Employers

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.

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

MKB Law understands business. We are pleased to work with clients across a range of sectors, including:

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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