• Doncaster

    01302 327 136
    Mon-Fri 9-5pm

  • Retford

    01777 703 100
    Mon-Fri 9-5pm

  • Worksop

    01909 500 511
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  • Clowne

    01246 810 050
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  • Rotherham

    01709 375 561
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  • Sheffield - Waterthorpe

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  • Sheffield - Chapeltown

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'Employment' Category Archives

December 4th, 2019

Bonus payment disputes: arguing rights and discretion

Concerned businesspeople argue with colleague or client dissatisfied with contract termsBonus payments are a welcome boost for many employees, but sometimes, employers take away bonuses for their own unexplained reasons. Despite what many think, you do have some rights when it comes to bonuses, and the Foys employment law team are here to explain some of them.

A bonus payment is a form of compensation that is over and beyond the amount specified as base salary. Some companies may include bonuses as part of their work package or contract, and some may offer them on a random basis to those they may wish to thank or reward for good work.

The two types of bonuses an employee can receive

The first thing to understand is that there are two different types of bonus payments: contractual and discretionary. These are broad definitions, and bonuses can often be a mix of the two.

  • Contractual – Your contract will define these bonuses. An employer must make this payment if the employee meets certain criteria laid out in the contract. For example, if an employer lays out clear performance targets and you meet them, you will be entitled to your bonus.
  • Discretionary – These bonuses are controlled by your employer. They decide who will be paid and when and why it will be paid out, as well as the amount that is to be paid.

Generally, there are very few disputes concerning contractual bonuses; this is because they are laid out in writing and end with the written promise.

However, discretionary bonuses can cause far more problems. This is because they are ultimately down to the will of the employer, and not backed up by any form of written agreement. However, that does not mean to say that they have full control, as some court cases have proven.

The laws governing discretionary bonuses

For starters, discretionary bonuses though strictly oral and usually not written down, are fully binding once declared. Many points of contention between employer and employee occur when an employer unfairly exercises their discretion and reduces or terminates a bonus. There are a few key factors that come into play when deciding whether you have a case, if you feel that you have lost your bonus unfairly.

Discretion – Discretion must be exercised rationally – an employer cannot legally remove a bonus if it can be proven that the employee had earned it. In the case of Clark versus Nomura International plc, Mr Clark wasn’t granted his performance-based bonus because he was dismissed for misconduct, despite having earned the company almost £6 million in profit. This was found to be an irrational and perverse exercise of contractual discretion.

Discrimination – Bonus disputes can also come about as a result of discrimination. If your employer is withholding payment due to your race, gender or other physical factors, then you are entitled to fight them for it. In the case of Land Registry versus Houghton and others, Ms Houghton and four of her colleagues didn’t receive bonuses due to excessive absence, which was a result of their individual disabilities. This was found to be discriminatory and unjustified, even though the bonus was discretionary in the first place.

Bonus clauses – In the case of Farrell Matthews & Weir versus Hansen, Ms Hansen left her job shortly after her bonus was declared, and the company refused to pay as a result. The court found this to be an unlawful deduction from wages, and she received her bonus.

It must be noted that while these cases set precedence, the law surrounding discretionary bonuses remains in a grey area. Many of these decisions came after lengthy court battles.

Are you missing your bonus?

If you’ve had your bonus removed unfairly, then you may be eligible for a claim to get it back. Get in touch with the team at Foys Solicitors – we have experience in all aspects of employment law, and we can advise you on whether you have a case or not. And even if you think you don’t, there’s no harm in checking with our free initial consultation.

To find out more about whether you have a case, fill out our Online Form, or get in touch with our employment law solicitors at your local office.

Retford – 01777 703 100
Worksop – 01909 500 511
Doncaster – 01302 327 136
Clowne – 01246 810 050
Rotherham – 01709 375 561
Sheffield (Waterthorpe) – 0114 251 1702
Sheffield (Chapeltown) – 0114 246 7609

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November 27th, 2019

The office Christmas party: Employer responsibilities

Office Christmas PartyThe office Christmas party is the highlight of the year. Your employees are busy planning and getting excited about the festivities, but do you know what responsibility you have as an employer?

