At MKB Law our Employment Law team is dedicated to providing commercially sound and technically excellent legal advice to a range of clients throughout Northern Ireland.

As one of the leading employment teams in Belfast, we advise on all areas of employment law. We know that our clients have differing objectives and may require different levels of support, on that basis we provide a bespoke service for your specific commercial needs. We aim to provide practical solutions whilst minimising risk and cost to you and your business.

We work with employers across a range of sectors, assisting with matters such as:

Tribunal and high court representation;
Recruitment and talent mapping;
Employment aspects of corporate restructuring, outsourcing and mergers;
Drafting and maintaining contracts of employment and employment handbooks;
Handling terminations, and negotiating terms of exit with senior employees;
Day to day HR support, including advising on performance issues, managing absence and misconduct;
Redundancy, reorganisations and changes to terms and conditions of employment;
Whistleblowing issues;
Implications of Equal pay legislation and caselaw;
Issues around ‘Right to work’ and immigration;
Compliance with Fair Employment Monitoring obligations;
Drafting and managing alleged breaches of Restrictive Covenants; and
In-house training on employment matters.

We work with employers across a range of industry sectors in Northern Ireland.

Our team will assist your company with matters such as: recruitment, staff contracts and handbooks, disciplinary and grievance procedures, redundancy procedures, settlement and compromise agreements and TUPE. We also offer assistance on contentious matters specifically defending any claims to the Employment Tribunals, assisting to settle claims and drafting settlement terms.

Many employers are unaware that their business insurance often provides cover for legal costs of many employment issues – please contact us should you wish us to review your policy.

Claims for discrimination in the workplace can arise when employees, who are considered to have a ‘protected characteristic’, suffer less favourable treatment in the workplace. Protected characteristics include: age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, gender, racial group, religion or belief, political opinion and sexual orientation.

Direct discrimination is when an employee is treated less favourably based on their protected characteristic, for example, passing up a female for a job promotion simply because she is female.

Indirect discrimination may occur when an employer puts in place a policy, practice or criteria that applies to all workers but has the consequence of putting certain individuals, who hold a protected characteristic, at a disadvantage. For example, operating a policy that rewards good attendance without making exceptions within it to discount pregnancy related absences.

There are also specific obligations in relation to disabled workers, in order to facilitate an individual’s medical needs, known as providing reasonable adjustments. A failure to provide reasonable adjustments can also be held to be discriminatory treatment. For example, failing to provide a wheelchair accessible desk for a disabled employee who needs to use a wheelchair in the office due to their disability.

If your employees have raised concerns about discriminatory treatment, we can assist you in how to approach this.

Claims for discrimination can result in substantial awards being made to the employee in excess of £40,000 as well as negative publicity and significant legal expense for your business so it is important to get good legal advice on these matters at an early opportunity.

If an employer terminates a contract of employment without what a Tribunal would find to be a fair reason and/or without following the statutory procedures, the employee may have a claim for unfair dismissal.

In most circumstances an employee will need to be employed for at least one year to claim unfair dismissal however there are some exceptions to this.

If you are considering dismissing an employee, then we can guide you through the process to minimise your risk and exposure to potential unfair dismissal claims.

Unfair dismissal claims can cost thousands in legal fees, settlements/awards and can also cause negative publicity for your business so you should get good advice about this area of law if you are unclear about any aspect of the process.

In most circumstances anyone wishing to lodge an employment claim with the Tribunal must first notify the Labour Relations Agency (“LRA”). If prospective claimants are open to it the LRA will attempt Early Conciliation to establish if the claim can be resolved prior to proceedings issuing.

The LRA will contact the prospective respondent to establish if they are also willing to engage in Early Conciliation.

All negotiations /discussions via the LRA in this process are protected and cannot be relied upon by either party in later proceedings.

If a conciliated settlement cannot be reached, or either party does not wish to engage in early conciliation, the LRA will issue an Early Conciliation certificate. This certificate contains a reference number which can be used to lodge Tribunal proceedings.

