Are you an SME needing help with your Employment Contracts and Staff Handbook?

What information must be included in an employment contract?

Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 requires employers to give employees a “written statement of particulars of employment” not later than 2 months of the employee commencing their employment. Section 1(4) lists the information that must be included. However, some information can, and usually is, given in a Staff Handbook.

What information is usually included in a Staff Handbook?

A Staff Handbook will usually include a number of written policies. For the most part, policies set out in the Staff Handbook are there as a matter of good practice, to set out the standards expected of all employees, to assist running the business, and to reduce legal risk by making sure employees and managers understand the legal rights and responsibilities inherent in the employment relationship. Typical handbooks will include policies on the following:-

  • Disciplinary procedures
  • Grievance procedures
  • Health and safety
  • Equal opportunities
  • Data protection
  • Bribery
  • Social media
  • IT policy


We can produce other policies and tailor them to suit the needs of your business.

At Hastings and Co we offer fixed fee packages for employers.

For the smaller business employing between 1-15 employees we would prepare your Staff Handbook and contracts of employment for a fixed fee of £400 plus VAT.

For businesses with more than 15 employees we can offer a sliding scale fixed fee service.

Need a FREE review of your current contract of employment?

It is important to remain compliant with the ever changing legal requirements as an employer.  Your business may have had contracts of employment drafted some time ago which need reviewing, or you may have drafted contracts ‘in-house’ and are worried they are not ‘fit for purpose’.

Hastings and Co will be happy to review your current contract for free giving you peace of mind. If there are any areas for concern then we will advise you of the changes required.   You are under no obligation  to instruct us to undertake these.

We do however offer competitive fixed fees for the preparation of documents if they are deemed necessary.

If you require advice relating to any of the above please call 01621 876031






Who can I instruct to advise on a Settlement Agreement

Hastings and Co Solicitors specialise in Settlement Agreements


What are Settlement agreements?

A Settlement  Agreement is an agreement between an employer and an employee. Settlement agreements are an offer from the employer of financial compensation or another incentive to an employee, which is usually above and beyond what you would be entitled to upon termination of your  contract.

When does an employer offer a settlement agreement?

Your employer will offer you a settlement agreement when they wish to terminate your employment. The onus is on the employer to adequately compensate you for the loss of your job. Once you sign and enter into this agreement you will have no legal rights to claim against your employer at a later date for any further financial reward or compensation.

What am I entitled to in a Settlement Agreement?

It is essential that you seek expert legal advise prior to signing any offer made to you by your employer. Individuals are often  surprised to learn of what they may or may not be entitled to.

At Hastings and Co, Liam is an experienced employment solicitor having provided advice to employees regarding settlement agreements for over 17 years.  Liam will quickly identify what you are entitled to and if appropriate will negotiate better terms for you as an employee before you agree to sign the agreement.

Liam will explain everything simply, in plain English so that you will be confident in his advice at this crucial point in time. He will negotiate the best compensation package for you depending upon your circumstances, should the original offer not be in your best interest.

How much will it cost me to instruct a solicitor to advise on a settlement agreement?

It is a key feature of Settlement Agreements that the employee must receive independent legal advice and it is usual for the employer to pay for that advice. This is usually a pre-determined set fee stated within the settlement agreement itself. Liam would simply charge the employers direct for his services.

Once I have signed a settlement agreement can I make a claim against my employer for compensation

The simple answer is, no. Once the agreement has been signed the only action you can take against your employer is to enforce the agreement itself.

Claims for additional compensation made at a later date cannot be made under any circumstances which is why you seek advice at Hastings and co.

For simple, friendly expert advice call 01621 876031


Lease Extension Solicitors

Flats are usually owned under a long lease. As the term of the lease decreases the flat becomes less valuable. Once the term of the lease is less than 60 years it will become increasingly difficult to mortgage and therefore more difficult to sell and probably less valuable. However, subject to a few exceptions, owners of flats have a right to extend the lease on their flats under the Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 (hereon “the Act”). This blog takes a brief look at lease extensions and answers some frequently asked questions.

Am I a qualifying Tenant for a lease extension?

Generally, you will be a qualifying Tenant if your lease was for more than 21 years when it was originally granted and you have been the registered Lessee of your flat for more than 2 years and provided that your Lease is not excluded. Leases are excluded if the freeholder is the Crown, National Trust or part of a building within a cathedral precinct. Shared ownership leases do not qualify unless your shareholding has been increased to 100%.

What is the procedure for obtaining a lease extension?

There are two ways of obtaining a lease extension – either by agreement with the Landlord outside the Act or by using the procedure set out in the Act. The procedure under the Act is started by serving a notice on the Landlord (a “section 42 Notice”). We will not outline the entire procedure here but suffice to say that if an agreement is not reached the Tenant will need to make an application to the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber).

How much will it cost to extend my lease?

You will have to pay a premium to the Landlord. You will also have to pay your Landlord’s costs including his legal costs and surveyor’s costs. You will also have to pay for your own legal costs and surveyor’s costs.

Will I need to instruct a solicitor?

There is no legal requirement to instruct a solicitor howeverThis  the lease extension process can be difficult and complicated and for most people it will be beneficial to instruct a solicitor. Since Landlords/Freeholders are entitled to recover their legal costs from the Tenant/Leaseholder there is little advantage to be gained by not appointing a solicitor.

Hastings & Co Solicitors can assist both landlords and tenants in connection with lease extensions.

t: 01621 876 031.


