For some of us, work is a necessary evil that we put up with to pay the bills and put food on the table, for others, it’s a passion that makes us spring out of bed in the morning and perhaps for the majority it’s…something in between the two extremes!
However, one aspect of work which is always important but likely to see an increase in focus during the post-pandemic environment is employee rights – these past few months have witnessed a fast-tracked revolution in the way we work, which has resulted in some of us working remotely, others being furloughed for months and unfortunately, many of us being made redundant.
While those involved in the world of work (employers included) are under extreme pressure right now, this is a time when it’s vital that you know your rights as an employee. With that in mind, here are just a couple of reasons you might need an employment lawyer.
Bullying in the workplace
Workplace bullying can take many forms, ranging from overt harassment based on discrimination to more subtle ‘gaslighting’ whereby a colleague or manager uses more Machiavellian methods to set you up for failure, mischaracterise your actions, and paint you in a poor light.
But whether bullying is physical, verbal, psychological, or a mixture of all three, it’s never acceptable and can cause untold damage to your mental health and livelihood. It can also persist for months if it’s of the more subtle variety, so whatever the situation, if you’ve exhausted internal channels at work and you perhaps feel that your union isn’t providing the support you expect or require, seeking legal advice can be a wise move as it provides you with the peace of mind and professional guidance necessary to resolve the situation.
Your employer might decide to instigate formal disciplinary procedures if they feel that you’ve had too many unexplained absences form work, if the standard of your work isn’t at an acceptable level for a sustained period or of your behaviour is in some way unacceptable.
It’s common that details of these procedures are laid out in your contract or employee handbook and employers often follow the ACAS code of practice directly or use their own procedures which closely mirror it. However, unfortunately some employers play fast and loose with laws, rules and conventions when it comes to disciplinary procedures and they’re not permitted to act with impunity. So be aware that you’re entitled to have a trade union representative or employment solicitor with you during any disciplinary meeting and that retaining a lawyer can help you to appeal to an employment tribunal of you’ve been unfairly treated.
Tip: contact an employment solicitor like Mason Bullock for expert advice on disciplinary measures.
These two scenarios are merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to employment law, but they should provide an eye-opener in terms of the type of support you might want to engage to protect your livelihood so that you can take care of yourself and your family – especially during these tough times!