There are a limited number of exemptions where a Potential Claimant is not required to engage in early Conciliation.

In some circumstances you are required by law to set out certain information in writing, for example, within a disciplinary procedure.

A well-written handbook also provides employees with a clear understanding of the working relationship and emphasises the organisation’s expectations.

The handbook sets out the business policies and procedures. By providing clear, accessible information, handbooks ensure that everyone knows exactly what’s required of them and allows employers to present their expectations in a comprehensible and consistent manner.

Yes, we offer a retainer service whereby we provide continuous and ongoing day-to-day employment law advice on a fixed monthly fee.

Whilst some clients prefer to engage us on an ad hoc project-by-project basis, others may feel more comfortable knowing that we are available to advise on any day-to-day HR issue they may have.

Once we have discussed your needs as a business we will propose and agree a bespoke service package and cost-effective fee arrangement.

We understand that dealing with employment law issues as an employee can be complex and sometimes daunting. Our team are here to help.

We will listen to you, provide you with an opinion on the merits of any claim you may have, and help you navigate the issue in a way to help you achieve the best possible outcome. We will agree a course of action in collaboration with you and involve you in each stage of the decision-making process.

Some of the areas we can assist you with are:

Unfair dismissal;
Breaches of contract;
Discrimination;
Employment status;
Equal pay;
Harassment;
Grievance, capability, and disciplinary procedures;
Compromise agreements;
Mediation; and
Tribunal representation.

Exit from Employment

If the employment relationship has broken down irretrievably, we can assist you with exit negotiations and obtaining an agreed exit package where appropriate. We can advise you on how to initiate a conversation with your employer to see whether there is scope to negotiate a termination package in a way that doesn’t prejudice any other remedy you may have. Before taking such a step, we will ensure that there are grounds to seek such a move and assess the value of any potential claims to ensure we have a good basis for negotiations.

We appreciate that seeking legal advice in relation to your employer can be a sensitive matter and we will ensure that full discretion, confidentiality and professionalism is maintained at all times.

During and after your employment we can assist with a range of matters, including: advising on grievance procedure; advising on discrimination, harassment or victimisation; advising on disciplinary process; negotiating settlement agreements, compromise agreements and exit plans; drafting, lodging and representing claims to the Tribunal; and negotiating settlement terms for claims.

Claims for discrimination in the workplace can arise if you have a ‘protected characteristic’ and suffer less favourable treatment in the workplace as a result of it. Protected characteristics include: age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, gender, racial group, religion or belief, political opinion and sexual orientation.

Direct discrimination is when an employee is treated less favourably based on their protected characteristic, for example, passing up a female for a job promotion simply because she is a female.

Indirect discrimination may occur when an employer puts in place a policy, practice or criteria that applies to all workers but has the consequence of putting certain individuals, who hold a protected characteristic, at a disadvantage. For example, operating a policy that rewards good attendance without making exceptions within it to discount pregnancy related absences.

There are also specific obligations in relation to disabled workers, in order to facilitate an individual’s medical needs, known as providing reasonable adjustments. A failure to provide reasonable adjustments can also be held to be discriminatory treatment. For example, failing to provide a wheelchair accessible desk for you if you need to use a wheelchair in the office due to your disability.

If you believe you have suffered discrimination at work, our Employment Law team can discuss this in detail with you and advise you of your options. Please note there are very short and strict time limits for employment claims so you should not delay in getting good quality legal advice on these matters.

If an employer has terminated a contract of employment without what a Tribunal would find to be a fair reason and/or without following the statutory procedures, there may be a claim for unfair dismissal.

We can advise you on the nature of your dismissal, whether you have a claim and what you may expect regarding compensation if your claim is successful. In most circumstances you will need to be employed for at least one year to claim unfair dismissal however there are some exceptions to this.

