Thursday 17th December 2020
As part of the Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo weekly advice column, this week we focus on challenging an unfair redundancy or problem at work.
I don’t think that my boss is treating me fairly due to the impact that Coronavirus has had on my ability to do my job. I am worried that I will get the sack and I think this would be really unfair. What are my legal rights as an employee?
If you’ve had a problem at work you may have rights under employment law. There are protections in place to help you with all manner of employment problems such as being unfairly picked for redundancy, being denied flexible working for childcare or being discriminated against because you’re pregnant.
Follow our top tips if you’ve got a problem at work:
- Talk to your boss.You should always try to resolve a problem at work by speaking to your employer or sending them a letter. If you need help you can contact Citizens Advice for support. If you’re a member of a trade union it’s also worth asking if it can help.
If the issue isn’t resolved, your employer should have a formal procedure for raising a grievance. The manager who deals with your grievance should be impartial and not involved with what’s happened so far. If still not resolved, you might want to take your complaint to an employment tribunal.
- Don’t miss the three-month deadline to start Acas early conciliation.Acas is a government-funded body whose job is to help resolve workplace disputes. Before you can start a tribunal claim the law requires you to start Acas early conciliation. You must do this in three months minus one day from the date when the problem you are complaining about happened (you have six months minus a day for a claim about a redundancy payment or an equal pay claim). For example if you weren’t paid your wages on 31 October, you have to tell Acas that you want to make a tribunal claim no later than 30 January.
When you tell Acas you want to make a tribunal claim, they will try to help you reach an agreement with your employer before you make the claim. This conciliation process can last up to six weeks. It may result in a ‘settlement’ of your claim, where the employer agrees to resolve your problem and pay you any money you’re owed.
- If this doesn’t work you’ll have around a month to escalate to an employment tribunal.If you can’t reach an agreement through early conciliation, Acas will send you an early conciliation certificate.
You will then always have at least one month from the date on the certificate to take your case to an employment tribunal. In some cases, depending on when the problem happened and when you contacted Acas, you might have slightly longer than a month.
It is very important you don’t miss the deadline, as in many cases, you’ll lose your right to go to an employment tribunal. If you decide to go ahead, you’ll have to make a claim by filling in an ET1 form online. Your employer will then be asked to fill in a form.
- The tribunal will make a decision.When you’ve made your claim, it will start moving towards a hearing date. The average wait time for an individual case on unfair dismissal or discrimination to be decided is nine months, though this can vary depending on the type of case. Acas will get involved again to see if there’s another chance to settle your claim. The tribunal will contact you to tell you what you need to do to start preparing for the hearing. At the hearing, both you and your employer will put your sides forward; this could include providing evidence, witness statements and cross-examination. In most cases your claim will be decided by a judge but in discrimination claims or more complex claims there will be two panel members helping the judge to reach a decision.
Further more information and advice is available at: www.citizensadvice.org.uk
Watch out for our advice column next week when we highlight our Talk about Abuse campaign.
The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo accept no liability for the information published. Citizens Advice Exeter is unable to respond to individual requests for advice through these columns. Copyright Citizens Advice. For the most up-to-date information, please visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk