Handling employment law issues can be a big distraction when you are trying to run a business. Get it wrong and it can tie up lots of management time as well as being very costly. But, when you get it right, it complements the business and keeps you running smoothly.
So that’s our job as employment lawyers – to keep your business running smoothly and if an occasional hiccup occurs – because life is like that – we’ll help you get through it with minimal disruption.
Our team of specialist employment lawyers cover London and the South East and act for businesses of all shapes and sizes and in many different sectors. Our advice for businesses covers all aspects of the employment relationship, helping to settle disputes, defending employment tribunal claims and providing employment contracts and handbooks.
The fact is that employment law has become much more complicated in recent years. So you can rest assured that we have a team with terrific expertise and experience across the full spectrum of work. What makes us stand out is the depth of the relationship which we will forge with you based on our unwavering commitment to understand the way you and your business operates. That way we design and tailor our service around your needs – not an off-the-shelf formula. You will experience our unrivalled speed of response, which is consistently praised by those we work with.
So whether it’s dealing with employment tribunal claims or providing a telephone helpline service we’ve got all angles covered to provide commercially driven, strategic and practical advice, given with the energy and proactivity you expect from a trusted professional adviser.
To give a flavour of our work here are some recent examples:
Advising a multi-academy trust on a claim from a former headteacher concerning whistleblowing, unfair dismissal, breach of contract and unpaid wages
Advising a multi-national food distribution company in respect of a group of current and former employees who tried to move over £20 million worth of our client’s business to a competitor, we successfully took proceedings against them
Advising a national insurance broker that had to close one of its sites, we took them through the process of consulting with its workforce
Advising a care home sector charity on strategies for cost reduction which involved imposing changes to terms and pay, the legality of which was subsequently upheld by the Employment Appeal Tribunal.
Our specialist employment dispute lawyers provide business clients with strategic, commercial and practical advice throughout the dispute, ensuring the best possible outcome.
We have experience in fighting claims in the Employment Tribunal and the High Court and resolving claims through mediation and negotiating commercial settlements. Our employment dispute lawyers have significant experience and an excellent success rate in dealing with employment tribunal claims. We provide commercially driven, strategic and practical advice.
At Thomson Snell & Passmore, our team of highly experienced lawyers assist clients with all types of employment claims, including those relating to:
We have a high success rate in seeking a commercial solution or successfully defending employment tribunal claims when representing employers in claims brought by employees, or potential employees, for unfair dismissal, discrimination or unlawful deduction from wages. We know that protecting your company’s reputation is a key concern when defending a claim and will keep this at the forefront of our mind as we provide you with strategic and tactical advice when guiding you through every stage of the tribunal process.
Our expertise includes:
Identifying the risks and approach to a claim at an early stage
Assessing the legal costs involved in defending the claim
Establishing your prospects of success; assess the risk of not succeeding and the costs involved
Calculating the necessary time and resources from you to defend the claim
Establishing whether a commercial settlement is appropriate or whether (for business or reputational and policy reasons) you should defend the action through to final hearing
Preparing a robust response to ensure that your business and its reputation are protected
Considering whether there are any lessons to be learnt from the process, identify any potential training requirements or if changes to your policies and procedures are required.
We are highly successful in securing the best outcome at tribunal or a sensible commercial settlement
We offer highly competitive legal services with fixed fees and no hidden extras
We make it easy for you to contact us, you will have a dedicated lawyer, a direct dial and email address
We ensure that you are always aware kept up to date with how your matter is proceeding
We are committed to full transparency and giving our clients meaningful choice as to the basis on which they wish to proceed 98% of our clients rated our service as ‘excellent’.
Our fees for defending unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal employment claims
We have set out below our typical fees for defending employment tribunal claims on behalf of employers for unfair or wrongful dismissal. These fees are based on matters that proceed to a final tribunal hearing. If the matter concludes earlier the fee will be less, for example if an out of tribunal settlement is agreed.
There are typically three levels of employment claim depending on the complexity and the fee varies accordingly. See a full explanation here of how we reach the fee ranges below. We have also set out in more detail how we charge and the factors that will affect what the total fee will be for the claim.
