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A to Z of Employment Law Terms

Are you confused by some of the technical jargon used by employment lawyers or HR professionals? Blacks Solicitors’ A to Z of employment terms is here to help you understand what they are saying.


A Week’s Pay – A capped sum used as the basis for calculating weekly earnings for the purposes of several statutory rights.

Acas – Is the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, an independent organisation that seeks to promote improvement in industrial relations. Acas publishes a Code of Practice and will mediate employment disputes.

Adoption Leave – Parents of adopted children are entitled to 52 weeks’ leave, subject to eligibility.

Age Discrimination – Direct or indirect discrimination on the grounds of someone’s age.

Agency Worker – Someone who registers with an Employment Agency and undertakes work for the Agency’s clients.

Apprentice – Someone who is employed at a junior level under one of a number of specified government–recognised apprenticeship schemes for the primary purpose of training and development.

Basic Award – An award made by the Employment Tribunal to compensate for unfair dismissal. This award is calculated using a formula based on the employee’s age, length of service, and weekly pay.


Breach of Contract (BOC) – When either party to a contract breaches one or more of its terms.


Casual Workers – Workers employed on an ad hoc basis, often in industries such as catering and agriculture. The work offered to a Casual Worker is usually seasonal or in an industry which has variable needs throughout the year.

Collective Agreement – An agreement or an arrangement between an employer and a trade union.

Compensatory Award – An award made by the Employment Tribunal to compensate employees for the losses they have incurred as a result of the termination of their employment.

Conciliation – An alternative dispute mechanism which aims to resolve disputes outside the Employment Tribunal.

Constructive Dismissal – The employee is forced to resign from their employment due to the actions of their employer making the working relationship untenable and breaching their Contract of Employment.

Continuous Employment – A minimum period of service with an employer before an employee accrues certain employment rights (such as the right to bring an unfair dismissal claim or to claim Statutory Maternity Pay).

Contract of Employment – A written agreement governing the relationship between the employee and the employer. Sometimes referred to as a “Section 1 Statement”, or a written statement of terms and conditions.


Disability Discrimination – Direct or indirect discrimination connected with a disability.

Disciplinary and grievance procedures – The process to be followed when there are allegations of misconduct against an employee or when an employee wishes to raise a grievance against their employer.

Discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief – Direct or indirect discrimination connected with religion or belief.

Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation – Direct or indirect discrimination connected with sexual orientation.

Dismissal – When the employer terminates the Contract of Employment with the employee.


Early Conciliation – A mandatory procedure operated by Acas which must be initiated and concluded before a claim is issued in the Employment Tribunal.

Effective Date of Termination (EDT) – The date upon which the employee’s employment terminates for the purposes of employment legislation.

Employee – Someone who is contracted to carry out certain duties in accordance with their Contract of Employment.

Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) – Hears appeals against decisions of the Employment Tribunal.

Employment Tribunal (ET) – Hears employment disputes. Cases are adjudicated by one legally qualified Employment Judge who may sit alone or with two lay members with appropriate experience.

Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) – Promotes understanding of the importance of equality and diversity, encourages good practice in relation to equality and diversity, promotes equality of opportunity, enforces the Equality Act 2010 and works towards the elimination of unlawful discrimination and harassment.


Fixed-Term Contract – A Contract of Employment that terminates upon the expiry of a fixed-term, on completion of a particular task or on the occurrence (or non-occurrence) of a specific event.

Flexible Working – The right to request a flexible working pattern of employment.


Garden Leave – A period when, typically, an employee is asked not to attend work or contact clients or customers, but still receives their salary and contractual benefits.

Gig Economy – A way of working whereby an individual is self-employed but takes on numerous short term “gigs” for different organisations.

Gross Misconduct – Misconduct so serious as to justify the dismissal of an employee without notice or a payment in lieu.

Guarantee Payment – A payment made to employees who have been laid off.


Harassment – Unwanted conduct violating another person’s dignity, or creating an offensive, intimidating, or hostile environment.

