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#0. introduction - skip this

#1. which employment laws?

#2. telephone employment law

#3. look up employment law

#4. employment law solicitors

#5. add your name

DIY Employment Law for sacked employees

#0. introduction

#1. find which employment laws apply to you
with an automated system to guide you through the flow diagram.

#2. check ideas by phone:
employment law help lines include ACAS 08457 47 47 47 Mo-Fr 8-6
They prefer callers to try their automated question page first at the bottom of the linked page.

#3. check the basic position in employment law,
and the text of laws & case law on Emplaw and Bailii or Casecheck

#4. find an employment law solicitor at this stage, or claim yourself.

#5. add your name if you are interested in joining a proper union
because some of the current big ones are a scam. This idea has not caught-on over the few years this site has been online, so with luck someone else will find a way to do it better. /startyourownunion.html is a popular page.

The idea is to learn the minimum possible law in the shortest possible time to sue in the 3-month time limit, recovering your nerves a little & seeking or doing other work. This is an unusual thing for any court to ask, but in employment law, it's thought that justice is increased by hearing less cases. Anyone after 3 months who could physically have got to a court letterbox earlier is barred, despite the letter of the law which says "reasonable".

So the damage done to individuals can be as great as in criminal offences, but the system is different.

  • Nobody asks a crime victim to value the time lost, so that victims who are old or ill get less.

  • Nobody asks a crime victim to do their own police work, provide a file of evidence and organise a prosecution while recovering & trying get on with their lives. The police are not like a paid-for service, but they are free at the piont of use. It's possible to think "I've called the police and helped them when asked: I've done all I can".

  • Nobody sets-up a union system to help crime victims, and then uses lawyers who avoid contact & refuse to take the file of evidence. These are lawyers who's only purpose is to suck-up to the other side, claim a minimal amount for neusance plus legal fees and then pay commission out of that to the union. If the crown prosecution service did that for crime victims, it would be controversial. If union lawyers do that for the same people at work, it's all too much trouble for anyone to report.

  • Most people expect the future behaviour of criminals to be important.
    Compensation for victims isn't an important point; a guilty or not guilty verdict is the point of a trial. Probation or time off for good behaviour in prison are accepted, particularly for prisoners who show remorse, while the catching of a repeat criminal is a point of pride. In employment law, both sides are allowed to settle and there is a risk of costs being found against a complainant if they don't, so an employer that has trouble staying out of court is allowed to practice over and over so they can bully better next time, while the person they asked to do wrong can get a job at another bank or social work agency or whatever. No wonder large employers don't work. One of the bosses in my management chain was a kind of Gorden Ramsey character. Eventually she left, and took-up a job well-away from London where she wasn't known. For some reason her new emloyer - New Highway - collapsed. She was last heard of at TurningPoint. Maybe that will collapse too.

  • A lot of criminals have an idea that they have done wrong & been caught
    No such concept exists among employers claim government grants to ask employees to do the impossible and then plot against them instead of helping. No such concept exists among union officials that rip-off members. The nearest is some sense of reality that dawns on employers when they get a tribunal form in the post, but it's not like being arrested and it doesn't seem to effect their careers; it's more like discovering that they have dry rot in the loft or forgot to pay their gas bill. As for trades union people, they seem to live in a separate world outside of economic legal processes or fair media criticism. The only criticism they get is criticism for being troublemakers, which helps recruitment. Criticism from members simply goes in the bin.

  • Henchpeople remain loyal
    Criminals are taken to police stations. With luck they state that they were the catburglers or muggers or faudsters or theives of the operation and that the cat mug fraud & thieving planner was the big fish of the operation. They hope for time off their sentence. In employment law, the opposite is true. A cat, mug, fraud, or theif worker hopes to stay in post or maybe get a reference from the big fish if they pretend that all mistakes were theirs; Mr Machiavelli the director had nothing to do with a system of bullying that might have existed in the organisation. That's the story. Whatever the hopes for rewarded loyalty, it's hard to get rid of a loony middle manager if everyone is too frightened to give evidence so the directors and middle managers might be stuck in business together for a while.

  • Employment law is a recent addition to civil law with its own tribunal system.
    People aren't use to spotting repeat offenders
    A contractor who tried to do building work or car repairs would have trouble getting new customers after showing-up on the London Gazette for bankrupcy or register of county court judgements, with a case-against awarded to a disgruntled customer. They would have trouble getting customers if they just sat in meetings and plotted all day. But no such tradition exists with employment law: an employer can have trouble keeping out of court and still get repeat public sector funding while the individuals who did bad things can persue their careers wreaking havoc wherever they go, sitting in meetings and plotting against their colleagues instead of providing a service to the public. Employment appeals used to be about traditional employers in trades like dredging or fish filleting that had not caught-up with the times. Now they are about taxpayer-funded organisations and their employees with their mutual pots. Are these employers an easy target? Possibly. Do they do work which is hard to define? Often. Are they silted-up with bad quality procedures and documents which don't chose the right staff? Yes. But another problem is that they can move grant money under the counter to pay another tribunal case. Other mad employers find that their insurance premiums rise if they take-out legal insurance. Contractors to government can simply divert our money and forge their returns to say that it went on some public service as intended, like hepling victems of crime.

Employment appeal cases, which are published, tend to list several points which "have no reasonable prospect of success" and then make a big deal of some point of principal. "No reasonable prospect" might mean the judge didn't understand while trying to read them on train. Maybe a fat person with loads of shopping squeezed onto the same double seat. This will be a judge used to self-employment and not sure about the complex bullying techniques of a mad employer. The same process applies in ordinary cases, with a "pre hearing review" now allowing judges to exclude a lot of the case while sitting alone or with any lawyers who turn-up, and the judges are pressured with performance targets to do just that. If a trade union lawyer who is no-win no-fee and pays commission to the union is involved, they might even refuse to take any evidence from the client and not tell the tribunal chair that it exists.

Out of all the complainants with injury to feelings, some get their claims thrown out by someone who hasn't understood the case, some get thrown-out because the case law on things like time limits is injust, and some who may be least deserving get a huge excess of damages because the employer cannot prove they had a written procedure in place on the day of the event. Obviously they didn't because they were doing a useful job unlike the tribunal service which is taxpayer funded but hey. So everybody is unhappy and everybody pays but the in-built snobbery of the system and how it is reported keeps it going without a murmur of complaint. The fault is ours that we do not put it right, although as someone who has tried to contact an MP I have to say that debate is difficult.

Those employers who are not focussed on anything in particular - in social services, housing associations, colleges, the arts - are able to spend time & cash plotting against their employees who are at the tops of pay scales, rivals for promotion or taking maternity leave rather than directing their employees. They like to be called "Chief Executive" rather than director and delegate the dirty to henchmen with titles like "Head of doing things". Maybe public funded directors bully anyone who comes to their attention: people who are too black when a ward or service of an NHS trust wants to look more straight-laced, or too white when a council department or voluntary organisation is basically black; too popular and so offensive to a disliked director, or too unpopular and so an easy target. Senior staff would argue that some of the junior ones are chancers too, surviving on the back of a badly-written contract that doesn't say that they have to do anything to get paid, earbash in meetings and leave their work to the rest. This logic leads to tolerance of bullying as a way of getting rid of the worst - sometimes the ones who get in the way because they are doing a lot of the work without any help from the top. Junior staff would argue that they are in fact brain surgeons and rocket scientists doing a good job with no help and a Machiavelli for boss who can't even sort out a fair job contract. To see what public-funded employees really get from the top see

So just about everyone and particularly politicians fail the employee who has deliberately been driven to a nervous breakdown for fun. This one-page guide is in the style of the's guides to getting consumer revenge, in the hope that someone can make the system work.