At this time of year, your calendar quickly fills up with invites to festive dinners, cocktail parties and corporate Christmas events. As an employer, you may be organising your own function and planning a night of fun for your employees. However, you may have many questions – how much control do you have over your employees? Are you responsible for their actions outside of work hours? Should you even try to get them in on time the morning after?

These are all questions that surprisingly have a legal basis, which is why the employment law team at Foys Solicitors have put together a handy guide on where you stand and what you should do to prepare for the big night.

Employer obligations

The first thing to remember is that as an employer, you have a duty of care towards your staff. Under the Equality Act 2010, you are liable for acts of discrimination, harassment and victimisation committed by your employees. In other words, you are responsible for ensuring that they behave appropriately, even outside normal working hours.

Any social event organised by the employer is, in essence, an ‘extension of the workplace’. Without proper planning, attention to detail and legitimate workplace policy, your party can quickly turn into an HR nightmare. So, before you pop the champagne, you must be prepared and aware of any employment issues that could arise as an unwanted Christmas surprise.

Workplace policy

Office parties are legally considered to be work, even if they are held outside of office hours and away from your base of operations. As such, your responsibilities as an employer still hold. Any actions conducted under what is legally defined as ‘the course of employment’ are what you should be keeping your eye on.

The best way to manage this is to ensure that your workplace policy is clearly visible and seen by all staff prior to and during the event. An email highlighting expected behaviour before the big night probably wouldn’t go amiss either. A gentle reminder of the rules is often more than enough to keep staff from behaving too wildly, with the added benefit of showing them clear boundaries, where they can still have fun. You can emphasise any unacceptable behaviours, such as:

  • Excessive consumption of alcohol and drunkenness
  • Drug-use
  • Any discrimination or harassment
  • Violence, verbal abuse and inappropriate language

Making sure all managers are aware of the workplace policy will also help maintain rules of conduct and minimise any inappropriate conduct. You can designate a member of staff to be on the lookout for such behaviour on the night.


Although Christmas is the perfect time to let your hair down and celebrate the successes of the year, businesses should be aware that office parties can often go awry due to excessive alcohol consumption and high emotions. A lot of Christmas parties offer free, unlimited drinks, which can encourage excessive drinking and result in an employee doing something they will regret later.

If you plan on having a free bar, consider limiting the number of drinks staff can order before needing to purchase them. Giving out a set number of free drinks tokens can set a ‘soft’ limit, encouraging them to stop before they become too intoxicated. You can also appoint someone who isn’t drinking to be a ‘defuser’ of escalating and potentially inflammatory situations.

Finally, make sure you include snacks and entertainment around the room – with nothing else to do, attendees will naturally gravitate towards the bar. Having other options can reduce the amount they drink.

In addition, you are responsible for the health and safety of your employees, including any making sure they get home without incident. If there are difficulties getting there and back, organise taxis or have phone numbers readily available – ensure that there are alternative options for those who are too drunk to drive. Don’t forget that they need to be in work the next day, perhaps not entirely free of hangovers but well enough to work. Planning ahead is vital.

Be considerate to your guests

A Christmas party should be suitable for everyone and taking into account the special needs of your staff is of paramount importance. Your aim is to get all of your invited employees to come and enjoy themselves, and for that to happen, you cannot afford to miss out on any requirements that would otherwise hinder their enjoyment.

Dietary requirements are one of the most important things to think about. Fortunately, most of the foods prohibited for religious reasons are meats or animal products like eggs, so it’s important to include vegetarian and vegan options for your guests. Similarly, make sure there are non-alcoholic beverage options for those who do not drink alcohol. This option will also encourage staff to remain sober.

Make sure that the venue is suitable for employees with disabilities. Accessibility is a top priority when considering staff who use a wheelchair or need assistance getting to the venue. Failure to consider these factors may limit who can attend and cause potential claims of discrimination. At Christmas, it is important that you consider everyone’s needs.

