"What do employment lawyers do?"

Key Facts

Employment law features throughout the lifecycle of an individual's employment. 

Employment law governs the relationship between employees and employers so an employment lawyer's work can be divided into:

  • Employees (and their rights and obligations)

  • Employers (and their rights and obligations)

The purpose of employment law is to protect individuals in the working world (such as protection from discrimination, bullying, promoting good health and safety etc). 

There are both contentious and non-contentious elements to employment law. 

The main piece of legislation governing the area is the Employment Rights Act 1996. 

Common employment law issues...

  • hiring employees

  • advertising job vacancies

  • recruitment

  • new joiner formalities

  • remuneration and benefits 

  • promotion

  • restructuring/reorganising employees/employment

  • structure

  • voluntary exits

  • employee transfers (TUPE) - in cases of mergers and acquisitions, employees will often transfer with the business which requires a lot of contract negotiation/drafting (employment lawyers will often work with corporate and commercial lawyers)

Dispute led employment law issues: 

  • terms and conditions of employment contracts

  • wages and bonuses 

  • childcare / parental leave

  • dismissal notices

  • unfair dismissal

  • redundancy 

  • discrimination

  • gross misconduct

  • employee rights in the event of insolvency 

  • health and safety

What do employment lawyers do? (Non-contentious)

  • day to day support to the human resource team of a business

  • providing advice on employment related issues

  • drafting contracts of employment and restrictive covenants

  • preparing policies such as employee policies, remuneration policies, holiday policies etc 

  • obtaining and collating research and information on employment related topics 

What do employment lawyers do? (Contentious)

  • handling dispute resolution through arbitration and negotiation 

  • organising settlement agreements

  • preparing cases for court including obtaining witness evidence 

  • going to court (Employment Tribunal, Employment Appeal Tribunal, High Court and Court of Appeal)

Skills required...

  • strong analytical skills (i.e. ability to analyse facts and interpret them against the law)

  • proactive attitude

  • commercial awareness

  • interest in employment law and keeping up to date with developments

  • research

  • desire to work with people (as you'll be working with employees and/or senior officers within an organisation)