We deal with hundreds of people every year who are facing difficulties at work. In such hard times as these, we are seeing an increase in the numbers who need employment advice. Here are some tips to help you make sure you’re treated fairly.

If you’re unhappy about something that your employer or a colleague has said or done, you should always try and talk about it with them. It’s a good idea to try to sort out problems early on. If things aren’t sorted out quickly you may get angry, and this could cause bigger problems between you and your employer.

Legally, it’s also normally better to act quickly. If you don’t, any changes to your contract or working conditions could become permanent. If you don’t do anything you may be seen to be accepting any changes, even if you protested about them.

It’s a good idea to write down your concerns and anything that happens. This will be useful as a record and reminder of the situation.

If you’ve been dismissed, or your employer starts formal disciplinary action against you, there is a procedure they should follow under a code produced by the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS). As part of this, you should be given the chance to defend yourself in a meeting, and to appeal their decision. If you can, you should do this in writing to your employer. You should explain to them why you don’t agree with their decision.

Should I get advice before approaching my employer?

If you can, it’s often helpful to get advice so you know where you stand. Your employer may be entitled to do what they’re doing and you may not be able to do much to change it. On the other hand, your employer may not be entitled to do what they’re doing, and you might be able to use your legal rights to change things.

Can my union help?

If you’re a member of a trade union, you should always try to talk about any problems you have at work with your union official. Part of your trade union’s role is to help sort out problems individual members have at work. Problems can often be resolved more easily with the help of your union. But if you’re unhappy with a decision your union has made for you, then you should get advice elsewhere.

You may have employment advice cover in you household insurance, so also remember to check – it’s the sort of think that’s included in cover automatically as an added extra.

What else can I do?

If talking about things with your employer hasn’t worked, you might want to think about another way to sort out the problem. One way of doing this is to put in a grievance. A grievance is a way of more formally raising your concerns, problems or complaints about work with your employer.


Time limits

If you want to take your complaint to the employment tribunal, usually, you’ve only got 3 months minus 1 day to get your claim in to the tribunal. This is usually measured from the time when the last event happened.

Time limits still apply even if you’re making a grievance or appeal.

Make sure you know what your time limits are and don’t miss your chance to put your claim to the tribunal.

For help from Salford Citizens Advice visit your local bureau or telephone our advice line: 0844 826 9695 (if calling from a landline or if calling from a mobile 0300 456 2554).

For more details of our service visit our website at: www.salfordcab.org.uk

Tom Togher.