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Problems at work

Unfairly dismissed? Contract terminated? Facing an unwarranted deduction from your salary? Got a problem with your annual appraisal?

Prospect legal services logoOne of Prospect's key roles is to advise and represent members on their rights at work, including:

  • 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. Our full-time negotiators are expert in dealing with personal cases, backed up by specialist support at headquarters. Negotiators must always be involved where a case involves application to an employment tribunal, courts or statutory tribunals, as well as official health and safety investigations.

How to get advice and help from the union

You may find the information you're looking for in one of our members' guides or factcards. If these don't answer your questions, find out how to get advice.

Case studies

We take up thousands of personal cases in an average year. These are some of our many success stories.

£10,000 award for member in company with no trade union recognition

GR had worked for a small private company for around 5 years when a dispute with the owner led to his dismissal. There was no trade union recognition in the company but as a union member GR insisted on his right to be accompanied to an appeal against dismissal as is allowed under the 1999 Employment Relations Act.

The appeal, like the rest of the dismissal procedure, was considerably flawed, being conducted by someone at a lower level in the company than the person who had dismissed him. We therefore agreed to support GR in a claim to an Employment Tribunal on the grounds of unfair dismissal. By this time GR had found alternative employment, but the tribunal found his dismissal was unfair and he was awarded £10,000 compensation.

£2.40 bill nearly costs a member his job

DH almost lost his job over a disputed £2.40 on an expenses claim. He was suspended and had his pay reduced by 30 per cent. A police investigation concluded that no criminal act had occurred, but D's employer, the Ministry of Defence, persisted with a disciplinary charge, alleging fraud. We pursued the case through a succession of local interviews, and after an eight-month investigation DH was cleared. His case was raised in parliament when MPs discovered that MOD had spent £50,000 of taxpayers' money investigating the matter.

£8,000 in back pay

The union won back pay for DB after his branch secretary found he had never received the promotion increase he was entitled to. A check on his records revealed that a 5% pay increase had never been implemented. His employer claimed that the promotion was a 'sideways move,' and it took months of meetings and letters to persuade it to change its mind.

Posthumous compensation for race discrimination victim

We won over £12,000 posthumous compensation for a members' widow after her husband was denied promotion for six years despite having passed a promotion board. JM worked for the Prison Service. He passed his promotion board from farm manager grade 4 to grade 3 in 1990. But when he died after a severe asthma attack in 1996 he was still a grade 4.

His branch secretary had taken up the case a year before he died, arguing that he was a victim of race discrimination because everyone else who had passed the same board in 1992 had since been promoted. A further 18 grade 4s had been promoted during that period.

After months of negotiation we secured a settlement for J's widow, with an enhanced pension and compensation lump sum calculated on the basis of promotion increases J would have received if his promotion had gone through.

Even MDs need unions

Managing directors rarely have trade unions available to defend their interests at employment tribunals. Dr Charles Lynch was glad to be a union member when he was squeezed out as MD of PTL, the small utilities services company he'd set up a decade ago.

Its US parent company was having problems and became the subject of a friendly takeover. There were sweeping changes, and PTL staff were told to report directly to managers in the States. Dr Lynch effectively had no authority.

On advice from the union's solicitors, he resigned and said he intended to work out his notice. To the surprise of his New York boss, he was entitled to six months' notice, a provision not usually available in the United States. When his six months were up he left PTL and began working privately. The union then opened proceedings for constructive dismissal, and the case has now been settled.

"A lot of managing directors of small companies will think that there isn't anything in trade union membership for them," said Dr Lynch. "But in the end even an MD still reports to somebody. You can be a very vulnerable employee in a sense - the target if somebody decides to have a go at the organisation."