If you are allowing employees to bring their partners, you cannot discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation or marital status; invitations must be open to all. In addition, remember that Christmas is a Christian holiday and as such, some may choose not to observe or celebrate it due to their religious beliefs. This is a normal part of the holiday season, and many may choose to celebrate their holidays separately.

What if things go wrong?

If the worst comes to worst, and you need to talk with an employee about misconduct, contact our employment law team at Foys before you have the discussion. We can advise you on how best to proceed and help you to solve the issue as efficiently as possible. Our mediation services can also assist with resolving the issue out of court, far away from any expensive legal fees.

To find out more about how we can keep you partying the right way, fill out our Online Form or get in touch with your local office:

  • Doncaster – 01302 327 136
  • Retford – 01777 703 100
  • Worksop – 01909 500 511
  • Clowne – 01246 810 050
  • Rotherham – 01709 375 561
  • Sheffield (Waterthorpe) – 0114 251 1702
  • Sheffield (Chapeltown) – 0114 246 7609

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July 25th, 2019

Employment solicitors for employers

Two businessmen shaking hands

With the assistance of our employment law solicitors, advisors and experts, business owners can rely on us for sound legal support and advice regarding employment and employee-related issues.

As an employer, you must be mindful of your employees’ rights, your responsibilities to your employees, and how best to manage them. It is also in your best interests to know how you can protect yourself if necessary.

At Foys, our employment law solicitors can help employers with all of the above. Our drive for advising employers in employment law led us to update our ‘Employment Law for Employers’ page with up-to-date information about our services.

On this page, we explain the areas of employment law that we cover, including:

  • Contracts of employment
  • Employee handbooks and policies
  • Defending employment tribunal claims pursued by employees (i.e. unfair dismissal and discrimination)
  • Advice on redundancy procedures
  • Disciplinary and grievance issues
  • Dismissing or disciplining an employee
  • Drafting and dealing with settlement agreements
  • Variation of contract terms
  • Discrimination
  • Business Transfers (TUPE)
  • Breach of restrictions by employees

Contact Foys Solicitors for employment law advice today

For a free initial consultation or more information on our employment law services, give us a call on 01302 327136. Alternatively, you can email us at enquiries@foys.co.uk or complete our Contact Form.

December 26th, 2018

What changes will there be to Employment Law in 2019?

Employment Law book-tribunal in background

2019 is here and with the New Year comes changes. In this post about changes to employment law, the employment law solicitors at Foys explain a number of topics and developments in 2019, including:

  • The introduction of executive pay gap reporting
  • Brexit and EU Settlement Scheme
  • The increase in the national minimum wage
  • Payslip changes

Executive pay gap reporting

As of 1 January 2019, UK-listed companies with more than 250 UK employees will be legally obliged to disclose the salaries of their chief executives and compare them against the average UK worker. To be precise, they must report on the pay difference between a CEO and the full-time UK employees from the 25th, 50th and 75th pay percentile. In addition, this pay gap will have to be justified, meaning that directors will have to show what effect an increase in share price will have on executive pay and whether they are doing enough to earn their pay packets. As this requirement applies to financial year beginning on or after 1 January 2019, meaning companies will start publishing the pay ratios in 2020.

Brexit and EU settlement scheme

The official exit date for the UK from the EU is 29 March 2019. Although the current plan involves having a transition period of 21 months, the UK government has published the EU Settlement Scheme where EU citizens and their families will need to apply for their settled status in the UK before 30 June 2021. To be eligible for settled status, proof of continuous residence is key – one will need to prove that one has lived in the UK for at least six months in any 12-month period over a total of five years.

If your EU employees have lived and worked in the UK for less than five years, they can apply for pre-settled status first, then apply to change their status after reaching five years.

Minimum wage

The national minimum living wage will increase, with the following being the official values from the 2018 budget:

  • Workers aged 25 and over – £8.21 an hour (National Living Wage)
  • Workers aged 21-24 – £7.70 an hour
  • Development rate for workers aged 18-20 – £6.15 an hour
  • Young workers rate for workers aged 16-17 – £4.35 an hour
  • Apprentice rate (workers under 19 or in the first year of apprenticeship) – £3.90 an hour.

These will come into effect on 1 April 2019.