Simple ET claim – fees range from £12,000 – £22,000
Medium ET claim – fees range from £21,000 – £31,000
Complex ET claim – fees range from £31,000 – £49,000
(all fees are exclusive of VAT charged at 20%).
We can put you in touch with employment practice risks indemnity insurers to arrange before the event insurance to help cover the costs of defending any claims, if you wish.
Key stages in the employment tribunal process
The fee ranges set out above will cover all of the work in relation to the typical stages of an employment tribunal claim which can be seen here.
These stages are an indication only. If some of stages above are not required, the fee will be at the lower end of the scale and if there are additional stages, the fee will be higher. We have set out below the factors that will usually affect the overall fee. There are also things outside of our control, such as court availability and location. We would ensure that you are updated on these factors at the outset and as the matter progresses.
You may wish to handle the claim, or parts of it yourself and only seek our advice in relation to some of the stages. This can also be arranged based on your business needs.
Factors affecting the overall fee
Unfortunately, it is impossible to list all the factors that could affect the overall fee, as each case varies. We have set out below the most common factors:
The conduct of the employee opponent
The amount of correspondence and documents
The length of the ET hearing.
Disbursements are costs and expenses related to the matter that are payable to third parties, such as barrister’s fees. As we instruct the barrister on your behalf we handle the payment of their fees on your behalf, having first obtained money on account from you.
Counsel fees range from £1,500 – £5,000 per day, depending on their level of experience and availability. We would obtain quotes for your approval.
Travel expenses will be charged to you for attending any hearings on your behalf or with you. The amount of the expenses will depend on the location of the hearing and the number of times that travel is incurred.
How long will my matter take?
The time from taking your initial instructions to the final resolution of the matter depends largely on the stage at which the case is resolved. If a settlement is reached during pre-claim conciliation, the case is likely to take two to six weeks to conclude.
If the employee’s claim proceeds to a final hearing, then typically a final hearing takes place between 9 and 15 months from when the claim was submitted to the tribunal.
The date for the final hearing is usually set at the preliminary hearing, which generally takes place one to three months after the deadline for your formal response to the employee’s claim.
Formerly known as compromise agreements, employee settlement agreements are confidential agreements between employer and employee that record the terms of an agreed exit.
Since an employment settlement agreement is legally binding, it is important that the agreement is drafted by employment law experts. This will prevent the employee from bringing any claims against the employer once the agreement is signed.
The best way to minimise the risk of problems arising in the workplace is to make sure that you have well drafted employment contracts, policies and procedures in place, ensuring both you and your employees know where you stand.
Our specialist team can advise on:
Drafting and reviewing employment contracts
The drafting and reviewing of policies and staff handbooks
Drafting bonus, commission and other employee incentive arrangements
Supporting your business in developing working practices that advance your organisation’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals.
Policies can relate to a range of issues, including:
Discipline & grievances
Sickness & absence
Family friendly policies
Health & safety
Equality & diversity
Discrimination & harassment
Use of social media and the employer’s email and internet systems.
The TUPE regulations can apply to outsourcing, re-contracting, insourcing arrangements. If proper due diligence is not done this can lead to unexpected liabilities emerging after completion.
We advise private and public sector businesses on such matters, as well as on asset transfers. We assist clients to understand their obligations, manage risk and negotiate protections from employment and pension liabilities.
We know that any redundancy process is difficult for employers and employees alike. Employers are required by law to consult extensively with trade unions, other employee representatives and employees. Consultation must cover the need to reduce workforce roles or create new ones to better align with the business feature needs, pools for selection, selection criteria and application of that criteria and suitable alternative employment. Our experienced team are experts at planning and carrying out collective and individual redundancy processes in a way that is efficient and effective for all involved.
We regularly help clients navigate the complexities of employment law, offering practical advice to ensure that the correct redundancy procedure is followed. Getting the process wrong can be expensive, very time consuming and harm the reputation of any employer. We help make sure employers do not ignore their collective information and consultation obligations and minimise the risk of any claims down the line.
