Your employment rights and how legal cover can help

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Do you worry that something’s not right at work and you’re heading for a showdown with your employer?  Have you good reason to suspect it could all end up in court? And if it did, could you afford to hire the right legal representation to achieve a satisfactory outcome?Underinsurance-House-Money-Risk

There are many reasons you can get in to a dispute with your employer. Some of the most common include unfair and wrongful dismissal, redundancy, discrimination, harassment, equal pay and victimisation.

If you do, having legal assistance cover could help you with what can be a very awkward, stressful and possibly costly situation.

Number of employment rights cases is growing

The statistics show people are now far more willing than in previous decades to try and protect their employment rights.

According to figures from the Employment Tribunal Services, 38,000 industrial tribunals took place in the UK in 1985, whereas today more than 100,000 occur each year.

Whatever the reason for the dispute, being able to call on the services of a solicitor who is an expert in the field of employment law can make the difference between receiving possibly tens, or even hundreds, of thousands in compensation, or nothing. Or worse, you may even be fined yourself.

You may have legal cover already, but don’t know it

One way of ensuring you’re able to afford to hire good quality legal representation is through legal expenses insurance, or legal cover as it’s also known.

And what a lot of people don’t realise is that the cover comes as standard with some higher quality home insurance policies. So before you reach for the phone and start paying a fortune for a solicitor you’ve probably never dealt with before, the first thing to do is check the terms of your home cover.

However, many policies won’t include protection for legal battles, but it can usually be bought as an ‘add on’ to your existing policy, often for not more than a few pounds each month.

What you get in return

Insurers that offer such cover expect you to contact them at the start of any dispute. They’ll then put you in touch with legal experts who can guide you through the process with your employer, offering expert advice and possibly legal representation either in the work place or court, or both if necessary.

Your legal fees should be covered (although exclusions do apply, see below) a figure of up to £500,000 is common, or this can be much more, largely depending on the quality and cost of a policy.

The insurer will recommend solicitors for you, but you usually have the right to select an independent one of your choice to act on your behalf if you wish.

Here’s what you might need in the event you had to make a claim on legal cover:

  • A copy of your contract of employment – If you don’t have one, written evidence of a job description or terms of employment will usually be needed.
  • Details of correspondence – Make notes about your grievance, and document all correspondence with your employer regarding it, including complaints and warning letters.
  • Timetable of events – You’ll need to be very clear about the sequence of events, so, again, make detailed notes right from the start.
  • Disciplinary procedures – Details of any disciplinary procedures an employer has carried out, including disciplinary letters, emails and correspondence
  • The remedy you’re seeking – You’ll need a firm idea of what you want to be done to remedy the situation. This could be having your job re-instated, for example, or a certain amount of salary as compensation. Your legal help can guide you on this.

Exclusions – Where it can’t help you

Unfortunately, legal cover won’t be there to provide assistance whatever the circumstances of your claim.

Here are a number of common exclusions:

  • Cover start date – The date of the event which triggered your claim, such as being dismissed without notice, must not precede the start date of your cover.
  • 180 days – Many legal cover policies require that you begin a claim within 180 days of the date you became aware of the dispute starting.ƒ
  • Defamation  (also known as libel or slander) – Most, if not all, legal expenses cover won’t protect you in claims arising from defamation, such as a dispute over comments made about you by an employer in a reference. This doesn’t include comments which could be construed as harassment or unlawful discrimination (for example based in race or religion).
  • Alleged dishonesty and/or violent behaviour – Often, legal insurance won’t cover you for cases where claims have been made against you in relation to dishonesty or violence. For example, if you’ve been accused of stealing a computer by your employer, your insurer wouldn’t be able to help.

Policy Expert

We have a real passion for making sure people get the cover that’s right for them. We’re driven by a desire to help you find not only the best value insurance, but the right insurance for your individual needs. For more information speak to one of our experts on 0203 014 9300 or email ask@policyexpert.co.uk

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Policy Expert.