Payslip changes

On 6 April 2019, two major changes will come into effect for employee payslips. The first is a change to the information they display: they must now show the total hours worked in cases where the pay varies according to the hours worked, like for variable-hour or zero-hour contracts. Secondly, all workers must receive payslips, including contractors and freelancers rather than just employees. The aim is to make wages more understandable and easier to challenge, especially in the case of zero-hour contracts.

Talk to an employment law expert

As an employer, understanding employment law is crucial to your business’ success and retaining employees. We can give you impartial legal advice on any of the following issues:

  • Contracts of employment
  • Employee handbooks and policies
  • Defending employment tribunal claims pursued by employees, i.e. unfair dismissal and discrimination
  • Advice on redundancy procedures
  • Disciplinary and grievance issues
  • Dismissing or disciplining an employee
  • Drafting and dealing with settlement agreements
  • Variation of contract terms
  • Discrimination
  • Business transfers (TUPE)
  • Breach of restrictions by an employee

Our expert employment law advice applies to employees as well as employers. If you are an employee and you want to know what you are entitled to, contact the specialist employment solicitors for employees at Foys. We can help you understand what your rights are, and how they are going to change in 2019.

To find out more, get in touch by filling out our Online Form, or contact your local office:

  • Doncaster – 01302 327 136
  • Retford – 01777 703 100
  • Worksop – 01909 500 511
  • Clowne – 01246 810 050
  • Rotherham – 01709 375 561
  • Sheffield (Waterthorpe) – 0114 251 1702
  • Sheffield (Chapeltown) – 0114 246 7609

November 7th, 2018

Is it legal for employers to give a bad reference?

Employer reading a reference

References can make or break an employment opportunity. A good reference can get you into otherwise unattainable positions, but a bad one can seriously hinder your career. But is it legal for an employer to be able to affect your future in this way? The employment law solicitors at Foys Solicitors discuss what you need to know.

The laws behind references

There are relatively few laws regarding the references themselves, considering the impact they can have. Generally, an employer is not obligated to provide information about a former employee’s performance, whether it is good or bad. The exception to this is if the work is in a regulated industry such as financial services, which requires a reference by law.

If your employer does give you a reference, then it must be a fair and accurate representation of your work. As bad references can be detrimental to a career, there is the option of claiming for damages if you believe that your reference is misleading or inaccurate. However, there are several different claims you can make.


Defamation is one of the most common claims made in regards to job references, and also one of the most misunderstood. The definition, in a legal sense, amounts to an untrue statement designed to harm the reputation of the target.

Defence against defamation hinges on whether the information was knowingly incorrect and whether or not it was provided with malice, but not necessarily on the actual validity of the information. Defamation is a surprisingly complex law, and before attempting to pursue a defamation case, you should contact our employment solicitors for sound legal advice and to ensure that your claim is worth taking further.

Unfair dismissal

There are cases where employees have been sacked or otherwise made redundant because their employers have been asked for a reference. Usually, this is a sign of the employee leaving for another job, prompting the employers to take the initiative. However, this can amount to unfair dismissal.

There are strict time limits on pursuing these types of claims, and every communication between you and your employer will be taken into account. Therefore, it’s important to start on the right foot by getting in touch with our unfair dismissal solicitors. We’ll help you pursue this case effectively and efficiently.


This is based on the fact that your previous employer has failed to take the proper care required to ensure that the reference is written correctly and the information is accurate. If you can prove that this is true and that it has caused damage to your future career as a result, then you have the basis for a negligence claim.

Negligence claims revolve around whether the employer can prove that they have made an effort to ensure that the information is correct. Proving that the reference is false will not necessarily win you the case if the employer demonstrates that they have taken sufficient measures to attempt to keep it truthful.

Call Foys today

Our solicitors are specialists in this field, which is perfect when you consider the complexity of the employment laws you’ll be forced to deal with. We also deal with business employment law, giving us a complete understanding of both sides of the case.

