Advising Employees

Photo of EskaEmployees deserve the protection of the courts and are entitled to enforce their rights by taking a grievance. You never have to attend a meeting about misconduct, poor performance or redundancy without representation and you always have a right to a lawyer. Consultants are not lawyers. Having acted against consultants and other unqualified advocates, it is my view that employees are better served taking proper legal advice and relying on the advocacy of a specialist barrister. Negotiating without advice may compromise your legal position and limit my ability to achieve a good outcome. Even if you have done something wrong, it is never best to walk off the job and it is certainly not good to just resign. Get advice first.

Rights, remedies and working out a legal strategy

Employees are seldom aware of their rights. At an initial free consultation I will form a preliminary view of your case and discuss funding a legal strategy. Having advised big companies over many years, I understand their legal duties and know the best strategies for getting results quickly. I act with the utmost urgency, choosing the best remedy under the circumstances and keeping up the pressure on the Employer until a resolution is achieved. Employment Relations Authority determinations are relatively unpredictable and costs awards are small. The Employment Court is more predictable (thanks to precedent) and hearings before a Judge could result in substantial compensation and significant costs awards.

There is no such thing as a “win/win situation”

If you think the writing is on the wall for your job, do not imagine that you can achieve a “win/win situation” through backroom negotiations with your employer. Companies see employment problems as a “cost of doing business”—why should they make a princely payout without a fight? As a barrister briefed by large companies, I know how to make companies treat their employees fairly and reasonably. Companies have much greater resources to fight grievances but it is still an embarrassment to them. Employers do not like facing me across the table—they would much rather face only you.

Firing people by saying: “Your position is redundant”

Employers routinely use the excuse of “redundancy” to get rid of “poor performing” or “problem” employees. This is unlawful because it is not a genuine redundancy. When you hear the word “redundancy”—get a lawyer. Early advice might save your job.

Submitting a grievance

Employees have only 90 days to submit a grievance against an employer. The grounds are: redundancy, contract disputes, disadvantage, disciplinary action including dismissal, discrimination and sexual harassment. As these terms are very wide, it pays to take legal advice before submitting a grievance. The first step is mediation. Where there is no settlement the employee can initiate a hearing in the Employment Relations Authority. The resulting determination can be challenged in the Employment Court, with rights of appeal to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.