Handbook – A paper-based or electronic document containing an employer’s employee-related policies and procedures.

Holiday – A period of time where the employee does not attend their place of work but continues to receive their usual pay.


Industrial Action – Can include strikes, working-to-rule, go-slow, or an overtime ban.


Maternity Allowance (MA) – A social security benefit paid to those who are not entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay.

Maternity Leave – A period of leave an employee is entitled to take upon the birth of their child.


National Living Wage (NLW) – A premium added to the National Minimum Wage for all workers aged 25 and over (introduced in April 2016).

National Minimum Wage (NMW) – A minimum hourly rate of pay which workers in the UK are entitled to receive.

Notice – A period of time that must be given to the other party before terminating a Contract of Employment.


Parental Leave – A period of leave in addition to Maternity or Paternity Leave.

Part-time Workers – Workers who work fewer hours than comparable full-time workers and who are generally paid by reference to the hours they work.

Paternity Leave – A period of leave the father of a child is entitled to take following a child’s birth.

Protected Characteristics – Characteristics that are protected by the Equality Act 2010, namely age, race, sex, disability, gender, religion or belief, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy, and maternity.

Protected Conversation – Properly described as a “pre-termination negotiation”, it is a framework for a discussion with an employee which will be inadmissible in evidence in any later unfair dismissal claim.

Protective Award – An award which the Employment Tribunal may order an employer to pay to its employees if it has failed to inform and consult the employees’ representatives when making 20 or more employees redundant.


Race Discrimination – Direct or indirect discrimination on the grounds of race.

Redundancy – Where an employer decides to reduce or relocate its workforce (often due to a reduction in work) leading to one or more employees having their employment terminated.

References – Information given to a future employer highlighting an employee’s key achievements and responsibilities whilst in employment.


Settlement Agreement – A written agreement complying with certain strict statutory requirements which has the effect of waiving those statutory rights of an employee which are identified in it. Originally referred to as a ‘Compromise Agreement’.

Sex Discrimination – Direct or indirect discrimination on the grounds of gender.

Shared Parental Leave – An entitlement for eligible parents of babies and adopted children to share maternity rights and benefits for their child during the child’s first year.

Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) – Payments made by an employer to an employee who is on Adoption Leave.

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) – Payments made by an employer to an employee who is on Maternity Leave.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) – Payments made by an employer to an employee who is on Sick Leave.

Strike – A mass refusal of employees to continue to work, often arranged by a trade union in protest over an employer’s actions.

Suspension – Where an employer sends an employee home and does not give them any work to do, but they remain an employee entitled to pay and benefits. This usually happens when the employer is investigating an employee’s alleged misconduct.


Terms and Conditions of Employment – Usually found in the Contract of Employment. The terms and conditions record the terms upon which the employee works for the employer.

Trade Union – An organisation which consists of workers whose principal purpose is the regulation of relations between workers and their employers.

Transfer of Undertakings (TUPE) – Legislation that regulates what happens to employees when a business is transferred from one owner to another, or where responsibility for an out-sourced service is transferred.


Unfair Dismissal (UD) – The reason and the manner in which the dismissal of an employee was handled.

Unlawful Deduction from Wages – The deduction of any sum from an employee’s wages without authorisation or consent.


Victimisation – An individual treats another person unfavourably because they suspect or know that the person is intending to perform a Protected Act. A Protected Act includes discrimination proceedings, giving evidence in proceedings, or making an allegation of unlawful dismissal.


‘Without Prejudice’ Conversation – A rule which will generally prevent statements made in a genuine attempt to settle an existing dispute (whether oral or written) from being put before a Court or Tribunal as evidence of an admission by the party making the statement.

Worker – Someone who works under a Contract of Employment or any other contract (written or oral) whereby they undertake to perform certain duties on behalf of the employer.

Working Time Regulations (WTR) – Legislation that regulates the number of hours an employee is to work, the employment of children, rest breaks, and holidays.


For more information about how we can help you with any of the above, or for a free no obligation discussion, please email or call our Employment Law team today on 0113 207 0000.

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