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Getting legal advice

(10 Posts)
Desktophurtingmylap Fri 09-Sep-11 21:38:05

Namechanged for this.

DH and I are sure that he is in the midst of a constructive dismissal and believe we have a very strong legal case.

If DH's employer gets away with this we will lose everything so we need urgent legal advice. However, we are very short of money at the moment and not sure that we can afford the legal fees.

Do employment disputes qualify for legal aid and if so, how do we apply for this? If not, are there any other options open to us?

I've spent the last hour trying to work out whether to post this and how much information to include, but we are desperate and I can't think what else we can do.

hairylights Fri 09-Sep-11 21:52:24

You have to be on a pretty low amount of money to qualify for legal aid afaik. Is it something you can deal with yourselves via the employment tribunal?

legal aid calculator

Desktophurtingmylap Fri 09-Sep-11 22:25:14

Thank you for that hairylights.

DH has made a complaint about Boss but at this point the situation is so bad that it wouldn't really help save DH's job even if Boss is fired. Boss is trying to force DH out by gathering evidence that DH isn't doing his job properly. This evidence consists of Boss setting DH targets and changing these without telling DH so that when DH successfully completes the original target he has technically failed. This is then recorded as DH not having completed a task as instructed which is misleading. There is now so much evidence like this against DH that even if Boss is gone tomorrow DH will probably lose his job.
At this point I don't even care about the Boss, we just desperately want to save DH's job.

hairylights Fri 09-Sep-11 22:44:26

How is he able to do that? Surely he should provide DH with the targets in writing at the time they are set and agreed? So DH should have evidence of the original targets as issued?

Sam100 Fri 09-Sep-11 22:53:25

Hi there

Many solicitors will give a free preliminary 1 hour advice in order to establish whether or not there is a case to take. I suggest you call a few local solicitors who specialise in employment cases to ask what they can offer. Also check if you have legal cover on your house insurance. My dh went through this last year and was given 1 free session then we paid for a follow up.

Also tell dh to download printed copies of any emails which support his case, copies of diary entries, memos etc. He should also start (if not already doing so) keeping a day book of conversations with boss e.g. He asked me to do x,y and z by ddmmyy. He should make notes now where he thinks there is discrepancy between what he was asked to do and what he is being measured on.

I hope this helps.

Desktophurtingmylap Sat 10-Sep-11 08:26:02

Thanks Hairylights and Sam100 - DH is given tasks verbally over the phone (boss works in another location but frequently pops in). DH has been keeping a book with records of every conversation in, has kept printed copy's of every e-mail and fax and has photographs of tasks completed successfully but then marked as failed. We have a lot of evidence thankfully so should have a good case.
I didn't realise the insurance may cover this, I'll have another look at my policy and also have a google of lawyers in our area - thank you both!

hairylights Sat 10-Sep-11 09:46:15

That's good - I'd assumed he would have records of what's been going on as evidence, but Sam of course is right in that he should continue to keep detailed records.

There may also be scope for a 'no win no fee' kind of arrangement with a solicitor?

hildathebuilder Sat 10-Sep-11 09:53:28

Hi, there are various options to get legal advice.

home insurance as Sam100 says - also some other insurance policies may cover this but often you have to be unemployed first.

some solicitors do do no-win no-fee for this type of dispute

CAB give employment advice

some solicitors will do initial advice free, although technically my firm don't there is a threshold where its not worth doing the paperwork to send a bill

then there are pro-bono organisations, law bentres etc. the main ones for employment law are law works and the bar free representation unit.

Whatever you do and being practical about this your dh should look for another job. It sounds like he may have a case but constructive dismissal is very hard to prove in a tribunal and also whatever happens to the boss, and whatever the rights and wrongs of a situation once a company has decided someone should go 9 times out of 10 they do.

Desktophurtingmylap Sat 10-Sep-11 11:36:47

hilda - Thank you for your reply, it is great to have a legal mind on this too!

DH is actively looking for a job elsewhere and has been for a few months but hasn't found anything just yet. I think his confidence has been severely dented by the current situation and is coming across at interview.

It looks like Boss is starting the ball actively rolling on a constructive dismissal; I was wondering that since we know what is happening and have evidence, would a letter from a solicitor informing the company that their current actions can be constituted as constructive dismissal help us at all? (If that makes sense)

Boss has done this before with another member of staff and the employee had a lot less evidence than we have now. They consulted a solicitor and were offered a compromise agreement. Would the fact that Boss has done this before help our case?

Thanks for replying everyone, I've been stewing on this for months and it is great to finally have some advice.

InMyPrime Sat 10-Sep-11 22:47:41

To claim constructive dismissal, you typically have to resign and then lodge a case against your former employer as the idea of c.d. is that you find the work situation so intolerable, you had no choice but to leave.

The legal advice I was given when I had to take legal action against my employer (unfair dismissal and sex discrimination) is that compensation for constructive dismissal or even unfair dismissal is only based on loss of earnings. So if your DH did resign and claim constructive dismissal and win, he would only be compensated for the time he was out of work anyway e.g. if it took him three months to find a new job with active searching, he would get 3 months' pay as compensation. It's a big risk because your legal fees could amount to £5,000-10,000 if you have to go all the way to tribunal.

Writing a letter threatening legal action can work in terms of pushing your employer to agree an exit (e.g. compromise agreement) but I can't see how that would work for constructive dismissal as your DH's employer hasn't formally put him at risk of dismissal / redundancy yet (or have they?) so they have not done anything illegal. Notifying them that you think they might do something illegal in future is too speculative. The best thing your DH can do for now is raise a grievance internally. That would always be the first step to taking legal action anyway.

Sorry to sound so negative but I have been through the process recently and was amazed at how little redress there is against a bad employer, even in dire cases. In terms of advice, most solicitor firms will offer a free consultation initially to assess your case e.g. 10-15 mins over the phone. There are also some no win-no fee solicitors out there. One thing you might want to do is talk to ACAS, who offer free advice on workplace disputes. I had mixed experiences with them but they are at least free and can refer you to specific information / legal resources relevant to your case.

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