Our extensive experience and expertise includes:
Individual and collective redundancies, ranging from single employees to hundreds
Managing employee consultations, including working with unions and other elected representatives
Defining pools for selection
Creating and applying a fair redundancy selection process
Suitable alternative employment
Statutory redundancy payments
Changing terms and conditions
Temporary lay-offs and short-time working
Business transfers and outsourcing (TUPE regulations)
Defending unfair dismissal and discrimination claims at Tribunals.
How does the consultation process work?
Failure to conduct a proper consultation process could result in claims of unfair dismissal and even discrimination, so it is important to get it right. You must consult with all employees who could be affected by redundancy, although there are different considerations to factor in depending on how many redundancies you plan to make. It is also important to remember that you must not present your final (decided upon) redundancy plans at the start of the consultation process.
Consultations can take place face to face, using video conferencing or over the phone and should involve explaining the situation to employees and the business’s proposals getting their feedback, which should be worked into final plans.
If you are planning to make 20 or more employees redundant within 90 days, you must inform and consult with any trade unions or employee representatives over 30 days. 45 days if 100+ are at risk of redundancy.
Don’t forget that you must also consult with any employees who are currently on maternity leave.
In collective redundancy cases, you can only give notice of redundancy related termination of employment once the consultation process has finished and a minimum time period has elapsed since the start of the consultation process – 30 days for between 20 to 99 redundancies and 45 days for 100 or more.
Managing people (disciplinary, grievances & discrimination)
As one of the leading firms in the Southeast, Thomson Snell & Passmore’s team of employment lawyers possess a wealth of experience in handling matters of disciplinary, grievances and discrimination and equality issues within the workplace.
Our lawyers act in discrimination claims across a broad range of areas, and we also work to achieve improvements in the way organisations work, by ensuring they implement the Equality Act into their practices.
The law relating to discrimination has expanded rapidly in recent years, creating a complex web of legislation that can easily take the unwary by surprise. Currently it is unlawful to discriminate in the workplace on the grounds of:
Religion or belief
Pregnancy & maternity.
Whilst many forms of potential discrimination are easy to identify and avoid, the full effects of modern discrimination legislation are often unseen and misunderstood.
Disciplinary & grievances
We have considerable experience of producing carefully drafted disciplinary and grievance policies, putting in place a clear process for dealing with issues. When problems arise, we frequently provide our clients with support throughout the disciplinary and grievance process, in order to ensure that their interests are protected.
We can help you by:
Reviewing your disciplinary and grievance procedures to ensure that they comply with current legislation and best practice
Drafting new disciplinary and grievance procedures
Guiding you through the process of handling a grievance
Guiding you through the process of handling a disciplinary.
Our employment lawyers are experienced in supporting businesses in relation to employment status issues and implementation of the off-payroll working rules (IR35).
If you use ‘non-employees’ then it is essential that your business is compliant. Following the well-publicised gig economy cases brought by workers of the likes of Uber and Pimlico Plumbers, potential claimants are very aware of the arguments they can make to challenge their contractor status and seek compensation.
The risks of getting their status wrong includes employment tribunal compensation and HMRC imposed penalties, as well as damage to reputation.
We assist businesses with carrying out contractor audits and status determination assessments, to assess the risk of a claim by a contractor and to demonstrate compliance to HMRC.
Where disputes arise, we provide commercial and pragmatic advice on prospects of success and tactics for responding to claims.
Employee data protection
Our employment lawyers advise clients on workplace data protection matters. We help businesses respond to subject access requests, which can be time consuming and are often made when a dispute is pending.
We advise on data breach notification, employee monitoring and other workplace technology, background and DBS checks and ICO complaints.
If your business is subject to a complaint or investigation, one of the first things the ICO will ask for is copies of relevant policies. We work with organisations to put in place appropriate policies covering use of employee and contractor data, employee monitoring and regarding employee use of your IT systems.