National Minimum Wage Increase

On April 1st 2017, the UK National Wage will be increasing

  • For Apprentices the rate will increase from £3.40 to £3.50
  • For those under the age of 18 the rate will increase from £4.00 to £4.05
  • For those aged 18-20 the rate will increase from £5.55 to £5.60
  • For those aged 21-24 the rate will increase from £6.95 to 7.05
  • For those aged 25 and over the rate will increase from £7.20 to £7.50

Hastings & Co Solicitors are based in Maldon, Essex and specialise in Employment Law. Please telephone 01621 876 031 or email for advice.


Hastings & Co Solicitors successfully defend constructive dismissal claim

We recently acted for an employer in successfully defending a claim for constructive dismissal.

The facts briefly are that the employer confronted the employee about some allegations which if proven would have likely amounted to gross misconduct. The employee went off sick for several months before resigning and making a claim for constructive dismissal. The employee alleged that the employer was aggressive and oppressive in the manner in which the employee was confronted.

Constructive dismissal occurs where the employer commits a fundamental breach of contract and the employee resigns in response to the breach. It is a key feature of a constructive dismissal claim that the employee must not affirm the contract and waive the breach of contract. This means that an employee wishing to claim constructive dismissal should resign immediately and any delay could be detrimental to the claim.

In this case the determined that the employee had affirmed the contract by not resigning immediately and consequently the constructive dismissal claim failed.

Hastings & Co Solicitors are based  in Chelmsford and Maldon and specialise in Employment Law. For further information contact Liam Hastings on 01621 876 031 or email

Disclaimer: this blog only gives a brief overview of the law and is not intended as a substitute for legal advice.

Hastings & Co Solicitors win substantial settlement

Hastings & Co Solicitors have recently helped one of their clients win a substantial settlement in connection with a property dispute.

We acted for a client in a dispute with her former partner (we’ll call him Mr X). The parties had previously lived together and when they separated entered into a Separation Agreement. As part of the agreement Mr X agreed to continue paying the mortgage on the family home until their child attained the age of 18. In breach of the agreement Mr X stopped paying the mortgage and applied to the County Court to vary the Separation Agreement. We defended the claim and made a counterclaim against Mr X for damages for breach of the Separation Agreement.

At a court hearing Mr X was ordered to pay our client substantial damages and costs.


Hastings & Co Solicitors specialize in litigation and dispute resolution and can advise in connection with disputes between co-owners of property.

T. 01621 876 031


Hastings & Co settle claim against solicitors

Hastings & Co Solicitors recently acted for a business in a claim against its former solicitors.

The facts briefly were that our client had entered into an assignment of a lease for a shop and the solicitor who acted for them had failed to advise them that there was a restriction in the lease that would prevent them operating their business from the premises.

Upon completion of the assignment our client duly relocated their business to the shop premises. Everything seemed okay until the freeholder  of the premises discovered that the business was using the premises in breach of the restriction.

The freeholder served a section 146 notice (section 146 of the Law of Property Act 1925) on the business and thereafter issued forfeiture proceedings against their tenant. That’s where we got involved. We acted for the business in defending the forfeiture proceedings and renegotiating the lease. At the same time we brought a claim against the solicitors for losses arising out of their failure to properly advise their client.

Hastings & Solicitors can handle claims against solicitors, accountants, surveyors and other professionals. We also advise and act for clients in connection with different types of civil disputes.

Tel: 01245 835 305


Hastings & Co Solicitors win claim against car dealer

Hastings & Co Solicitors recently acted for a consumer in connection with a claim against a car dealer concerning a faulty car.

The facts briefly were that the consumer purchased a car which subsequently broke down on the drive home from the dealership.

Under English law goods must be “fit for purpose” and of a “satisfactory quality”. If they are not fit for purpose or of a satisfactory quality the purchaser can reject the goods provided they have not been “accepted”.

In this instance the consumer rejected the car however the dealer refused to take it back or refund the monies paid. We subsequently acted for the consumer in connection with legal proceedings in the County Court. The claim settled on the morning of the hearing when the dealer agreed to refund the purchase price and also pay the consumer’s consequential losses which included storage costs.

Hastings & Co Solicitors specialise in litigation and dispute resolution. For advice or assistance telephone 01245 835 305.

Disclaimer: this blog is only intended to give a brief overview of the law and is not a substitute for independent legal advice.

Hastings & Co Solicitors win constructive dismissal claim

Hastings & Co Solicitors recently acted for an employee in a successful constructive dismissal claim against their former employer.

Constructive dismissal occurs when the employee resigns in response to something which the employer has done. The employee feels that they have no choice but to resign.

In this instance the employee felt that they were being forced out of the company and after a number of incidents eventually resigned. Hastings & Co Solicitors then acted for the employee in bringing a claim for constructive dismissal in the employment tribunal. The claim eventually settled shortly before trial.

Hastings & Co Solicitors act for employers and employees and specialise in all aspects of employment law including constructive dismissal claims.

T. 01245 835 305.

Disclaimer: this blog is only intended to give a brief overview of the law and is not a substitute for independent legal advice.

Employment Law Update: Minimum Wage Rise

With effect from today the national minimum wage has increased. The rates have increased as follows:-

  • for apprentices the rate has increased from £2.68 to £2.73 per hour.
  • for those aged 16 and 17 the rate has increased from £3.72 to £3.79 per hour.
  • for those between 18 and 20 the rate has increased from £5.03 to £5.13 per hour.
  • for those aged 21 and over the rate has increased from £6.31 to £6.50 per hour.

Hastings & Co Solicitors are based in Essex and specialise in Employment Law. Please telephone 01245 835 305 for advice or email