This guide is intended as a brief outline of employment law in England & Wales. Much of the relevant legislation also applies in Scotland. Northern Ireland has a separate statutory code although much of its employment law is coordinated with that of England, Wales and Scotland. This guide is therefore not to be used as authority for the law in Scotland or Northern Ireland. Provided they are prepared to pay sufficient compensation, employers in England & Wales can usually achieve what they wish. In any event, most businesses are conscientious about wanting to be seen as “good employers”.
Employment law in the United Kingdom is derived from three main sources:
- Common law (custom and practice and court decisions);
- UK employment legislation which has supplemented the common law rules; and
- Retained EU Law
Across the UK, the majority of disputes between employers and employees are heard by employment tribunals, and not within the civil courts structure. The tribunal, established in the 1970s, has its own set of rules and regulations and is entirely separate from the civil courts. If a party wishes to appeal a tribunal judgment, they may do so to the Employment Appeals Tribunal. Subsequent appeals are made to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.