What is Employment Law? – How to Become an Employment Lawyer
Employment law is an area of legal practice that relates to everything that we do in the world of work. It spans a vast array of topics from employees and their rights, an employer’s rights, duties and obligations and much more.
The balance between employee and employer in both small family-run companies and multinational corporates is vital. This is the fundamental principle underpinning employment law.
On this page, you can read about how to become an employment lawyer, what you’re likely to be doing if you specialise in the area and how much the average solicitor earns.
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What is Employment Law?
Employment law includes everything from resource-hiring, conduct, promotion and workplace grievances to employment termination – either voluntary or forced.
An employment lawyer may represent an individual employee, group of employees or an employer. If acting on behalf of the employee/s, the lawyer will be responsible for obtaining and collating research and information, preparing relevant documents, providing advice and handling dispute resolution through arbitration and negotiations, along with organising the settlement agreement.
The role of an employment lawyer is also to give advice against claims to the businesses and institutions involved, gather and explore HR policies focusing on all elements of the employment agreement, and carry out negotiations with both the employer and trade unions, when applicable.
Employment Law Basics
Employment law features throughout the lifecycle of an individual’s employment. Therefore, this area of law can be applied to all manners of instances that occur in the working life of both an employee and employer, including (but not limited to):
- Employment Status
- Employment Terms and Conditions
- Data protection
- Working hours and pay
- Holiday entitlement and pay
- Sick day entitlement, process, procedures and pay
- Maternity, paternity and parental rights
- Health and safety
Why does Employment Law exist?
Employment law is here to protect every individual in the working world. Without it, there would be no clear authority on the multifaceted, complex and, at times, contentious area of employment.
With legal guidance in place, as a society, we can help:
- Prevent discrimination, bullying and an unequal balance of power
- Promote good health and safety practices
- Create a minimum standard of entitlements and pay
The Employment Rights Act 1996
The Employment Rights Act 1996 governs the area of employment law. This legislation is a comprehensive framework that underpins the modern working environment.
Contained within the statute are several key parts that set out:
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- The definition of an employment contract, the terms and the expectations contained within
- Employees’ wages and payments
- Disclosures and determinants
- Work, training, natal care and health and safety
- Dismissal notice
- Regulations relating to unfair dismissal
- Employee’s rights in the event of insolvency
How to Become an Employment Lawyer
Below is the most common step-by-step route for those wondering how to become an employment lawyer:
- Study a standard three-year Law/LLB degree at University, or study an alternative subject and then complete the one-year (full time) or two-year (part-time) law conversion course, known as the GDL.
- Complete a Legal Practice Course if you would like to train as a solicitor, or a Bar Professional Training course if you would like to become a barrister.
- Join a law firm specialising in employment law to gain practical, in-house training. Research appealing and relevant employment law firms during your initial studies as work experience in this field is invaluable in helping you to decide whether employment law is for you and to secure a training contract.
Please note: From 2021, the route to becoming a solicitor is expected to change. Although the GDL and the LPC will be available for some time, they will be replaced with one comprehensive exam called the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).
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Employment Lawyer Salary
The average salary of an employment lawyer in the UK is £32,500 (gathered from a sample size of 1,200).
Central London boasts the highest salary bracket at £42,500-£97,500, with £60,000 forming the average salary. Swindon, the City of London, South West London, West London, East London, Coventry, Bristol, Leeds and South East London make up the top ten geographies in the UK for the highest average employment lawyer salaries.
Barristers, who are self-employed, can enjoy higher salaries than solicitors, who are traditionally employed by a law firm. However, the working hours and associated costs with self-employment will need to be considered, so weighing up both options before embarking on either route is recommended.
Employment Law Firms
There are plenty of law firms specialising in employment law and other firms with dedicated employment law departments. Examples of these UK firms in and outside of London include the following:
Employment Law Books
There are several useful books on the market to help those studying the subject. They include:
|Employment Law: The Basics||David Lewis||£36
|Employment Law||Prof. Malcom Sargeant||£32
|Employment Law 2019||Gillian Phillips and Karen Scott||£33
|Employment Law: An Introduction||Stephen Taylor and Astra Emir||£34
Words: Natasha Spencer-Jolliffe
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