All the important aspects of your employment are set out in your contract of employment. You may never have received a document with this title. This doesn’t matter – if you are an employee, even on a ‘zero hours’ contract, you will have a contract of employment. Contractual disputes concerning employment contracts arise in the same way as for any contract. One person who has agreed to the contract does not do what they said they would do, or does not do it in a way they agreed to do it. In the context of an employment contract, it could be the employer or the employee’s actions which lead to the dispute.
Employment contracts contain express terms – hours of work, amount of pay and holiday for example, and a series of ‘implied terms’ which are general duties that the employer and the employee should always bear in mind. Implied terms include things like the ‘mutual duty of trust and confidence’. Contractual disputes can arise from both express and implied terms.
In the worst case, an employment contract dispute could result in a constructive dismissal scenario. Other employment contract dispute cases may be resolved in other ways.
- Internal grievance procedure
- Negotiations with your employer through ACAS
- Settlement agreements
- Civil court action in the High Court or County Court for breach of contract
- Claiming constructive unfair dismissal in the employment tribunal
- Arguing unlawful discrimination in the employment tribunal
- Claiming an unlawful deduction from wages in the employment tribunal
Employment disputes can usually be handled in one or two different ways, and may often form one part of any legal action you might bring against your employer. You may want a resolution to your employment contract dispute without going to a court of tribunal. Avoiding legal action can help maintain your relationship with your employer if you want to stay employed.
Employment contract disputes
An employment contract dispute could arise because your employer has not paid you properly, or did not allow you the number of days’ holiday that were specified in the contract. A dispute can also arise from the same set of facts that would give you a discrimination claim. If your employer discriminates against you unlawfully, he or she has probably acted in breach of the implied duty of mutual trust and confidence. If you are concerned that your employer is not treating you in accordance with your contract of employment, the first thing to do is to establish what your contract says. You can then work out the best course of action.
What is my contract of employment?
Your contract of employment is usually made up of a number of documents that set out the way your relationship with your employer will work. You may have a ‘contract of employment’ plus access to HR documents and policies which the contract refers to. Sometimes, the contract is less formal – and you may have to bring evidence of what has happened in the past e.g. how much you were paid and how often to work out what the terms of your contract are. This can be more difficult, but it does not mean you don’t have a contract.
How can Truth Legal help me if I have an employment contract dispute?
When you’re dealing with something stressful like a contractual dispute you need to be sure that you’re supported through it by a team that understands what you are going through and can offer you strong, practical advice about your position and what you should do. Truth Legal is a friendly, ethical firm of solicitors, passionate about seeking justice for people who have been mistreated at work. Every client and every contract of employment is different, so we always tailor our advice to ensure that we resolve employment contract disputes in the right way for the individual. We also ensure that every case is handled by a qualified solicitor with the right experience in employment disputes to handle your case. Your case will never be at the bottom of a pile, we will be available to speak with you when you need us, and we will be guided by you as much as possible throughout the matter.
What kinds of dispute resolution apply to my employment contract?
You may not want to bring formal legal action to resolve your employment dispute. In most cases, you will have to show that you have tried to resolve the dispute in another way before you can bring a legal claim. You can use your company grievance procedure as a form of dispute resolution. If this fails, you can try and negotiate with your employer to resolve the problems. This could result in a settlement agreement with your employer. Alternatively, you might try early conciliation through ACAS.
Do I have to leave my job if I have an employment dispute with my employer?
If you are in dispute with your employer about your employment contract, you do not have to leave your job. In some cases, the problems at the heart of the contractual dispute may be so bad that you feel you have no option but to leave, but this will not always be the case. In some instances, if you are still employed, you may not be able to bring a tribunal claim to resolve the contractual dispute, but you will still be able to bring a County Court claim. There are various rules around where you should bring an employment contract dispute. We at Truth Legal would talk this through with you should it become necessary to consider formal legal action.
Do I have to have worked for my employer for a specific length of time to raise an employment dispute?
No – unlike some of the ‘statutory’ rights, such as the right not to be unfairly dismissed, or the right to a redundancy payment, you do not have to have worked for your employer for a specific period of time before raising an employment contract dispute. However, until you have worked for an employer for 1 year, you may not be able to bring some of the additional claims which would allow you to obtain more compensation.
What kind of compensation would I receive if I win my employment contract dispute case?
A contractual dispute is usually resolved by the court or tribunal ordering the employer to honour the contract and to make a payment for what the employee has lost. As an example, if your complaint is about your employer failing to pay you a bonus under a contractual bonus scheme, your ‘compensation’ would be the bonus payment. In many cases, a contractual dispute is just one of a number of claims that will arise out of the same set of facts, so you may obtain additional compensation for unlawful discrimination, or for unfair dismissal.
Finding out More Information
If you’re not sure what your position is, or you are pretty certain that your employer has acted in breach of your contract and you want to pursue this as an employment dispute, we can talk you through the next steps. Give us a call, or complete our 60 second claim form with a few details and one of our experienced employment dispute solicitors will be in touch with you!