Please note there are very short and strict time limits for employment claims so you should not delay in getting good quality legal advice on these matters.

In most circumstances anyone wishing to lodge an employment claim with the Tribunal must first notify the Labour Relations Agency (“LRA”). If prospective claimants are open to it the LRA will attempt Early Conciliation to establish if the claim can be resolved prior to proceedings issuing.

The LRA will contact the prospective respondent to establish if they are also willing to engage in Early Conciliation.

All negotiations /discussions via the LRA in this process are protected and cannot be relied upon by either party in later proceedings.

If a conciliated settlement cannot be reached, or either party does not wish to engage in early conciliation, the LRA will issue an Early Conciliation certificate. This certificate contains a reference number which can be used to lodge Tribunal proceedings.

There are a limited number of exemptions where a Potential Claimant is not required to engage in early Conciliation.

We are very experienced in representing clients through the Early Conciliation process and have been successful in securing some settlements during or shortly after conclusion of this process.

Legal aid is only available for employment law matters in very limited circumstances. In the majority of cases, employment law advice will be self-funded. It is however advisable for individuals to review their home insurance policy to enquire whether or not you are covered for employment related legal expenses as this may provide funding for an employment case. If you think you do have insurance it is important to be aware that you are entitled to independent representation by a representative of your choice and you do not have to use an insurer panel firm. We can review your policy and liaise with your insurer free of charge to advise you on this if you are unclear as to what is covered.

Yes – this is an area we can assist with. We understand that the termination of your employment is a major event which needs thorough consideration. We can advise you on the content of the Compromise/Settlement Agreement before you sign it. This advice can include whether the financial offer is adequate along with a discussion on any other matters that may be relevant such as potential claims you may have and the implication of restrictive covenants contained within your contract.

We have regularly been successful in negotiating substantial additional compensation over and above what was initially offered by the employer for clients who instruct us in relation to these agreements.

The distinction between being employed and self-employed may not always be clear and problems may arise. There has been a great deal of recent case law in this area with wide-reaching implications. If you are concerned that you have been mislabelled as self-employed, we can advise you on how best to address this.

Due to the high-demand for our service, we are not in a position to offer free consultations.

Given employment cases are usually self-funded, it is very important to us that the service we provide to our clients is of a very high standard, and therefore we often cannot facilitate requests for free consultations. We hope that you understand.

If you are unable to afford privately funded independent legal advice from us, we would recommend you contact some of the other organisations set up to provide free support (such as the Labour Relations Agency, the Equality Commission or Citizen’s Advice) however please be aware these bodies are often very busy and have limitations in terms of how much they can do to assist you compared with a privately funded independent solicitor.

Frederick Reilly
Solicitor
fr@mkblaw.co.uk
028 9099 3157

“I’ve used MKB Law on two separate occasions; and I can say that they have provided me with expert and timely guidance and management of my employment / contractual dispute issues. Suzanne Keenan and Amy Collins are extremely knowledgeable in employment law and their great work and communication was absolutely essential in reaching a successful resolution of my case. I can safely recommend them to anyone who needs expert help with a work-related legal issue.”

Mr B – Jan 2021

Suzanne Keenan was outstanding in every way and extremely knowledgeable in employment law. When I reached out to her, I had almost given up, but she went that extra mile to help me and am very glad she did. She is a wonderful genuine person, who has a personal way with her whilst being very professional. I would gladly recommend Suzanne and her team to anyone needing employment advice and would tell them not to think twice about considering anyone else. Thank you for everything.”

Ms A – Dec 2020

Experienced

Our experience and expertise allow our team to provide an unrivalled service to all clients.

Personal

Our personal understanding ensures our clients are at the forefront of our services.

Flexible

Our team provides clear legal guidance to complement your business structure.

Specialised

Our clients span all industries, from technology to agriculture and hospitality to renewables.

Or please call us on 028 9024 2450 or email info@mkblaw.co.uk

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