Worker’s rights in the UK have been gradually improving through the setting up of the Employment Tribunal’s service in 1964, the introduction of policies and laws improving working conditions and protecting employees from discrimination, harassment and whistleblowing. When laws and policies are disregarded to the detriment of the employee, it falls to the individual to enforce their rights in the Employment Tribunal. Whatever reason an employee has to sue an employer, before deciding whether to embark on the litigation path, the employee needs to know these 5 commonly held beliefs about suing an employer.
Myth No 1. If I win, I will receive a huge pay out. This is perhaps the most commonly held misconception my employees considering suing their employer. Employment Tribunal awards are characteristically moderate and with pay outs commonly being around £3,000 – £5,000. The big wins that you hear about in the media, are in the media precisely because they are uncharacteristically large. Usually the employee would have been on a large salary, which then if it was not paid to the employee because of the employer’s wrongdoing, is added up and repaid to the employee with interest. Given that cases can take up to 2 years in the Tribunal in which time the employee is usually off work due to work-related stress, then that salary can add up. If an employee, could leave work and take up another job fairly easily, than an award will accordingly be fairly low, maybe 1 – 2 months salary. If you can negotiate a settlement with your employer in order that you part ways without going too far down the legal route, then your compensation is limited only by what you are able to negotiate and what your employer has the appetite to pay to make you go away.
Myth No.2 My Employer will be fair with me and act with integrity in dealing with my claim. Unfortunately for the most part, most employers see your launching a claim, even making a grievance (the first stage of making the claim) as an “act of war” and thereafter you are definitely an “outsider.” The claw are truly out. Expect documents you need from them to oddly disappear, witnesses to melt away or change their story in response to questions posed by the employer, threatening letters from lawyers and a full character assassination. However, forewarned is forearmed. If you know what to expect you can prepare in advance. Learn how to deal with and counter these and other rogue employer tactics on Employment Law Friend.
Myth No.3. Once I issue my Employment Tribunal Claim, my employer will not take further adverse action against me because that would be victimisation. Unless you work in a highly ethical organisation, the likelihood is that your employer usually will retaliate against you. Although the law protects you against retaliation for certain protected acts such as reporting discrimination and health and safety breaches, there are ways in which your employer can legally make life more difficult for you in a bid to make you drop the claim or leave the company, or both. Once you start to sue your employer, your employer will start to collect “evidence” of your wrongdoing, your “attitude”, disagreements with colleagues from years back or some sort of personality disorder. Expect it and be prepared.
Myth No.4 Once my employer thinks it will be sued, it will change its ways and start to obey the law. Sadly this is another myth. Companies that disregard their obligations to their employees require a great deal of work before the culture can be shifted to ensure an environment or management culture that respects the law in regard to its employees. It is generally cheaper to pay off an employee than to discipline management (with the inherent risk of an even larger claim from a highly-paid manager), make drastic changes to the operation of the company or to roll out the training required to educate bigoted management.
Myth No 5. My employer will be sophisticated in its response to my claim. Happily for you, many employers make a complete hash of handling a claim by an employee and in some instances can even provide an employee with more fodder to support the employee’s complaint. Even large companies supported by a large team of internal or external lawyers can really screw up the process and there are ways that an employee suing an employer can maximise on those opportunities.
So those are some of the most common myths about suing your employer dispelled for you. Some good news and some bad news. What is most definitely good news is that you can now educate yourself to take on your employer yourself without expending copious amounts of money on legal fees and being fully prepared for what you may be faced with by your employer. This website aims to arm you with all the insider knowledge to arm you to protect your employee rights and protect yourself from rogue employers.