No-win no-fee employment lawyers make very little money to pay for tidying-up a case, so the more homework you can do the better even if you can persuade a no-win no-fee employment law solicitor to sit-in with you or put your case. Unions and their no-win no-fee employment law solicitors can be worse than useless - for example in the case on the Unison-lawyers.html page, and chasing them can take time away from what you want to do. Unison and Unite-T&G have admitted to using no-win no-fee lawyers for personal injury cases and T&G has been caught going further, and charging the lawyers for the privelage of getting a claim. An Amicus campaign document estimates that all TUC unions do it. People who have read this site and done their best to prepare a case against a bullying employer have still been turned-down by every no-win no-fee lawyer they can find, so there is still a need for informal union-rep work and formal legal insurance. The rest of this site is an informed rant about union failures and if you want to start your own union please sign-up or set-up your own site along these lines.

#0 DIY Employment Law introduction: imagine you have a disaster at work.

  • If there's nothing to suggest any kind of disaster looming, but you are cautious, get legal insurance from a broker. It tends not to be available online except with home contents insurance; but brokers can get it separately for ten or twenty pounds a year. As with union membership, companies probably sell an introduction to a chain of no-win-no-fee lawyers as though it were insurance, and as though this should be legal, which it is and shouldn't be. The company may pay no insurance premium tax on your subscription. You can probably find out. DAS legal insureres claimed that their "only source of income" was bribes from lawyers who want the more lucrative personal injury claims and are willing to fob-off the more common and loss-making employment claimants as a kind of cross subsidy. But legal insureres are at least half sane about providing legal services and have some sense of shame if caught out while if you have a union membership, which could be a good thing to do, there is probably only an implied contract rather than a written one. Any written contract or implied service from leaflets is unlikely to be as good as documents from firms that register with the financial services authority. So trade union's opportunities for exploiting sacked members are greater. Also the underdog volunteer tradition of trades unions is not a written, contractual tradition and allows a far great degree of bullshit than the dodgiest legal insurer would dare to say or write on a lavatory wall. A feature of union statements in employment appeal tribunals here and there against their members is that they do not seem to know that what they are doing is wong, very much like the public-funded employers that members are typically up against.

  • If you don't have legal insurance, there are still things that can be done of which changing jobs is sadly often the best followed by DIY employment law. If you do use a no-win no-fee lawyer, or a your trade union uses no-win no-fee lawyers without telling you, the more DIY work you can do for them the better. Some people put their own tribunal cases and unpaid union reps can do useful things in a crisis too, dispite union-failure.htm page.

  • Keep a work-diary of events and a home journal of thoughts; try to keep vital papers like a job contract, staff handbook, supervision minutes and unreasonable memos at home. If this seems far fetched, that's why you should do it: some people don't.

    Memos may be designed to needle & provoke you by deliberate misunderstanding. Even Gerry Robinson got one in his "Can Gerry Robinson sort out the NHS?" programme. The BBC report showed him agreeing that the top of the hierarchy should bash down and tighten up the bottom, but the detail of the programme showed the Chief Executive of Rotherham hospital attempting a botched unfair dismissal on Gerry Robinson who wasn't even an employee. It must have been a well-practiced habit to be tried on television in such a botched way. "I find this nit-picking increadably frustrating", said the presenter. "That was the intention", says the courtier. Later: "you can't sack anyone except in a rather Machiavellian way". The courtier does not disagree. Later in the programme a middle-aged anaesthetist with a pretty secure-looking job is asked about management. "I may be shortening my career by saying this..." he begins. The government courtier who authorises sackings writes "remember: I have to manage upwards and sideways as well as downwards"in a web-discussion later, to explain why he does his real job so little that people don't even know his face round the hospital: courtiership is the priority. People in the private sector might ask why they pay taxes to a courtier who does not visit the operating theatres, believes in the "rather Machiavellian way" and doesn't criticise stupid government re-organsiations that take-up all of his time like moving half the business of casualty up the road to call it "community".The reason why these are the best people we can vote-in are elusive, and the frustration of thinking about the big-picture and your own career all at once just add to the burden of an unfair dismissal.

    Taking stuff home may be last thing you want to do. If it comes by email, copy it to yourself on a private account. If you want a record of an email sent to your boss, send it from a private account even if at work (she will still deny getting it, but it's better than loosing all email evidence if the worst happens). And: about needling. I found it impossible never to say something that could be quoted-back to make me look unreasonable. And I was trying from the start to consider anything I said to be potential evidence against me, because I knew I was returning to work after an illness and I knew what bastards employers can be. Maybe you can do better. Imagine you are writing to the employment tribunal with a copy to your employer. Likewise, I have found that every employer that tries to bully tends to keep defiant employees. If you are an employer trying to get rid of staff you don't want, please don't bully: it only encourages them to read sites like this and hang-on to the job instead of leaving. Maybe pay them to leave or find some legal way to make them redundant, perhaps including them in the process of working out how you do it.

    If you have given-up the job, keep a record of attempts to find work as the law wrongly assumes you are getting compensation for your lost earnings rather than trying to get a criminal nailed.[1]

  • Talk to someone for clarity.
    Try to find someone who will help you collect your thoughts and your files as you find out about the law.
    Clarity is the hardest part, because a case is likely to come of long-felt grievances and then intense stress, after which it is difficult to fit familiar things to an outsider's perspective.
    One book, Bully in sight by Tim Field ISBN 0952912104, relates the stress involved to post traumatic stress diagnosis. It is easy to under-estimate the effect on mental health of an unfair dismissal after months or years of trying to resist it. If this applies in part to you, others around you will have noticed it and be bored or scared by it. To say "I need your help in being clear because this is quite stressful", is better than implying "I find this quite stressful so I need you to act lawyer in this thing I'm always going-on about". links to a petition to allow ombudsmen to investigate public sector bullying - sadly not mentioning the public-funded voluntary sector. It isn't a discussion group but has some interesting links. is a web site about an employment and stress case from the employees perspective. Imagine you're a lawyer and give yourself exactly two minutes to see where a lawyer can fit-in. Or the rambling back-pages of this site, Complexity is a problem for employees, as public sector managers for example have nothing much to do except plot against their subordinates, each other and their funders. They do not want to know what real people do in case they can be blamed; they prefer to keep a distance and live in a parallel universe, bigging-up the difficulties of hiring and firing, reading the bank statement or calling a plumber while ignoring the difficult jobs like teaching in a university, being a brain surgeon, or a rocket scientist. In any of these cases it's likely that managers have deliberately set-up employees to fail by pinching notes about a tricky lecture, brain, or rocket in the hope that a rival or an awkward subordinate will make a mistake and can then be sacked. Likewise they have probably overworked their subordinates in order to keep more money at the top, or at least to keep more blame at the bottom of the heirachy. Re-reading that sentence it seems bizarre but true. Maybe a rocket really has been saboutaged by a senior manager who wants to show-up the faults of a junior one, a brain operation saboutaged in order to end the career of the surgeon, and certainly an opera by a university music department has been described like this on the web site.