We also advise on issues arising from employee use of social media. This can be positive and employees can be great brand ambassadors. But it comes with risks relating to protecting commercial information and inadvertently creating liabilities for the organisation. We work with business to manage these risks and opportunities and put in place suitable policies and procedures.
If your business provides good or services to members of the public, you must not treat someone unfairly due to a protected characteristic, such as their age, disability or gender. To do so could amount to unlawful discrimination. And you are liable for any such discriminatory acts of your employees.
A breach of this duty could lead to a court claim for damages and one which could have a lasting impact on your reputation.
We provide advice to businesses concerned about discrimination claims from members of the public. We can help you with defending any claims and to identify what can be done to avoid such any future claims.
Employment advice service
Handling employment law issues can be a time consuming distraction when you are trying to run a business. Get it wrong and it can tie up lots of management time as well as being very costly. Employment tribunal claims are on the rise as individuals are more willing to litigate. Getting expert advice on a course of action you wish to take could prevent a claim from ever arising.
One of the ways that we can give you peace of mind when dealing with HR issues is via our annual fixed price employment advice service, which can cover everything from routine telephone queries to advice on redundancy projects.
How does the advice service work?
The advice service runs for 12 months
The cost of the advice service is a fixed price for the 12 months
You choose which package you would like; silver, gold or platinum. What is covered by each package is set out on below.
What types of advice will the employment advice service cover?
Routine employment law and HR advice and the provision of template letters/email from our know-how bank, are included in all our packages
Reviewing and amending documentation prepared by you such as letters inviting an employee to a disciplinary hearing and outcome letters – gold and platinum packages only
Commenting on and advising on employment projects that you wish to conduct, e.g. redundancy process – platinum package only.
A client calls seeking advice in respect of a disciplinary meeting they will be conducting with an employee. The client and our lawyer spend 15 minutes discussing the matter on the phone – this will be covered with all packages.
A client emails their letter inviting the employee to the disciplinary meeting and also scans the evidence in support of the allegation to us. Our lawyer reviews the evidence and amends the letter – this is covered by the gold and platinum packages.
The three packages - choosing the best fit for you
Telephone and email advice on day to day employee relation matters
Provision of template correspondence
Drafting/editing your correspondence to an employee
Protracted disciplinary and grievance process
Initial contract or handbook review at start of our retainer
Settlement agreement negotiation and drafting
Projects e.g. redundancy, restructuring
Initial advice on restrictive covenants
Does your credit roll over?
Excluded from all:
Data protection advice
Court and tribunal claims
TUPE and M&A work.
The cost of the advice service varies from one client to another depending on the number of employees you have and the extent of the anticipated use.
We will send you a quote for the cost of the advice service following a detailed discussion with you about your business, the employment issues you have dealt with over the past 12 months and what you believe your anticipated needs over the next 12 months are likely to be. There is no cost for this consultation
There is a minimum fixed price of £2,000 plus VAT for a silver package for a 12 month period.
You can contact us as much as you want, and if the issue you wish to discuss falls outside the scope of your package we will tell you.
What if I use the advice line less than anticipated?
If you have the platinum package you will accrue a credit for any under-use, which we will rollover at the end of the 12 month term. You can choose to spend this towards any optional extras (see below) or on advice falling outside of your package. Credit must be spent within six months of the end of the term in which it was accrued.
The optional extras:
In house legal skills and best practice training for management (preferential prices available)
Briefing and brainstorming session on employment law developments relevant to your organisation (free)
Review meetings of your strategy and our service delivery (free)
Employment practices liability insurance, to manage risks of claims, provided you take our advice (insurance premium quotes available)
Fixed fee early conciliation services with a view to reaching a settlement to avoid employment tribunal claims
Collaborative mediation of work place disputes to avoid employment tribunal or court claims.
Will I have a dedicated legal adviser or will I end up having to deal with a different person every time I call?
You will have a dedicated legal adviser and an employment relationship partner or senior associate assigned to you. We do this for several reasons:
To ensure continuity for you
So you always have two points of contact
So that we have a relationship with you and we build up our knowledge and understanding of your business.