Employee Rights - Legal Terms Glossary

Legal words can often be confusing and difficult to understand. We have collected the main ones you are likely to come across and will try to simplify the meanings as much we can.

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS)

The Crown non-departmental public body of the Government of the United Kingdom whose purpose is to improve organisations and working life through the promotion and facilitation of industrial relations practice.

Appeal meeting

Following either a disciplinary or grievance process an employee may appeal the employer’s decision, ie the sanction imposed in a disciplinary situation or the employer’s decision not to uphold the employee’s concerns/complaints in a grievance situation.  An employee is statutorily entitled to be accompanied by either a workplace colleague or TU representative at one of these meetings. An appeal is the final internal procedure. 

Constructive Unfair Dismissal or Constructive Dismissal

When the actions of the employer force the employee to resign.

Disciplinary meeting

If an investigation into an alleged disciplinary issue finds that there are questions to be put to and answered by an employee, the employee will then be invited to attend a formal disciplinary meeting between the employer and employee to discuss the allegations. Following the disciplinary meeting the employer will come to a decision on whether or not the employee is ‘guilty’ of the allegations and if so the employer will then go onto consider what sanction to impose, considering any mitigating factors.  An employee is statutorily entitled to be accompanied by either a workplace colleague or TU representative at one of these meetings.

Discrimination

Unlawful or prejudicial treatment of people on the grounds of race, age, sex, religious belief, etc.

Employment Contract

An employment contract or contract of employment is a contract used in Employment law to attribute rights and responsibilities between the employer and employee. Providing an Employment Contract to an employee is a legal requirement.

Employment Rights Act 1996

One of the Acts which sets out the legal rights of an employee, including reasonable notice before fair dismissal, time off for parenting, redundancy and unfair dismissal.

Employment Tribunal

Employment tribunals are tribunal public bodies in England and Wales and Scotland which have statutory jurisdiction to hear many kinds of disputes between employers and employees.

Equality Act 2010

Legal protection from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. The Act combined and replaced previous anti-discrimination laws with a single Act.

Grievance meeting

A formal meeting between the employer and employee to investigate a concern or complaint that the employee has raised. An employee is statutorily entitled to be accompanied by either a workplace colleague or a TU representative at one of these meetings.

Investigation meeting

A meeting between the employer and employee to investigate issues and/or allegations or concerns and/or complaints raised which may result in either a disciplinary or grievance meeting. 

Post-Termination Restrictive Covenants

Contractual clauses usually contained within a contract of employment which remain in force after the employment term has ceased. They often restrict your right to conduct activities in competition with your former employer or to gain benefit by using the former employers IP or confidential business information after the employment relationship has ended.

Redundancy

When an employer reduces the size of their workforce because a job/role or jobs are no longer required or multiple roles can be fulfilled by a smaller workforce.

Some Other Substantial Reason (SOSR)

Covers dismissals that are not within the scope of the other four potentially fair reasons.

Transfer for Undertakings (TUPE)

When the business that an employee works for is sold, their legal rights are protected under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations. Usually protects employment status and benefits of the employee.

Unfair Dismissal

Where an employer terminates an employee’s employment contract without good reason and/or without following a fair procedure.

Vicarious Liability

Legal term relating to when an employer can be liable for the acts of its employees when they took place in the course of their employment.

Whistle-blower

An employee (or other person) who informs on a person or organisation in relation to that person or organisation engaging in unlawful or immoral activity.

Workplace Policies

A set of documented rules and regulations, created by the employer, that provide managers and workers with a guide on how to behave in the workplace.

Wrongful Dismissal

Where an employee's contract of employment has been terminated by the employer, but the termination breaches terms within the Employment Contract.