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How to get advice and help

Prospect advises and represents members in relation to their rights at work, and the policies and procedures of their employer.

legal services logoThis key Prospect service includes:

  • representation within workplace procedures such as grievance, discipline or capability
  • advice on employment rights
  • advice and representation at employment tribunals and other courts.

Prospect has extensive experience of dealing with workplace issues. We can provide support by giving advice or by presenting the member's case. We use our local representatives who are trained to handle personal cases, and where appropriate, full-time negotiators. They in turn are supported by specialist staff at Prospect headquarters who can advise on all employment issues

How to get advice

You may find the information you're looking for in one of our members' guides or factcards.

If you need one-to-one advice on a personal case, you should initially contact your local representative (you'll find details on your member welcome page). Many cases will be dealt with entirely by local reps who can raise and resolve issues directly with management. Grievances and internal disciplinary hearings are also usually handled locally. However, assistance is always available from a full-time negotiator who can take over a case if necessary.

Legal support

We're usually successful in resolving issues at the workplace, but sometimes we can't reach agreement. In these situations we need to consider whether the law offers a solution, and whether this is an appropriate way forward. Prospect assesses the merits of each case against established principles; these help us to judge whether we can reasonably expect a legal case to be successful.

Members will be advised on the legal consequences at each stage of their personal case. We will provide a full explanation whether we decide to pursue a case or to decline support because there is no reasonable prospect of success at law.

Only working members are eligible for advice on employment rights (this includes people whose employment has just terminated). Retired members are not entitled to advice on employment-related issues (see our Terms and Conditions).

Your right to be accompanied

All workers have the statutory right to be accompanied by a trade union representative at disciplinary or certain grievance hearings. This statutory right applies where the worker is ‘required or invited' to attend a hearing, and the worker reasonably requests to be accompanied. The right extends to workplaces where Prospect is not formally recognised. Where appropriate the member will be accompanied by their local representative, or if necessary by their full-time negotiator.

Full-time negotiators

Complex or appropriate cases will be referred to the full-time negotiator, who will decide whether support should be given. From this stage the negotiator will be responsible for all aspects of the case, handling representations to management and any Employment Tribunal application. In turn, negotiators can take advice from Prospect's pensions, legal and research experts.

Prospect legal team

The union's legal officers provide advice and assistance on employment law to full-time negotiators. To avoid any overlap with industrial relations issues, queries to the legal team should usually be directed through the full-time negotiator.

Where necessary and at Prospect's discretion cases may be referred to the union's solicitors, counsel or other advisors. They may be asked for an opinion or to represent a member when the case cannot be dealt with by Prospect representatives or staff.

Conflict of interest

Where a case involves disagreement between two members, Prospect will represent them separately to avoid any conflict of interest.

Key employment rights

Many statutory employment rights depend on an employee's length of service. Some rights apply from day one, for example the right to time off for dependants. Others apply only after completing time in the job, for example the right to parental leave only applies after one year's continuous employment.

There are strict time limits for making applications to an Employment Tribunal, and an unfair dismissal claim must be presented within three months of the effective date of termination. Some employment claims can go to other courts where different limits may apply.

Time limits are only extended in exceptional circumstances. In many cases employees are required to submit a formal written grievance to their employer before making a tribunal claim; if they fail to do this, compensation may be reduced. It is important the full-time negotiator is involved in a tribunal claim from an early stage.

You can find a summary in our employment rights factcard.