    In partial ignorance, distance, and in suspician of what their staff do it is easy for machiavellis to ignore a build-up of problems over years and to interpret real attempts to make the best of them as trouble-making. When things go wrong and funders, trustees or rivals for power demand action, then the old explanation that it's the junior staff's fault but you have to make allowances is tested: directors are instructed to pull the levers of power harder and unfair dismissals result.

    In organisations where there is only one management line (plus the fraudulent union) blame will tend to be passed to the bottom of the management line while credit will be passed to the top. There is no second opinion who a stressed director can consult before risking a sacking.

    Outsiders like broadcasters tend to assume that the employer has made the work and that the dispute is about some unfairness or discrimination that leads to an overly sudden end. Those at the top of the hierachy are assumed to be interested in their organisations's work with patients, pupils, rockets and the like except for a few bad-apples who can quickly be found out by a few questions from the tribunal. It is not thought that Machiavellis run large organisations where subordinates good or bad work is not measured and manager's plots are deliberately concealed over long periods.

    So the assumption is that an employer has made the work, sackings are a fact of life, and that a few bad apples among employers can quickly be found out within perfomance targets set to the tribunal service by the government, for example by weeding-out weak claims at pre-hearing reviews where one Chair sits alone and decides on a whim what is stong evidence even if he has not read the evidence. Tribunals are different from criminal courts. Outcomes are in payments of money rather than declarations of guilt and take account of the complainant's efforts to get another job. Conduct like pressuring witnesses not to appear, paying the other side to withdraw the case, or asking the other side for costs if they loose are discouraged or encouraged and certainly taken as facts of life in tribunal cases where a criminal court would see them as obviously bad and wicked and things to be banged-up for. Yob things.

    If someone is unpleasant and unfair, but creates a job which someone fills for a time, then employment law makes some sense of the departure. This is where it starts from. But even here it is too complex. The reason it is complex is that over the years, practitioners have recognised other situations where the consequences are at least as important as in criminal law: the person driven to a nervous breakdown by discrimination at the only employer in town, for example, is rightly allowed much higher levels of compensation if they win. High payouts are also possible in cases that start as procedural failings: an employer has such badly written long set of procedures (or none at all) that nobody could prove that procedure was followed, and jumping briefly to health and safety law there is the issue of whether a risk assessment was carried-out. It may be a tick in a box but if it was not carried out in a provable way that is guilt, even to judges who like the rest of us do not record risk assessments of their decisions at home.

    A kind of snakes-and-ladders game of special cases has emerged. Can't argue your case very clearly? Snake. Spotted a procedural flaw in an otherwise fair sacking? Ladder. Discrimination? Ladder. Union lawyer tries to muck up your case? Snake.

    In the game of snakes and ladders, some people have much more time to play than others. On the employees' side the lazy sod who goes off-sick on day one of the job and hopes for some procedural flaw in the sacking has plenty of time. When I was off sick for stress from a job, I asked someone I knew at an agency for less stressful work. She gave me two day's work compiling the time sheets of a social worker off-sick from Harringay who was photographed doing social work jobs at another London borough. This social worker had plenty of time to play with employment law because the taxpayer and vulnerable child were not on her list of priorities.

    On the employer's side public-funded managers seem to appear in tribunal cases more than most according to the appeals judgements which are free and online.

    Mock advert: Are you lonely? Tired of Being on your own? Do you hate making decisions? HOLD A MEETING! You can see people, show cahrts, feel important, point with a stickm eat donuts, impress your colleagues. All in company time! MEETINGS: A PRACTICAL ALTERNATIVE TO WORKBig organisation managers are Machiavellis & the problem is greater in the pubic funded sector than the private funded sector. Machiavellis play full time, like hardened criminals committing crimes & with similar consequences for their victims. They can spin jargon where subordinates have to do a proper job - sometimes a responsible one with no help from them, paid-for used by all of us. The idea pops into their heads that they could hinder the job (or ask a handpicked henchmen to do it by rudeness threat & hint) so that maybe 99 people get the wrong leg cut off in hospital, number 100 complains & the complaint gets rid of the troublemaker surgeon. Maybe not the bad or lazy surgeon, but the one who has come to the Machiavelli's attention. This has all been documented on video for the open university.

    When they are so used to it that they leave cocky clues, the clues need time & care to interpret in context - criminals' clues or managers' clues are the same. The tribunal system was never set-up with a police force & juries and a Crown Prosecution Service to handle this. It is more like a magistrates court. The targets set for them (read out in Parliament by Pat McFaddon, a T&G sponsored MP elected on low turnout in Wolverhampton) take even less account of the complexity of a case where an employer deliberately tries to conceal motives & works for months or years with the idea of confusing a tribunal in mind. (Oh he was the MP who gave two union modernisation grants to the T&G.)'s employment law lawyer finder service asks you to state your case in a three inch square box; gives half a page and the employment tribunal form allows a few hundred words. The legal system is more like a small claims court than a criminal court, geared to assessing simple known facts so that the two sides can settle for small amounts of money.

    Newly self-taught law is hard to get to grips with too, when you recover the ability to research it and find that others are intimidated by your efforts. I went to a CAB and saw a volunteer who said things like "is that really the law?" while looking at the CAB website and my notes, but attempting to explain myself to another person was a help. People who you live with may be too closely bound-up in your own stress and the history of your case ever to rehearse it with you or ask you what happened. Some people you know may not be legally-minded - they may think more about relationships between people - but others might think legally and be willing to help you rehearse. Often as you become marked as a trouble maker or are suspended from work, colleagues will be instructed not to contact you as well.

    Just say you want peoples' help in being clear, not their legal help in double-checking all your frightening research.

  • Write a long draft and expect to cut more than half for the final shorter draft.

    It is perfectly sane and sensible to try and put-in every new-found law and every angle of grief into a first draft of complaint to an employment tribunal, in order not to miss anything. Anyway, the sheer stain of trying to hold every defence in your head is enough to make you want to write it down somewhere, whether a journal or a long draft, and stress or such may have had an effect on short term memory. When waking up at three in the morning thinking about work, it could be good to write down the other side's concealed logical links that have just come to mind. "He did that because of X Y and Z, not W." It's good to do emotionally and good to try to nail a serial-bad-person who has a lot of experience of wrongdoing and avoidance of responsibility for it. Some people write their final complaint by hand and are even more notorious amongst lawyers, but maybe you or someone you know can edit the realisations and jottings to something that an unsympathetic person thinks is a summery.

  • My guess is that DIY cases are best put as DIY cases by you to the chair, with a last-minute lawyer sitting-in to advise if available. You can explain why you put everything in. To let a last-minute lawyer put a case could be the worst of both worlds. To a tribunal chair, you are represented: the importance of
    "Dealing with a case justly includes, so far as practicable: - [...] ensuring that the parties are on an equal footing"
    does not so clearly apply. The next point on his job description of pressure to act fast still applies and this one is quantifiable and enforced by bosses according to targets read-out in Parliament by a Transport and General Workers' Union MP. Also, a lawyer's habit of always dealing with representatives where possible, and a spoken or unspoken pressure not to point out the faults of trades unions all work in the employer's favour:

    "They haven't got time to think about all that", one lawyer from Which Legal Service told me;
    "They just notice whether you are represented or not".

    The fact you have had to study law while you should have been recovering from the stress caused by the other side may not be stated, while the other side's insurance company's lawyers will be keen to show-up your weaknesses, and make you look like a mad nuisance chancer running up costs in order to ask for a settlement. The impact of employer's action on you seems to be subject to a fluid and obscure area of law.

