The FAQs on this page are for general reference purposes only. Please bear in mind that it is highly advisable to seek legal advice before taking any actions that may have a serious impact on your employment rights or continued employment with your employer.

Employment Law FAQs

When should I receive my written terms?

You must receive your written terms at the beginning of your employment. This is called a Statement of Initial Employment Particulars and covers your terms and conditions related to holiday pay, working hours, job title, place of work, your employer’s address, salary, etc.

Can my employer change my contract?

Generally, both you and your employer need to agree to any changes. Often changes can be made such as a pay rise, although there may not be a written agreement. In other cases, changes may happen through the actions of you and your employer such as your employer paying you a pay rise and you accepting it.

What are the qualifying conditions for unfair dismissal?

You must have worked for your employer for two continuous years. However, some types of dismissal are automatically unfair, starting from the beginning of your employment, for example, if you were dismissed for a discriminatory reason or for reasons related to other statutory rights such as protection from dismissal for making a protected disclosure.

Can I be dismissed if I've been off ill for a long time?

If you have been off for a long time, your employer may consider terminating your employment on the grounds of ill-health capability. However, your employer must consult with you about this and not dismiss you without medical evidence (usually a medical report from your doctor or specialist consultant). After this, your employer should consult with you and consider the likelihood of your return to work. If your return to work is unlikely in the foreseeable future or this is unclear, then your employer may consider dismissing you. Your employer must also consider whether it is possible to make reasonable adjustments to assist you in returning to work before a final decision on dismissal is made.

What is unfair dismissal?

There are a number of potentially fair reasons for dismissal, for example, a dismissal related to your conduct, capability, redundancy etc. Dismissal for any other reason may be unfair, for example, for discriminatory reasons. A dismissal may also be unfair if your employer did not have a good enough reason to dismiss you or if your employer did not follow a full and fair procedure.

My request for flexible working has been refused, is there anything I can do?

If you have worked for 26-weeks or more, you will have the right to request flexible working. You employer must reasonably consider your request and give you a decision within three months unless otherwise agreed with you. There may be valid reasons why your employer thinks that flexible working isn't going to work, but your employer must rely on the correct facts when coming to this decision. Your employer can only reject your request for flexible working for any of the following reasons:

  • extra costs that will damage the business;
  • the work cannot be reorganised among other staff;
  • people cannot be recruited to do the work;
  • flexible working will affect quality and performance;
  • the business will not be able to meet customer demand;
  • there’s a lack of work to do during the proposed working times;
  • the business is planning changes to the workforce.
You have the right to appeal if you disagree with your employer's reason for refusing your request for flexible working or if you believe your employer has relied on incorrect facts.

Am I entitled to bank or public holidays?

You do not have an automatic right to bank or public holidays. This depends on your contract of employment.

Can I be made redundant if I am pregnant or on maternity leave?

You can be made redundant while pregnant or on maternity leave, but there are strict rules that must be followed before this can happen. But you cannot be made redundant simply because you are pregnant or on maternity leave. You have additional protection if you are on maternity leave or shared parental leave, and there is a genuine reason to make you redundant. In this case, your employer must offer you suitable alternative work if this is available as a priority over other employees.

What is redundancy?

Redundancy may happen when:

  • your employer's business closes down;
  • your place of work closes down;
  • the requirements for you to carry out work of a particular kind has ceased or diminished.

Am I entitled to redundancy pay?

You will have the right to a 'statutory redundancy payment' if you:

  • are an employee working under a contract of employment;
  • have at least two years' continuous service;
  • have been dismissed, laid off or put on short-time working (you will not qualify if you have opted for early retirement).
You also have the right to a written statement setting out the amount of redundancy payment you received and how this was worked out.

What is discrimination?

Discrimination may happen for reasons related to:

  • age;
  • disability;
  • gender reassignment;
  • marriage and civil partnership;
  • pregnancy and maternity;
  • race;
  • religion or belief;
  • sex (i.e. gender);
  • sexual orientation.
You are protected from discrimination at work, including matters related to:
  • dismissal;
  • employment terms and conditions;
  • pay and benefits;
  • promotion and transfer opportunities;
  • training;
  • recruitment;
  • redundancy.
If you are disabled, you have the same rights as other workers, and your employer must also make reasonable adjustments to help you if you are an employee or a job applicant. There are different type of discrimination as follows:
  • direct discrimination - treating someone with a protected characteristic less favourably than others;
  • indirect discrimination - putting rules or arrangements in place that apply to everyone, but that put someone with a protected characteristic at an unfair disadvantage;
  • harassment - unwanted behaviour linked to a protected characteristic that violates someone's dignity or creates an offensive environment for them;
  • victimisation - treating someone unfairly because they've complained about discrimination or harassment.

My employer is breaking the law, is there anything I can do?

You may make a protected disclosure if you believe your employer is breaking the law. This is more commonly known as whistleblowing related to revealing information or facts about an employer's wrongdoing. This is called a 'qualifying disclosure.' A qualifying disclosure is a disclosure of information (which is in the public interest) where you reasonably believe that one or more of the following matters is either happening, has taken place, or is likely to happen in the future.:

  • a criminal offence;
  • the breach of a legal obligation;
  • a miscarriage of justice;
  • a danger to the health and safety of any individual;
  • damage to the environment;
  • a deliberate attempt to conceal any of the above.
You are protected from losing your job or from victimisation as a result of making a qualifying disclosure. If you are, then you will be able to make a claim to the Employment Tribunal.

Can my employer formally change my contract?

Generally, your employer should consult with you before formally making any changes to your contract. If you do not agree to any changes, and provided your employer has followed a formal procedure, your employer may terminate your existing contract and impose a new contract. This will amount to a dismissal in law, which means that you may either continue to work under a new contract (with your continuity of employment preserved) or resign and claim constructive unfair dismissal.
If you continue to work under a new contract, this does not in all cases mean that you have accepted any changes, especially when any changes have little or no immediate impact on your employment. In some circumstances, such as where there is a transfer of a business, there are special restrictions on the ability of your employer to change your contract if the reason is related to a qualifying transfer. You should also note that although consultation should be with individuals, there may be a requirement for your employer to consult with representatives, especially if any change to your contract follows certain types of business transfers or changes in contractor.

Can I be dismissed for frequent short-term absences?

Your employer may consider dismissing you if your attendance at work falls below an acceptable standard. However, your employer should consult with you and follow a fair procedure and should not generally dismiss you without issuing you with a formal warning first.

Do I have the right to time off work during my redundancy notice period?

You have the right to take a reasonable amount of paid time off during working hours to look for new employment or to make arrangements for new employment.

What is a settlement agreement?

A settlement agreement is a formal document in which you agree to relinquish your employment rights or ability to make any claim against your employer (or your former employer) in return for receiving certain payments, benefits and privileges.

How long do I have to make an unfair dismissal claim?

If you are entitled to bring a claim, and you decide to do so, then you should note that by law, you are required to make your claim to the Employment Tribunal within three calendar months (less one day) of being dismissed. However, before you can make your claim, you must follow the requirements of the ACAS early conciliation scheme.