Work is an important part of life. A lot of things can go wrong in the workplace. Some issues have simple solutions. Others can be harder for you and your employer to fix.
According to a recent study, one of the most common workplace issues is toilets. Toilets triggered almost 3,000 complaints in three years. But you can bring up anything you feel is unfair or unjust.
Common workplace issues include:
- discrimination against race, disability, gender, age, or pregnancy
- sexual harassment
- lack of training or support
- lack of equipment
- conflict between staff members
- communication problems.
What if I have a problem at work?
If you have an issue or problem at work, try to speak informally with your manager as soon as it happens. If the problem is with your manager, speak to their manager or to another manager who you are comfortable speaking with.
If a problem can’t be resolved in this way, you could raise a formal grievance. You can do this if the issue continues, or if you think it hasn’t been dealt with properly.
Each workplace should have its own procedures in place to deal with problems like the ones listed above – and follow them. They should be easy to find. Check with your manager.
When and where do I get advice?
Think about getting expert advice early – even if you’re not sure that you have a legal issue with your employer. A legal adviser can explain your options and help you with next steps.
There are lots of ways to get independent advice.
- Acas gives free, impartial advice on workplace rights, rules and best practice.
- Citizens Advice has lots of free advice online, or you can contact them for a free chat
- Most law firms have detailed blogs online (A quick internet search can take you to some of these. Just make sure you check it is a trusted law firm. Some even provide a free initial meeting or call.)
- Law charities in your area can also help you with free advice.
- Trade unions should help if you are a member.
When does it become a legal issue?
Have you raised your issue formally with your employer? Are things still no better? Has your employer done nothing to resolve the issue? If so, it might now be a legal issue.
Usually a workplace issue becomes a legal issue when grievances aren’t dealt with properly. This might be because the employer hasn’t followed the correct procedure. Or it might be because the problem hasn’t been fixed.
You might want to speak to a legal advisor.
If you plan to make a discrimination claim, you need to decide if you are going to stay in your job or resign. If you think have no choice but to resign and are being forced out, it could be constructive dismissal. This happens when you’re forced to leave your job because of the way your employer acts.
This is different to unfair dismissal. Unfair dismissal happens when an employer doesn’t have a good reason for dismissing you. It can also occur if a company does not properly follow its own dismissal procedures.
In both cases, you should seek legal advice and help. For constructive dismissal, try to get legal help before you resign.
Tips for employees
- Check your contract
- Keep a diary of dates and events
- Raise your concerns straight away
- Be proactive
- Keep any letters or forms
- Make sure you can access evidence (such as emails)
- Get the contact details for any witnesses
Seek legal advice as early as possible if your issue is not being dealt with properly by your employer.