    You can see the process in reverse in the Unison v Jervis case where the union's expensive barrister pretends she doesn't know why the case is so late and why there are so many papers that are more than three months old. Any tribunal chair should know why. It is because the union failed to help their member and he had to teach himself law while stressed-out and centre-stage. But tribunal chairs are under pressure to deal with cases quickly and I think under political pressure not to embarrass trades unions who fund the party that gives them their jobs. I got the same tribunal chair who's judgment was overturned in on appeal for Unison a few months earlier. It was another case of a union doing so badly for a member that he should have told me what had gone-on in part of the pre-hearing review that the union lawyer has asked me not to attend. When I discovered that the whole case had been messed-up without any evidence being shown (the lawyer had refused to take any from me, or my disability discrimination questionnaire or grievance letter or to make-up a bundle, as well as being factually wrong about the law on time limits) I asked the chair to bear this in mind in his written judgment as

    " case is not against the T&G".
    "I cannot do that and I think you know the reason why not".

    I guess he meant pressure on tribunal chairs not to criticise union institutions. Otherwise it would be odd to talk in riddles.
    It's not just me and my chair's riddle that say this. Two ex- Unite - TGW officials argued it, but in their case the chair disagreed.
    She would say that, wouldn't she?

  • Appeal Judgments are good examples of how judges like cases stated. Fine points of law & exotic arguments distract from the basic legal position, but read them for style, clarity and interest.

#1 To find which employment laws apply to you:

  • looks as though it only works on apple iphones. The same lawyers used to write it online for Andrea Adams Trust where you may have come-accross it.

  • - puts the employment law flow diagram online. This is funded by people who use the Iambeingfired service to find a lawyer, but the marginal cost of each use of their web site is next to zero so there should be no sense of obligation to use them rather than follow suggestions in step 4, below, or try the Just Employment Law email and telephone service because it advertises on the right and I am biassed. Or People Per Hour but their adverts seem less common now; you could try going to their site and then back to this one.

  • Direct.Gov.UK/Employees(ex ) is aimed at people still at work and trying to negotiate on detail. (New employers get this).
  • publishes free-to-download booklets including cross-references and book lists. In case that link isn't working, these are back-ups:Claimants Companion (March 2008) is here and Identifying Employment Cases (February 2008) . Then get the most up-to-date copy as soon as possible.
  • Rapidocs' online grievance letter template offers some background notes and a step-by-step approach to writing a grievance letter and a grievance appeal with guidance notes. Various online services allow you to play with the letter template for free while a lot of the words are greyed-out (even if you cut-and-paste) and add paid-for services like a charge to download the full letter or an extra charge for telephone advice.

    Usually employees' employment law is right at the bottom of the list of what they cover under a family and personal law section, if they have one, and grievance is as the bottom of the employment law list if they include it, because it is the most messy. Search the infolaw page for "epoq" to find sites offering the service. At the last look, Desktop Lawyer and AA legal included the grievance letter service and grievance appeal letter at £8 each, while Halifax Legal Express leaves it off the list. MyLawyer charges £65 for the two with qualified legal help by telephone if you want it. There is a small discount on MyLawyer services via Topcashback and some adverts on the right as well.
    ...lits this an any other employment law document services that might be emerging.
  • When trying to make sense of events, it may turn-out that the law is no help because at base it assumes that the job was your manager's to give-and-take, with compensation for extremes of behaviour which leave you suddenly out of work. Mrs Craddock created the job for Sally, but withdrew it unreasonably fast leaving her months of job-seeking before she could work for Mr Ramsey.

    In some instances this idea has clashed with claimants' tribunals' and law makers' ideas sense of reality and so "injury to feelings" and "discrimination" have been bolted-on to the system. A good and well-argued case by a lawyer can have these points added and in theory a case by a claimant can have them added too, but a case put by a no-win no-fee lawyer acting secretly to pay money to a union or a claims management agency has no chance: the lawyer would settle before reading the evidence. If you have so little money that you can get legal aid (now renamed legal help) it only pays for about 4½ hours of preparation and no representation, which most lawyers find is not enough to help them or you so they don't accept it. A small exception exists for complex cases in Scotland.

One lawyer working for Thompsons, the largest chain of lawyers acting just for trade unions, argued quite rightly that Machiavellis who deliberately as part of a kind of game of work force a nervous breakdown on someone who's career and duty are the same - to run a childrens' home or to be head of maths for example - should be convicted of assault. Obviously they should, with clear conviction and declaration of guilt, and with the help of the police and the crown prosecution service.

At first judges agreed. They still agree a few times a year in theory, when they hear appeal cases for psychiatric injury in a batch, but there is no way of finding any sense in how they pick the one token case to let-though or the other several to turn-down on appeal. They do not want to judge psychiatric injury cases against Machaiavellis. They said so. They would prefer some kind of system of regulations that they can judge. In effect they are on strike until MPs go to work and set-up a more detailed by which they can do their job. MPs are also on strike, preferring to pretend to be local councillors to get in the local paper or just claim expenses or both because they have no chance of influencing politics and don't want to say so. So both MPs an judges are more or less on strike.

The Blair government and it's focus groups and gleaners of Daily Mail headlines has also made Harassment a crimenal offence. It acknowledges threats and harrasement in the street and tries to judge it, but a recent case has removed threats to your job from the definition of harassment. Car, yes; job no. (I think). So far as I can tell the legal test is this. Imagine you have become Tony Blair, looking back at the person you were a second ago. Would he think the person a yob? Well he's an odd person, but for electoral purposes he probably uses focus groups paid for by back-handers from unions he would rather not know: Yob? Mail Reader? Confusingly, there is no record of people using focus group evidence in court to say "I know the system is set up to get Daily Mail headlines for the governing pary, your honour, and focus group research shows just that for my case.". A jury system might be better but while psychiatric-injury judges are on a strike or a work-to-rule, and harassment cases are judged by telegraph-readers, the judicial system doesn't work. It is paid a lot of money but it doesn't work.

What has happened is this. Imagine you work in the Sunderland portacabin where drivers pay fines and towing fees to remove cars from a car pound after a warden has claimed that the car was illegally parked before towing-away. You are frightened of two people. Your bullying boss with his machiavellian schemes and your car-less drivers with their various opinions that may they may express by smashing portakabin windows. The drivers that is. If the drivers do it it is obviously harassment. They are obviously yobs. They live in Sunderland after all. But if your boss does it is is not harassment according to the law lords. Alan Ward, who we pay to be one of these Law Lords added

"What on earth is the world coming to if conduct of the kind that occurred in the third [unreported] incident can be thought to be an act of harassment, potentially liable to giving rise to criminal proceedings punishable with imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, and to a claim for damages for anxiety and financial loss?"

Comprendi? Maybe I've mis-read the case and thought the boss did punch the windows out or do something which in the context of power over employment does deserve six months. We are not allowed to read what the "third incident" is and it may have been a funny look at an office party or it may have been a threat to punch the lights out of something, someone, blame the employee and get them sacked for it without a reference or future career. The first is a precious, tactical thing that some people come-up with in tribunal cases. The second is much more serious, I think, than if a stranger goes to your home, punches out the windows and escapes for police to deal with perhaps. If a stranger punches-out your windows at home, I think the emotional strain is much less than if your employer does something similar that happens to be at work.