To find out more about how our employment solicitors, fill out our Online Form – or call your local Foys Solicitors office:

  • Doncaster – 01302 327 136
  • Retford – 01777 703 100
  • Worksop – 01909 500 511
  • Clowne – 01246 810 050
  • Rotherham – 01709 375 561
  • Sheffield (Waterthorpe) – 0114 251 1702
  • Sheffield (Chapeltown) – 0114 246 7609

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October 17th, 2018

Is it worth making an employment tribunal claim?

Employment tribunalEmployment tribunals handle issues such as discrimination, wage disputes or unfair dismissal. Many people worry that making a claim will be a costly, drawn-out process; in reality, making a claim is free and the tribunal hearing will often only last a day. Although, with thousands of pounds at stake, hiring a specialist employment solicitor from Foys is a good idea. Before you make a claim, you will also have the chance to resolve the issue through conciliation.

The tribunal process

Any case relating to your employment rights can be taken to an employment tribunal. Employment tribunal cases can include but aren’t limited to:

  • Unfair dismissal
  • Discrimination
  • Redundancy
  • Wage disputes
  • Breach of contract

Before making an employment tribunal claim, you need to contact the ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service), who will offer free early conciliation to help settle the dispute without going to a tribunal hearing. This will not eat into the time you have to make a tribunal claim, so it’s worth taking advantage of the service. If you choose not to, you must have a good reason for doing so; the ET1 form used to make a claim to the employment tribunal will ask you for your early conciliation number.

Employment tribunal claims are free, and the ET1 form can be filled in online or printed out and sent by post. You don’t need to use legal jargon, but it’s best to seek assistance with filling it in from the employment law solicitors at Foys to make sure everything on the form is clear and relevant to the case. The deadline for making a claim is usually three months minus one day after the event your claim refers to. You must make sure the tribunal receives the form within the deadline, or it’s likely to be rejected.

Once your ET1 form has been received, the tribunal should send you a Notice of Acknowledgement. Your employer or former employer (known as ‘the respondent’) will have the chance to send in their own account, and a copy of this will be sent to you.

How long it takes to get a hearing depends on how busy the tribunal is and how complicated your case is. Your hearing date is likely to be at least four to six months after your form was submitted, and the hearing itself will only last a day.

At the tribunal hearing you will need to present your evidence, as will any of your witnesses. While you don’t need to represent yourself, you will need to answer questions from the judge and the respondent. Once the hearing is over, the decision can be given on the day or sent to you in the post.

Possible outcomes

If you win your employment tribunal claim, the respondent will be liable to pay compensation as well as your costs, including any costs for the time taken to prepare your claim and witness expenses. In some unfair dismissal cases, you may even get your job back. Your compensation will vary depending on the circumstances of the case, with some capped at a set maximum payout. As a reference, the average award for unfair dismissal in 2016/17 was £16,543, according to the Ministry of Justice’s statistics.

It may take some time to get your money, as your former employer will have 42 days to appeal. If they have appealed or are planning to appeal the decision, payment will be put on hold.

If you lose your case, you have 14 days to ask the tribunal to reconsider. To have your case reconsidered, you would need an acceptable reason – for example, there may be new evidence, or you weren’t told about the hearing.

While there is no fee for making an employment tribunal claim, you will usually have to cover your own costs if you lose your case. In some rare cases, a claimant will be asked to pay the other party’s costs as well. With the average cost to an employer of a tribunal claim being £3,700, you will want to avoid this.

Is it worth making a claim?

If you have a strong case, it’s always worth making an employment tribunal claim. Applying doesn’t cost anything, and the compensation you can receive is significant. The highest award in 2106/17 to a claimant for unfair dismissal in an employment tribunal was £1.7 million.

The main risk arising from making a claim is that you can be ordered to pay the respondent’s costs if you lose. This is most likely to happen if you fail to follow instructions given to you by the tribunal, or if you lie or provide misleading information. Having our solicitors on your side reduces the chance of making a costly mistake during the claims process.

Contact Foys Solicitors about your employment dispute

Even though it is possible to pursue an employment tribunal without representation, 86% of claimants were represented by a lawyer in 2016/17. With thousands of pounds at stake, it’s likely that the respondent will have their own legal representation.

