When you took your job, you were very happy with the terms of your contract. Even if you didn’t actually sign a contract, there would have been some written or verbal agreement specifying things like hours of work and remuneration. That counts as a contract too. But now, you’re finding that things aren’t as you expected them to be. Is your employer guilty of breach of contract, or should you just keep quiet? Here’s what you should do.
1) Get Advice From an Employment Lawyer
Before you start rocking the boat, make sure that there’s a boat to rock! Take your employment contract, or any other written record of your employment, to a specialist lawyer like HKM, a leading firm of employment attorneys, and get advice. Verbal agreements can count, so don’t despair if you don’t have anything in writing.
Obviously, your law firm isn’t going to jump right in with a lawsuit, but they can tell you whether your employer is in breach of contract from a legal perspective. This helps you to decide whether you should raise the matter with your employers and you’ll be able to get advice on how to proceed.
2) Don’t Assume the Worst
Your employer may not be trying to cheat you out of what is due to you. Administrative errors could be to blame and they may be perfectly happy to correct the issue. Although problems like incorrect salary payments may leave you feeling infuriated, retain your professionalism and courtesy. In essence, your initial approach will be a request to correct an error. You will only consider further action if your employer does not make the necessary corrections or denies that any error has been made.
3) Don’t Confuse Contractual Rights With Implicit Rights
Some employee rights, such as the right to compensation for workplace injuries that prevent you from working, don’t have to be mentioned in a contract for them to be enforceable. As an additional example, your right to overtime pay is protected by law. As a result, your work contract does not need to specify your right to overtime pay since it is a legal requirement.
Mutual trust is also implicit in employment contracts. For example, if your employers caused damage to your wellbeing so that you were forced to resign, that could be a breach of the implicit contract that exists in an employment relationship. So, even if you think that a matter isn’t explicitly mentioned in your contract, it could be an implicit contractual obligation. It’s a complicated set of concepts, and another reason to seek legal representation.
4) Follow the Process Recommended to You
If your employer has breached your employment contract, you’re entitled to sue. But it’s better by far to look for a just conclusion outside of litigation. In most instances, employees just want to see the terms of their contracts being met along with some form of restitution for the period in which they did not receive the agreed-upon benefits.
In general, employment lawyers will advise you to take certain steps before they consider intervening. They will advise you on what to do, how to do it, and what records to keep. If your problem is resolved after engaging with HR, you won’t need to take the matter any further. If it isn’t resolved, you’ll have evidence that you did everything in your power to bring it to the attention of your employers, thereby strengthening your case against them should you decide to go ahead with litigation.
5) If You Sue Your Employer, be Ready to Leave
In closing, do be aware that taking your employers to court is likely to result in an uncomfortable work environment. If things have become so bad that you need to take legal action for breach of contract, you’ll probably find that you’re happier in a different job anyway. Be ready to move on!