If the offence was something like Anthony Gubbey's attempt to make the best compromise of being chief justice in Zimbabwe, which was eventually met by yobs at the court gate threatening to punch-in the windows because he was the servant and Mugabe was the master; of henchmen interrupting his court cases and police not enforcing the law, of real threats to his own safety so strong that he paid for his own guards then you might think that six months is not long enough for Mugabe and that Anthony Gubbey did a good job postponing the decline of impartial law in that country. Click on the link above and you will get a Daily Telegraph report of click on the photo for BBC. The picture above is of Alan Ward at the court gate, possibly looking at a Telegraph reporter's camera rather than Anthony Gubbay looking at a well-trained government-funded henchmen who take great delight in wearing their opponents down even when violence is not possible, but the principal is the same and surprisingly also the background; both had spouses or offspring suffering from Alzheimer's or similar to add to stress outside work.

If Gubbay's stress levels over long periods led to something like a nervous breakdown, facing harassment at the court gate, you might think that Anthony Gubbay is the person who should be able to sue like someone who has suffered from criminals and even get perks like free police help, free help from the crown prosecution service, and discouragement of practices like intimidation of witnesses or financial settlement before the end of the case under threat of an award of costs to the other side. If you think that masters are always right and servants are always rightly dismissed or perhaps dismissed a little too quickly, then Mugabe is the one to believe in politics and Lord Telegraph Reader or or whatever his highly-paid name is is the one to believe in law. Oddly enough, the newspaper that reports Anthoney Gubbey's attempt to soften the injustice of shits in power, is not a great reporter of shits in power in other large organisations like UK councils, government funded social work and supported housing agencies, or whatever, where a piece of shit can wield massive power over someone who like Anthony Gubbey is just trying to do his job.

Oddly enough the man - I mean the one in specs not the one who threatened to punch the windows out and have his subordinates sacked for it by the personnel department or the other man who resisted Robert Mugabe for years - has probably never had a job for a machiavellian hierarchy in his life. He has worked very hard and been very successful in a different world of self-employment, conformity and good performance, but his ideas about employment probably come from the Daily Telegraph; instinctively he might believe that the manager at Sunderland car pound somehow created a job that others are borrowing, and that the issue is an unfair end to the relationship causing loss of earnings to the servant while getting another master, rather than use of power to punch peoples' mental specs out by someone who has bluffed-his way into a job that we all pay for. I may be wrong because on re-reading I see quite another line of argument in the case that "the cold shoulder" which is not pleasant but not harrasment either.

Oh I was on about whether Blair thinks you are a Yob. I can't see you as I write so we will have to work it out together whether you pass the"would Blair think you are a Yob?" test. Government ministers have established a Quango Court that decided that a teacher was not harassed in law by her headmaster but that "undermining authority" was itself a crime which might end her career. This is a Quango in Bermondsey, not North Korea. I've been there, to visit the patent agent who hire offices on the top floor. The same office block is used for Care Standards Tribunals, Teachers Something Or Other Tribunals (TSOOT) and odd vists from the union Certification Office that nobody has heard of all seem to use the same building for their monstrosities. But the patent agent above have a nice view: you can see HMS Belfast out of the window.

This site is written in small parts and the next paragraph may repeat.

The duty of care seems skewed in the employee's favour for physical injuries, but in the employer's favour for psychiatric injuries. Judges have no personal experience of being bullied out of jobs over a long period and apparently no professional interest. Complainants' go to tribunals for a different reason, more like victims to a criminal court (Hammersley page 10-11). The "just and equitable extension of time limits" over three months from the events complained about is arbitrary, and the presumption is that two parties are settling small differences of money, unlike a criminal court where it's assumed that the criminal should be found guilty and discouraged from re-offence.

I suspect that policy-makers in political parties, like judges, do not really believe that offences can be committed by employers against employees except in a physical way. They think it's an equal business relationship between contractors.

The result is that you get the muddle of a school where a teacher is deliberately driven to a nervous breakdown through Rachmanism - because she is a good teacher and on a high pay scale - next to a chancer who sues for tripping on spillages allowed to remain without proper warning signage according to health and safety executive guidelines. My guess is that the chancer has a lot more chance in court than the teacher and everyone looses as a result - pupils, taxpayers, the remaining teachers: everyone but unions if they get a kick-back for referring cases to personal injury solicitors, and the political party which takes a fair share of the missing millions that should be in union bank accounts.

Meanwhile there is so much that seems instinctively wrong about the treatment of staff by employers that a container-load of special cases has been inserted into the system. It is like a game of snakes and ladders. A few decades ago (according to the preface of employment tribunal practice and precedents) employment law was no longer called "The Master and Servant Act" but still assumed that the master had made a job for the servant, the servant had out-stayed his welcome, and exceptions were due for breach of contract, minimum notice periods, and that was about it. Even in those days the T&G rule book made lawyers a priority but there was very little employment law. Now special cases include wrongful dismissal that is procedurally unfair (if you don't know what the job is and act reasonably but still sack), discriminatory in terms of race, gender, disability and to some extent sexuality, union membership, whistle blowing, and so-on. Few would sue unless hopping mad, desperate or chancers but the law is there. Likewise few employers in the public sector would allow whistle blowing for example: they find ways around the law. House of Lords judges have more-or-less refused to assess psychiatric injury in their own case law but the concept creeps back into the tribunal system where an employer is on a weak case: overlapping injury to feelings and psychiatric injury can turn a claim for a proportion of a year's salary into a low multiple of that.

In practice, your lawyer rings ACAS or the employer's insurance companies lawyer and has a conversation about how much money to go away "for nuisance" and then the employer is urged by their human resources contractor to use more and more bureaucratic procedures to avoid risking court again. The next generation of employees exploit manager's attempts to get around cumbersome and inept procedure and win the odd case. Managers rally-round those criticicised and it does not damage their CVs. For example the chief executive of Harringay Council was criticised by the report of the Victoria Climbie inquiry into Harringay Social Services for being deliberately distant to the point of negligence. You would expect, reading the report, that he would resign. He did not. After the fuss had died down he got a senior government quango job before picking a fight with a journalist while drunk and resigning. Most of the Machiavellis who insert themselves between taxpayer-funding and those who have to do work for taxpayers are more lucky.

#2 To check your employment law ideas by phone:

Do they begin to make sense to someone else? Did you read the law right? What proof helps? Is the case strong enough and valuable enough to take to a no-win no-fee solicitor? Are you already past time limits? Do you need to write a grievance letter or a questionnaire about discrimination before going to court, and which court? Sanity-checking early ideas is something that telephone lawyers can do. If you still have a contract with your employer that may entitle you to use some kind of help line as part of a benefits package. Community Legal Services is often quoted as an advice line but it's means tested. Try these...

  • legal advice over the phone to co-operative (or whatever the current page for new members is) is free to join & once a member you're likely to get a better deal from their free legal helpline for "initial legal advice". This is marketed as a membership perk alongside the almost identical "assessment" of whether they want to represent you, which plenty of other solicitors on the Law Society's find a solcitor page can offer face to face and with better qualification. There may be no difference at all in how you are treated, but by becoming a member you are repaying them for the work of advising you, and they do ask for your membership number. There's an interview with one of the paralegals here. All such a person can do is explain how their off-the-cuff knowledge of the law applies to your conversation about your case. At least this is better than FirstAssist - the FirstAssist help line re-branded by Unite the Union provided someone who said "it's a contract - why shouldn't you have to follow a contract? Oh. I'm not a specialist in employment law". According to the video interview above, Co-op advisors do not have to be law society members but are trained in Excel and can ask around the office. The services quotes good feedback such as "Michael Greenwood January 2010 - So far the service has been good, with good feedback, information and guidance." 9-8 weekdays, 10-4 Saturdays.