You only have a limited amount of time to make your claim, so it’s best to seek help as soon as possible. At Foys Solicitors, we can help you collate evidence, make a claim and represent you at the tribunal. Our employment law team is experienced in handling tribunal claims and will guide you the whole way – so you don’t have to worry about the legal details.

If you’ve got a dispute with your current or former employer, contact Foys today for expert employment law advice. Your first consultation is completely free, so you have nothing to lose.

Get in touch using our Online Form – or call your local Foys Solicitors office:

  • Doncaster – 01302 327 136
  • Retford – 01777 703 100
  • Worksop – 01909 500 511
  • Clowne – 01246 810 050
  • Rotherham – 01709 375 561
  • Sheffield (Waterthorpe) – 0114 251 1702
  • Sheffield (Chapeltown) – 0114 246 7609

October 10th, 2018

Rights for workers in the gig economy

Gig economyMillions of people in the UK perform work in the so-called ‘gig’ economy – a term commonly used to refer to the prevalence of freelance work and short-term contracts in the labour market. Popular companies in the gig economy include Uber or Deliveroo. People on zero-hour contracts are often included as well. While many of these people are treated like self-employed individuals, some court cases have established that they are actually contracted workers, and as such have more rights than previously assumed.

Employee or worker?

According to the Employment Rights Act 1996, employees can generally be classed as one of the following:

  • Limb (a) worker – An individual who works under a contract of employment
  • Limb (b) worker – An individual who by any other contract, verbal or written, personally undertakes work for someone else

The term ‘worker’ usually refers to Limb (b) workers, who have fewer rights than standard employees. For example, they may be terminated without notice and have no right to maternity pay. However, it’s wrong to assume that workers don’t have any rights at all, as the National Minimum Wage, holiday pay and the right to not be discriminated against still apply to them.

People who are self-employed have very few rights, but there have been cases where companies have wrongfully classed their workers as self-employed contractors to provide them with fewer benefits. In the cases of Smith v Pimlico Plumbers and Aslam v Uber BV, it was found that workers had missed out on rights like minimum wage and annual leave because the companies they worked for didn’t consider them to be employees – even though the employer exerted significant control over work conditions, pay and other aspects of the job.

In another case, the courier CitySprint had classed their worker Maggie Dewhurst as a contractor even though she had to accept jobs on the company’s terms and wear a company-issue uniform with a company ID badge.

After numerous similar high-profile cases and several government reports, there have been calls for the system to protect gig workers’ rights better.

Changes to the gig economy

Did you know, one in four workers in the gig economy report that they are earning less than the National Minimum Wage?

In February of this year, the government announced plans to improve rights for gig workers. It isn’t clear when these plans will be implemented, but the changes that have proposed include:

  • giving all workers the right to a payslip
  • allowing flexible workers to demand more stable contracts
  • ensuring workers are informed of their rights when they sign a contract
  • increasing employment tribunal fees for irresponsible or malicious employers

This list of potential changes will take a long time to implement, and the preliminary negotiations and discussions may even lead to a different outcome. In the meantime, workers who suspect they are missing out on fundamental employment rights should seek independent legal employment advice from us. We have the extensive knowledge you need if you’re having problems with employment contracts and rights.

Contact Foys Solicitors for employment law advice

In the twelve months between February 2017 and February 2018, 2.3 million people in Great Britain worked in the gig economy. It seems many of these people are classed as ‘self-employed’, even when their work indicates they are performing roles more similar to a traditional employee.

If you suspect you may be missing out on your gig workers’ rights, contact the employment law specialists Foys Solicitors. Our first consultation with you is completely free, so you have nothing to lose – and potentially a lot to gain.

For expert advice on your employment rights, use our Online Form to get in touch.

Alternatively, you can call your local Foys Solicitors office:

  • Doncaster – 01302 327 136
  • Retford – 01777 703 100
  • Worksop – 01909 500 511
  • Clowne – 01246 810 050
  • Rotherham – 01709 375 561
  • Sheffield (Waterthorpe) – 0114 251 1702
  • Sheffield (Chapeltown) – 0114 246 7609