What help can I get with a problem at work
About what help can you get with a problem at work
This page tells you where you can find more help and information if you have a problem at work, or are making a claim to an employment tribunal.
To find out more about making a claim to an employment tribunal, see Employment tribunals.
Can I get help with my employment tribunal case?
Thinking about making a claim to an employment tribunal can be scary. Many people find it helpful to get some advice before they take action.
There are lots of organisations that might be able to offer you advice, or help with your case. You can find more information and contact details on this page.
You might also want to find someone to help you prepare your case or represent you if there is a hearing. However, when you make a claim to an employment tribunal, you can't automatically get help or representation with your case.
This page gives you some ideas about where you might be able to find someone to help you prepare your case or to represent you if there is a hearing.
But if you can't get advice or representation don't panic! Employment tribunals are set up for ordinary employees to appear on their own and many people don't have a representative. The tribunal are used to people appearing without a representative.
What's the difference between an adviser and a representative?
If you get help from a Citizens Advice Bureau or other advice agency, this might be from someone who can advise you, or from someone who can represent you.
An adviser is someone who can help you with your case behind the scenes. Usually, they won't talk directly to your employer or formally represent you.
A representative is someone who will be named on the tribunal claim form. They will take responsibility for the preparation of your case and act as your representative in the tribunal. Usually, you'll still have to speak at the tribunal to give your evidence.
All contact about your case will go to your representative, and they will get in touch with you when they need to. If you're going away, for example on holiday, you must tell your representative.
If you have an adviser rather than a representative, the preparation of your case is your responsibility, but your adviser is there to help you along the way. You must keep in contact with your adviser, particularly when you receive anything from the tribunal. Don't put off contacting your adviser about any letters, emails or phone calls you get about your case, for example from the tribunal or your employer’s representative. Sometimes you have to do things within a time limit in response to these.
When you get a date for your hearing, you should contact your adviser immediately. If you leave it until just before the hearing, your adviser may not be able to help you make your final preparations.
You should be aware that an adviser or representative may have to withdraw from your case. This can be for different reasons. For example, it may be because it's easier for a busy representative to prepare cases when they are on the record, or that they can only see how strong your case is after certain procedures are done. Your adviser or representative will talk about this with you if the situation comes up.
If you're a member of a trade union, you should contact them to see if they can help with your problem at work, before trying to find help elsewhere. There might be a union representative in your workplace, or you might need to contact your local branch.
You can find out more about your rights at work and as member of a union, and how to contact your union on the Worksmart website at: www.worksmart.org.uk.
Citizens Advice Bureau
If you live or work within their catchment area, your local Citizens Advice Bureau should be able to give you some help with your employment problem or employment tribunal claim.
Advice is available face-to-face and by telephone. Some bureaux also offer email advice. If you need someone to visit you at home, contact your local bureau to see if they can arrange this.
There might be differences in the help local Citizens Advice Bureaux can give you. Some may be able to give you advice, and others may be able to offer you representation. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau will be able to tell you what help it can offer you.
You can find your nearest CAB, including those that give advice by e-mail, by clicking on nearest CAB, or looking under C in your phone book.
Help from a solicitor
You may have to pay for help from a solicitor, or it may be possible to get free help. There are various different ways a solicitor can be paid for, so it's worth looking into whether any of these could apply to you.
Some insurance policies include legal cover. This means you might be able to get a solicitor, and sometimes specialist representation, paid for by your insurance company. Check your household insurance, car insurance and any other policies you have, including policies attached to credit cards and mobile phones, or contact your insurance company to find out if you’re covered.
You cannot get legal aid for employment cases unless it is a discrimination problem.
To find out more about legal aid, see Help with legal costs.
NI Lawyers Pro Bono Group
The NI Lawyers Pro Bono Group may be able to help you with legal advice and representation by trying to find a barrister to work on your case. They provide help to people who can't afford to pay legal fees and who can't get legal aid.. You can find out more information about the NI Lawyers Pro Bono Group and how to apply to them by visiting http://www.barlibrary.com/about-us/ni-lawyers-pro-bono-group/
Finding your own solicitor if you have to pay
If you have to find your own solicitor, there are various organisations which may be able to help you do this. Make sure you check carefully what the solicitor’s fees are before you agree to use them.
The Law Society of Northern Ireland is the representative body for solicitors and may be able to help you find a private solicitor in your area. You can search their online database of solicitors and other legal advisers at: http://www.lawsoc-ni.org/
For more information about finding and using a solicitor, see Using a legal adviser.
A Law Centre may be able to offer you free, independent legal advice and representation. They focus on providing legal advice to people who find it difficult to get advice or who are experiencing discrimination.
You should contact your local Law Centre to see if they're able to help you. You can find their contact details at: http://www.lawcentreni.org/
There may be independent or not-for-profit advice agencies in your area that can help with your employment problem.
The Labour Relations Agency (LRA)
The LRA can provide confidential and independent advice to help you sort out your employment dispute. You can get advice by calling their helpline or looking on their website.
Equality Commission for Northern Ireland
You can find useful information about discrimination on the Equality Commission website at www.equalityni.org
This is the government's information website. It gives information about your rights at work and how to resolve a problem at work.
Website: www.nidirect.gov.uk .
Employment Tribunal information
You can find more information about employment tribunals and how to make a claim to a tribunal from the Office of the Industrial Tribunal and Fair Employment Tribunals website
Employment Tribunal Claims: tactics and precedents
This website provides information about the process of taking a claim to the employment tribunal, and useful informal advice on tactics and procedure.
More about problems at work
To find out more about problems at work and employment tribunals, see Sorting out problems at work.