  • ACAS has a tax-funded help line to
    "answer all your employment questions in one confidential phone call": 08457 47 47 47.
    The ACAS help line's advice is not means-tested, like advice from CLSDirect, and not limited to people who are using employment tribunals, like the ACAS settlement service. Weekdays 8-6.

  •[deep link]our-services/employment-advice/tribunal /our-services/employment-advice/tribunal
    (see right) is around £50 a year and slower to respond with shorter hours, but they do have a couple of practising specialist employment lawyers to ring you back so their advice on how tribunals and laws work in practice - rather than what the law says on paper - is likely to be better . Which Legal Service is the best option for anyone who can afford it. Call weekdays 8.30-6. In newspaper interviews they have claimed to be willing to dictate letters about small claims, but they won't read faxed documents and a few years ago would not advise by email. Good questions to ask are whether a case could be worth enough to take to a no-win no-fee lawyer, or be simple enough to handle alone, or whether any more work could me done to tidy it up if it is on the boundary between the two. Recently they've added a "members area" with a few template letters and guides.

  • DAS Instant Law Line is similar to Which Legal Service, but charges by the month instead of by the year in the hope that some people will subscribe for years at a time. Their telephone legal advice is as limited as others.
    "Instant Law Line can only give telephone advice and can't accompany you to court. The helpline service cannot help in the following circumstances: if your legal query does not relate to a specific legal problem, to legally assess correspondence or provide written advice, or advice relating to immigration, agricultural and ecclesiastical law."
    "Legal advice under this service is for general advice only, and as our legal advisers are unable to take in correspondence or case files, we would be unable to provide the in-depth advice required in these situations. If you wish to discuss general questions regarding legal procedures, we would be able to help."

  • If you are the sort of person who buys home contents insurance, there might be a legal telephone help line or even insurance to pay basic lawyers' costs for cases with a 50% chance of success bundled with what you've got. AA home insurance is an example. More Than offer it - with a free set of guided template letters - as an extra. Most home insurers will reduce their price for a higher minimum payment and a lower maximum payment. If you are in a bad trades union and don't have a dispute with your employer, you might want to take out minimum home contents cover with maximum excess, using a firm that includes legal insurance, as a precaution for the future.

    My trades union offers the same First Direct legal help line under the "Care Xpress" brand except about employment law or disputes with the union. They do not give a reason for this exclusion or warn members of it. Maybe even telephone advice can make a difference that they don't want you to know. Oddly enough the employer paid for help lines - almost unknown to the staff but available if anyone asked human resources about them - for telephone counselling and for legal information. The provider was DAS who seemed quite unsure what the specific deal was at my employer and didn't exclude legal advice while I still had a contract, even when off sick. I never tried the telephone counselling but the legal advice was better than First Direct by a long way. At first direct someone said"It's a contract. Why shouldn't they enforce a contract?"Then after being told why said "I'm not an employment specialist". On the same subject, the branch lawyer at T&G 1/1148 claims to have supervised the Capita legal advice help line. My employment tribunal chair had to correct him about the law of time limits. In a second pre-hearing review after I had sacked the man I was told "he was a bad lawyer - I'll give you that".

#3 To check the basic position in law, and then the text of the laws or cases:

  • gives the useful basic position in employment law & refers to employment case law. It is more up-to-date than printed text-books, but if you prefer prose and paper go to a book shop or a reference library, find a book with a style and level of detail you like and then buy a copy: you can sell it on the web later. My dud union lawyer taught me one thing, which is to stick post-it notes into a book and jot things on them when you are trying to avoid eye contact in the tribunal waiting room, and that is a good way to add notes to a legal text book. (If you want to see a free staff handbook, DAS provides a long one and ACAS provides free short ones.)

  • You have to pay to see the cases on Emplaw (my union had a subscription but wouldn't let me use it) but you can often find them for free on such as United Kingdom Employment Appeal Tribunal cases, which are written down and binding on ordinary tribunals. The Employment Act and employment rights laws tend to come-up on Google. Those the government wants to re-enforce have free .pdf download text books in clearer English. The Disability Discrimination Act even has a free help line attached to tell you which part applies (details on the ACAS site above). Conversely the laws that the government wishes did not exist at work, such as the Protection from Harassment Act, get over-turned willy-nilly at appeal courts.

  • Evidence of what the other side were doing might be available from a Data Protection Act subject access request. This is the Information Commissioners pdf guide for users. Direct employees of government can try the Freedom of Information Act too.

  • You may be able to help someone else or see a similar question answered on

#4 To find an employment law solicitor, no-win no-fee, near your tribunal's post code:

Solicitors are over £100 an hour or double - worth it if they can settle convincingly, or put points simply. A simple health and safety personal injury case is just up their street, or negotiating a compromise agreement with a half sane employer and employee who both treat it as business and can take the decision to stop.

If you have the messiest case with the lowest payout, the legal trade isn't good at helping. The pretence of being paid by insurers or unions when sometimes no-win no-fee and paying commission is a bad start. Firms like Shoesmiths who do this would argue that they can cut costs by working a production-line of near-identical pre-vetted cases, but if it doesn't work out like that in practice there may not be much that a junior lawyer can do about it. Most firms have picked-up a culture of office costs, long commutes, and top-heavy salaries almost as much as banks. The most junior lawyers have to work almost for free. According to one firm quoted in the Law Gazette,

"Most fee-earners at a traditional firm will take home 20-30% of their billing target. Being a freelance lawyer means you set your own target and keep about 85% of it."; "lawyers have been ‘overworked and overpriced’ ... for too long. "

To get more out of the legal trade you have to make things easier for them. One technique - imposed by some trade union lawyers who are appointed at the last minute - is for the lawyer to sit-in and advise at a tribunal and before while the ex employee puts the case. You might offer to work that way.

A more rare lawyers' technique is to go back to the traditional model of partnerships, with less of the long commutes, expensive office addresses and over-paid senior staff. The buzzword to google is "virtual law"; more people do it each year and this list is from the late 2000s. Keystone Law (formerly Lawyers Direct) and worked mainly work for employers at the last look. in London and in the Midlands and Northwest do some work for employees, while a quick search on People Per Hour finds a couple of law society members based in London and Bolton.

Another technique is to find the nearest employment lawyer and approach them in the most direct way, rather than through a claims handling agency. Many lawyers will argue your right to choose a lawyer after first assessment to an insurer or trades union if either of those should in theory be paying.

Council-run reference libraries tend to include one per council with a collection of lawyers' directories and law books. Some popular or slightly out of date ones are dotted around other branches. If you join the library and then log-on to their web site from home, they may have some law books to read on screen. Quickest, though, is to start online.

