce or to change terms of employment. Employment legislation facilitates the way in which this can be done. Getting the process right is critical, if this is not done properly, employers can end up with claims for unfair dismissal or discrimination, which are a great deal more expensive. This involves consulting with appropriate staff, selecting the correct set of employees who might be vulnerable to redundancy, setting the correct criteria for selecting the redundant employees and ensuring a fair and open process for communicating and applying the redundancy criteria
- Ensure that you have a standard procedure to use if redundancies are necessary
- Assist you in setting up an individual redundancy process for your business’ specific needs
Business Transfers and re-structures
There are employment aspects to any change of ownership of a business or organisation. The starting point is that when that happens the contracts of employment with all their current terms transfer automatically to the new owner. Everyone involved in the transaction needs to be aware of that and understand the implications. The effects of that can be mitigated with careful planning. Whatever happens, buyers need to be aware of the employment terms of the staff that they are taking on and how they impact on existing arrangements
- Complete an audit of the sellers’ terms of employment
- Advise on the consequences of taking over the individual staff
- Advise on any adjustments that need to be made before or after the transfer
- Deal with post-transfer issues that arise
Protecting your business
Employees have access to a large amount of information about their employer’s business, its finances, its plans, its trade secrets and processes. The business will also have a reputation that it will want to preserve, and that can be lost through what staff say about you. Employers have a legitimate and enforceable interest that needs to be protected. Through careful drafting of contracts and clearly written policies those interests can be protected. While businesses have a right to protect themselves, employees themselves have rights not to be prevented by employers from following and developing their careers. This is an area of law where courts have intervened to decide what is acceptable and what is not, so considerable care is needed in drafting these sort of documents.
- Draft contracts and staff policies to reflect your business requirements
- Provide social media policies to protect business reputation
- Advise you how to implement and enforce these with individual staff
- Deal with staff leaving and enforcement of contracts including court action where needed
Good employment practice is that employers aim to get the best staff to do the job, irrespective of who they are, what they are like, where they come from and what they believe. That is the background to the extensive, and sometimes complex, anti-discrimination legislation. The legislation applies to “Protected Categories” and prevents and compensates discrimination on the basis of an individual’s age, gender, sexual orientation, religion or philosophical belief, race, ethnic origin or disability. Employers are required to take these into account from recruitment to termination of employment and throughout all staff relations. Employers are also responsible for the failings of their staff in their relationships between each other. That can be prevented by having and communicating processes that explain what is expected of staff and then making sure that staff comply with those processes. Compensation for discrimination can be very expensive and very damaging to reputation, so it is important that this is done correctly.
- Review your HR processes to make sure that they are compliant
- Provide training to your HR staff to ensure that they apply the processes correctly and how to deal with any complaints
- Give advice to deal with any specific complaints/allegations of discrimination
- Defend any tribunal proceedings that employees take against the business and represent you at any tribunal hearings
Employee complaints that are unresolved ultimately result in applications to the Employment Tribunal or the County/High Court. Legal Representation when facing potentially expensive claims is advisable. Claims also take up management time that might be better spent in the business. We have extensive experience in dealing with employment disputes at all levels and regularly represent clients in the Tribunals/Courts.
- Represent you throughout any tribunal or court proceedings
- If you elect to defend yourself, for agreed prices we can advise on specific stages
We have a number of options that you can use to cover our charges and to enable you to keep control of your legal expenses:
1. Initial fixed fee consultation – £200 plus VAT for a one hour meeting
2. Fixed fee – fixed and agreed for a specific job
3. Hourly rate – for complex or difficult claims or problems where things are uncertain.
The provision of advice and representation to employers in relation to the defending of claims before the Employment Tribunal against an employer for unfair or wrongful dismissal
- We charge £5,000 – £7,000 plus VAT on average for this work where you are paying your legal costs on an hourly basis to defend a claim which proceeds to include a final hearing. This estimate is just an average price based on recent instructions; the actual cost to you will depend on a number of factors which we will discuss with you if you decide to instruct us.
- The charge is based on an average of our usual hourly charging-rates of between £200.00 to £315.00 plus VAT per hour.
- You may have the benefit of being able to claim under a legal expenses policy which would cover your legal fees.
- Potential additional costs – There are sometimes additional costs you may have to pay to include for example counsel’s fees and medical expert fees. Depending on the length and complexity of a final hearing counsel’s fees would likely be between £750 – £2,000 plus VAT. The instruction of counsel may reduce the fee you would pay to us. Medical expert fees will vary from case to case but the range of £200 to £2,000 can be expected depending on the expert used and what they are being asked to assess. In some cases the Tribunal will order that a joint expert be instructed and the cost of that split between the Employee bringing the claim and yourselves. We will discuss these additional costs with you before incurring them.
- In most Employment Tribunal cases legal costs are not recoverable from the other party irrespective of the outcome.
- Our fees are calculated only for wrongful and unfair dismissal claims and should the claim you are responding to include other heads of claim (for example discrimination), we reserve the right to charge you additional sums depending on the circumstances.
We understand the stress and urgency involved in dealing with employment matters. Below are examples of the likely different stages:
- Initial advice and assessment;
- Issuing an ET3 response (the response form when a claim has been made against you) to the proceedings;
- Advising on the potential value of the claim including considering the Claimant’s schedule of loss;
- Witness statements;
- Advocacy at a final hearing or the instruction of counsel where necessary.
- Disclosure and bundle preparation;
- Negotiating settlement;
- Pre-action work to include pre-claim conciliation.
If you wish to find out more about the process and likely timescales, please look at our “Employment Tribunal – process” pdf.
Please contact us if you wish to discuss this further.
Philip Sayers - Was very happy with my experience - swift, professional and succinct.
Phil Sayers - My sincerest gratitude for you and your team's excellent handling of my case.
Phil Sayers - excellent advice.
You have advised with warmth and compassion, been available, knowledgeable, understanding and empathetic.
From our first meeting you have put me at ease.
Thank you - for your expertise, professionalism and exemplary conduct, a credit to Coodes Solicitors.
We very much appreciate the excellent manner in which you have conducted yourself; and reflects extremely highly on Coodes.
I seriously thank you for all your efforts, professionalism and clear knowledge in understanding that I was right and wasn't prepared to accept such a stuffing.