  • diverts to the's database of individual employment law solicitors by distance from a post code & speciality: a specialist is vital. Many give a home address but work from the firm's office. The listing says whether they do a fixed-fee interview, typically for half an hour and sometimes free, to assess a claim. Best to check if you can get legal aid before the meeting, or most of the half hour will be spent talking about money, and this is the only half-hour that you know they will spend on reading your evidence or trying to get on a wavelength and understand what's important to you. Another detail is the number of members in a firm, which you can compare to the number of staff listed on to find out if this is a call-centre outfit with very few lawyers. BBH in the photograph for example is among those who used ripped-off sick miners who they offered to help with the compensation scheme, in some cases paying commission to trade unions to get a list of victims. Solicitors online mentions whether individual lawyers are on any government or law society panels; you can also check whether they are members of the Employment Lawyers Association on that website, which is otherwise not much use for finding a lawyer.

    is a search page for solicitors who take legal aid and law centres listed by distance from your post code.
    It misses some un-subsidised but free law centres that are listed on the site: Hammersmith is listed on the government site; Richmond is not.
    has an online calculator to work-out that you are not eligible for legal aid because you have recently been employed,. In order to be on the database, firms have to use a high proportion of staff on fairly ordinary wages. Competent solicitors are usually well-qualified law society members used to working intensively and advising a client how best to solve a problem with a very good knowledge of law, tactics, and the evidence available. They cost at least £100 an hour. Government legal help pays something like 4½ hours maximum at usual rates for case preparation and nothing for representation, so the database is not aimed at finding the best local solicitor but anyone at all, qualified or not, who will attempt the work and many enquiries are channelled into the government's own cheap mail-order claims preparation service. The purpose is not so much to help claimants, but to avoid Daily Mail headlines saying that claimants can't help: bad service is harder for a journalist to prove than none. Somebody with zero money, a simple case, and little skill or confidence in putting it together might find the service useful.
  • - lists lawyers who give initial consultations by phone or email, solicitors with a lot of free information on their web sites, and directories of lawyers was one that would have been hard to find without her site. If you want to sue a trade union, you type "Trade Union" or "Unison" or "British Medical Association" into the box and find that three lawyers are listed (it's 61 for "bank"). Individual lawyers' employment appeals tribunals are also minuted on
  • is Butterworths solicitors' directory online, with plenty of legal explanations added
  • Waterlow Legal | Public | Employment is another legal directory gone online, listing firms by post code. This can search only for no-win no-fee employment solicitors or legal firms where some of the staff speak a certain language.
  • Other employment law solicitor league tables like Chambers (online and in libraries) exist but tend to pick-out employment solicitors firms more than individual employment lawyers. The firms are then more likely to charge a corporate-client rate per hour for employment law. If you livenear an employment tribunal and can ever attend morning weekday hearings, go to have a look and write your own Chambers guide to top lawyers before hiring one. (The minister has recently renamed them "centres" for clarity). Finally, allows feedback from customers who have posted short summery cases for lawyers to bid on.
  • is the tripadvisor or the solicitors' world, often giving good reviews and local contacts.
  • Claims management agencies have to register whether they might take an employment case, even if they only take the largest ones in practice, and what county they are based in. This makes the register itself hard to use for finding a lawyer and most are geared to assessing claims over the phone anyway. (Unions are exempt from this even though T&G for example seems little more than a claims management agency). Legal firms that do not use law society members at all are also listed.

    One that works for the employee's side - Humane Resources has appeared in the Employment Appeals Tribunal (search for Melia).

    Claims management agencies advertise heavily for personal injury work, which pays better, and some of them take some employment law cases. I'm told by an employer that they do a good job on a simple case in which one or two phone calls can list the evidence and challenge the employer to settle or risk the cost of a tribunal. At the other extreme, a stress case based on reams of evidence about machiavellian goings-on, no no-win no-fee lawyer is likely to touch it except, perhaps, as someone who sits-in to give advice to a person representing themselves and then claims 20% legal costs which the claimant could not have got on their own. Even this deal might not attract a lawyer, so for stress cases it's best to go as directly as possible to a lawyer - rather than through an agency - and to choose one close to a tribunal.

  • Hybrid advice lines, letter-template-collections and booklets exist
    Delia Venables lists solicitors who will give initial advice for free by email, but they do this on the understanding that if your ½ hour's assessment leads to a good case, they'll get the work plus 20% costs from the other side if they win and most likely x% out of your winnings or £100+ an hour because employment costs awarded do not reflect the complexity of real life cases caused by employers deliberately trying to do one thing and seem to do another. If they are bad employers, for you to pretend not to understand would be for you to be a bad employer of solicitors. If you genuinely can't afford this, better to see the same solicitor volunteering to work for free at a law centre. If you can afford this and would, best to consider a solicitor very near to the tribunal where the case would be heard or to you and specialising in your kind of case. If the case is personal injury, the same applies but to county courts. County courts only hear cases argued by law society members if the claim is over £1,000 I think.

    Another category exists of people who would not help you at a tribunal but will offer cheaper advice in assembling a claim. web site has closed. The service was offered by Adrian Melia, who, alongside other careers such as being a composer, is a human resources consultant and has argued legal cases right-up to the employment tribunals appeals tribunal. The tribunals service does not require representatives to be members of the law society, although non-union claims management agencies have to be registered with the Financial Services Authority and Adrian Melia is registered. His site also has a forum for interested people to write to each other and he would be willing to offer human resources consultancy to employers. As someone who has an interest in workplace bullying, his services have mainly been used by employees.

    Tribunal Action in Wales gets bad reviews around the net.
    does not offer to represent at a tribunal but does offer phone and email help in getting a case together from download-able booklets and template letters. The firm is run by a single law society member, and does not write on the web site what other help lines or individuals are involved. On the face of it, it seems a sensible service.

    One trade union tried advertising an after-the-event service on google. Employment contracts or the bits of staff handbooks they refer to often allow a "friend or union representative" to witness a sticky meeting like a dismissal. For the next year or two it can legally be "recognised union" but that will doubtless change and is not common anyway. The important thing is that the contract tries to stop you hiring a solicitor to come with you to meet Mr Sugar. Friends may melt away at this point and unions are rare outside the public-funded sector because unions are so bad at their job. You could claim the solicitor is a friend and see if the other side proves not. It's expensive. Or one claims management agency recommends a pay-as-you-go union with qualified accounts at the certification office, stating that their accountant does not quite know where they get their money from after looking at the membership receipts. Whether their witnessing of the meeting is good value or comes with a small-print contract to use the same claims management agency I don't know.

  • Rapidocs from Epoq / Desktop Lawyer / AA legal / MyLawyer
    Rapidocs from Epoq tries to assemble grievances by type of law, with pop-up notes to suggest what each kind covers. It's an unusual approach. Most lawyers try to write a grievances in date order, but anything clear will do; you could try two drafts, one in date order and one in order of laws referred-to. is the re-branded version of Rapidocs service with a legal helpline
    £60 pays for a grievance letter, a grievance appeal letter, and telephone advice on the limited question of how to draft them from a qualified UK lawyer. runs several services providing legal documents as forms to fill-in and print-out, sometimes with a limited helpline to qualified lawyers, or as an office service to laywers and businesses. Typically they can help draft tenancy documents, powers of attorney, or debt collection letters for unpaid wages, but their websites do have draft letters for employee grievance and grievance appeal. Epoq's brand for business documents is Rapidocs. For consumers and small business, they tried running a service called Desktop Lawyer, which had trouble defining its service in the 2000s but still running as a supplier of form documents, including free sample documents (I don't know the catch) or fully-printable documents with a "courtesy call" for £8 a grievance letter and £8 for an appeal.

    Similar services have been rebranded as part of More Than home insurance policies, and as Halifax Legal Solutions, which does not include grievance letter templates (only ones requesting to take a dog to work and about parental leave). If you have one of these as a freebie with some other product, it would be worth checking to see whether they've included it since the last check.

  • Student and volunteer solicitors can be googled with "law works" (including the quotes) or "pro bono" and using a map search or adding a place name. New colleges are adding volunteer schemes for free legal advice all the time but one co-ordinating charity, Law Works, says that it can often take up to 8 weeks to find a volunteer, depending on the area and the time of year. Other charities, some state-funded and others not like Public Concern at Work, offer help on specialised areas of law such as whistle blowing by email or phone.

    Some councils fund free lawyers in the same very low-budget way that they fund advice centres, as employees of a separate grant-funded law centre which is in theory a separate charity. Law centre services are most likely means-tested; mainstream advice centres never. The book "Employment Tribunals, Tactics and Precedents"published by Legal Action Group gives an idea of how late these agencies take qualifying cases, how little money they are willing to put into services like preparing a bundle of documents, and how quickly they drop cases in order to get-on with the next one. A free PDF text book The Claimants Companion by Tamara Lewis is in a similar style (link from another DIY Employment Law site has links to some of all three types of service - law centre, citizens advice bureau and advice services alliance - by place name. lists volunteer lawyers too. Advice centres are usually parts of the national franchises Advice UK [dismissal page] (formerly Federation of Independent Advice Centres) and the better-known of the two - Citizens Advice Bureau [dismissal page]. Often the local branches will be a separate organisation with their own web page listing opening times, what they think their services are, who they want to see, and thanking the council for their generous grant which is not what you want to read if you want them to help you sue the council. Often, advice centres will employ one volunteer to advise on all possible subjects including employment law by looking-up the Advice Centres Alliance or CAB web site and reading it out to you. My CAB tried ringing my union to find out why they weren't backing me. The union official responded by pretending not to be in and not returning calls. It is a sign of how legalistic and arbitrary the tribunal system has become that unqualified advice workers generally won't act as advocates in a tribunal, any more than union officials or employers' human resources staff will, despite union-failure.html page, next. 
  • Footnote about Alcohol Recovery Project, a public-funded employer trying to reduce the harm caused by compulsive drinking.
    Or maybe say that drinking is wrong: they are not entirely sure and the trustees have spent much of their time discussing what ARP stands for in between defending tribunal cases against 3% of the entire ARP staff in 2006. By chance their staff are quite good at the work and some of the set-ups they use, like a drop-in shopfront with free group work for people trying to stay sober, are better than the others for most people most of the time. If you don't live in London, the formula is called a community alcohol service and you might find something similar in large towns, or a drug-and-alcohol service in smaller ones.

    Anyone can see from Alcohol Recovery Project's web site that they set-up to do useful work with many but small government grants to claim, endless interference with management from user-groups, inspectors, funders, and trustees or counsellors, their managers have very little time to find-out what the work really is, what good work is being done, and what the more enterprising staff want to do to improve things. There is meant to be a system if interminable meetings' views fed-up-and-fed-up the management line, but the system only passes credit upwards and blame downwards, so if anything goes wrong it is the practitioners fault and not the managers'.

    If you have an alcohol problem, note that they only had a handful of qualified supervised counsellors working in South London and most of their staff are therefore forced to manage the demand for counselling while pretending that the work is assessing or running a group or responding to feedback from residents. Groups are quite limited. Mostly, as in any social work organisation, it is about assessments because it looks good on paper to say"our staff did a thousand assessments", you can have paperwork to prove it and nothing has to have been done that is useful or can fail and show you up for not having a clue. If a staff member should ask for an OK to send a list of suggestions about the referral form, or ask a director how requests can be passed-up the management line, either act can be taken as reason for events which staff complain about at employment tribunals.

    If you are ARP's lawyer, please note Wang v CNC markets, a bit of case law that says someone can be paid £2,500 nuisance to go away because the legal system doesn't work, or whatever happened to Wang, and still be a nuance and not be sue-able.

    If you are one of ARP's trustees, shocked that your organisation's fecklessness and cruelty to clients and staff should be exposed on the web, please first remember that Kingston University has a whole website doing nothing else with business as usual, so it is no nuisance to get het-up about or bang the table at the next trustee's meeting and note that I am happy to help reduce the incompetence and bullying at the old firm if you want to ask advice. I'll even sit on the board of trustees once a month with you if you want. I did write to each of you personally twice and despite working for the employer for seven years I was refused a chance to meet this mystery committee and got a failed attempt at unfair dismissal instead. It was something about slamming doors. The manager you asked to make the allegation was so thick and dishonest that she forgot there were dampers on the doors but she remained in post in order that the could try the same again later. I am also rude to Suzan Kramer MP, The Transport and General Workers' Union, Amicus, The Union of Democratic Mine workers and Beresfords solicitors, DAS Legal Insurance (by quoting a link to a critic),The Labour Party, The Conservative Party (who take money from my ISA manager), and Mr Andrew Gumbiti-Zimuto, the tribunal chair. More people are insulted by this site than read it in a typical day and nobody else has cared enough to get in touch In fact by insulting a trade union I have helped the management at ARP who are also known for dismissing union reps.

    Employers appearing at the employment appeals tribunal and on surveys of workplace bullying show similarities: quango-funding; committee management, few pressures on them to know what it is that they actually do and who their good staff are or who are the less productive ones. Another aspect is that their staff are working for something beyond just the money, which law doesn't recognise. Ambulance staff report a lot of workplace bullying but the law would say

    "why didn't you leave the injured on the pavement and walk into Tesco to ask for a job? This is just about loss of earnings for overly quick dismissal, not how the ambulance service is managed even if it is mismanaged in order to find ways of getting rid of troublemaking staff rather than managed for the patients on the pavement".

    Look Ahead, a hostel organisation, gets in the employment appeals tribunal top-of-the-pops more than once; Kingston University is an organisation that has inspired its own web site about employment practices.

    Another trend amongst organisations that might make case law on appeals and are reported is that a lot of them have funny names. The sole example of psychiatric-injury-by-post is about a parish council's country walks projects, which might have amused a judge; Fatti v. Look Ahead must have amused a judge and Wang v CNC Markets speaks for itself. Usually, judges take the job for the state pension that they would not have got as barristers but sometimes they are moved to agree with a change. If you have a funny name, maybe you'll succeed where nobody has persuaded an appeal judge before.
    To write a link to this page, choose from the main url or (as described on this Consumer Action Group page)) - find which UK employment laws apply to you - check your employment law ideas by phone - check the basic position in law, and the full text of laws or cases - find a solicitor at this stage or claim yourself - register yourself as someone interested in something better

#5 to register interest in a legal insurance scheme add your email address below

Aardvark Mailing List keep these email addresses secure till there are enough of them to suggest a new legal insurance scheme, given that trades unions aren't doing this. This is an ameteur web site written in odd scraps of time and prone to mistakes, so the names on the list probably won't lead to a new world-changing union but your data is held by Aardark - not - so it can't be used for anything else. We just get a name, half an email addresss and an opportunity to send an email.

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I will get back to you if enough people are interested in proper legal insurance for employees. For now, the email handling is handled by Aardvark Mailing List. Like Pledgebank, this list is for people who would like there to be cheap legal insurance but don't set it up because not enough people want it at once to make it viable. If you check out Aardvark, you will see that they remain free bacause they don't give email addresses to list owners; if anyone hijacks your email address it will be them, not, and they look honest. You can add your name to the list to be told when there are a lot of people on it and cheap legal insurance is possible.

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