Specialist Employment Law for Pubs

As part of the specialist service that TP Legal offers to the pubs industry, we can also assist you in ensuring that your business is healthy from an employment law and HR perspective.

Regardless of whether you are a freehold owner, a tenant or a leaseholder of a pub, you may still be responsible for the employment law and HR ramifications of running your business.

We are experts in assisting businesses of all kinds in running these aspects of their day-to-day activities, from handling the paperwork required at the outset of employment to managing difficult conversations, as well as advising on dismissals and tribunal claims.

We appreciate that you, as the operator of a pub, want to spend more time running your business than running the administrative functions that come with it, so the advice that we provide is designed to help take a load off of your shoulders.

Here are some things that you frequently need to consider when staffing your pub:-

Contracts of employment

From 6 April 2020, it became mandatory for an employee to be given a contract of employment on or before the start of their employment.

Failing to provide a contract of employment on or before an employee’s start can result in penalties. For example:-

• If an employment tribunal decides that an employee has successfully brought a main claim (such as breach of contract, wrongful dismissal, unfair dismissal or discrimination), it can award the employee 2 weeks’ pay where no contract of employment has been provided, or

• An employment tribunal may exercise its discretion to award an employee 4 weeks’ pay in any event.

Additionally, if you attempt to dismiss an employee for claiming that they should have been given a contract of employment, they may be able to claim automatically unfair dismissal, which means that they do not require 2 years’ continuous service before bringing a claim.

Staff handbooks and policies

You may not have a staff handbook or you may have one that you have not updated for several years. It is always worth having a staff handbook as they may be either contractual or variable at your discretion.

Just like a contract of employment, a staff handbook and the policies contained within it can be invaluable should you experience problems in the workplace.

You may require a social media and mobile phones policy, a sickness absence policy or a dress code. We would also recommend that you invest in policies covering grievance and disciplinary procedures so that you can remain both compliant and in control of the processes to be followed should a staff member raise a complaint or should you need to start a process against an employee.

Employees with less than 2 years’ service

Whilst employees with less than 2 years’ service usually cannot bring claims for unfair dismissal, it is a myth to believe that they cannot bring any claims at all and can therefore be dismissed for any reason.

Their length of service does not prevent them from claiming that they were wrongfully dismissed (for example, that they were not given and/or paid the correct amount of notice), automatically unfairly dismissed or discriminated against.

To be able to advise in respect of employees with any amount of service, we will require all of the information at your disposal. In doing this, we do not judge you or your business; we are your advisers and you can trust us not only with the relevant information, but also to identify and advise on a solution that meets you and your business.

Disciplinary and Grievance processes

If you have a problem with an employee or an employee raises a complaint, it is best to address these promptly and fairly. If they can be addressed informally, then that would be best for all concerned, but there are often circumstances that are so serious that no level of informality can effectively resolve them.

This is when you need to be certain that you are doing the right thing, ensuring that you understand the concerns fully and address those concerns in an independent and impartial manner. It may also be necessary for an investigation to be conducted to assist in gathering the relevant evidence so that recommendations can be made for you.

We frequently advise on disciplinary and grievance processes, helping to keep you compliant in line with the fundamental principles of managing a fair and balanced process, whilst limiting the damage to your business.

Sickness absence

Some events in life cannot be foreseen, such as an employee contracting a life-threatening illness. In other instance, an employee may have short, frequent spells of sickness absence that are affecting you, your business, and other members of staff.

Whatever the circumstances, it might be a knee-jerk reaction to simply dismiss the employee, so you need to be familiar with all the factors and all of the risks involved before you make a decision to dismiss.

We can help you in this process, not only in reviewing the information that you provide us, but in managing a process either for that member of staff to return on a sustained basis or for their exit from the business to be achieved at a minimum risk to your and your business.


When an employee is pregnant or starts her maternity leave, this should be a joyous life event.

Needless to say, as the employer, you hold certain responsibilities towards this employee, not only in terms of the payment of maternity pay (for a qualifying employee), but also:-

• Ensuring that she takes a minimum of 2 weeks’ compulsory maternity leave (or 4 weeks’ maternity leave for factory workers);

• Allowing her to return to her original job if she takes 26 weeks of ordinary maternity leave; and

• Allowing her to return either to her original job or to a job that is sufficiently similar to her original role if her original role is not available, if she takes a further 26 weeks of additional maternity leave.


You may be facing economic or functional reasons that mean that you no longer require the number of staff that you currently hire. For instance, your business or part of your business may be closing, or the precise roles are no longer required.

A redundancy process should ideally be entered into after you have a clear picture of why it needs to take place, which means that you need to be able to justify the reason(s) for a potential redundancy (if necessary) before an employment tribunal.

Aside from being mindful of those employees of yours who may have more than 2 years’ continuous service with you or those who may also have other claims, you should pay close attention to the number of employees who are potentially going to be made redundant. You are strictly required to consult with trade union representatives (or other elected employee representatives) if:-

• You have 20 to 99 employees facing redundancy and the first redundancy is due to take place in 90 days or less, which means that you should engage in at least 30 days of consultation; or

• You have 100 or more employees facing redundancy and the redundancy is due to take place in 90 days or less, which means that you should engage in at least 45 days of consultation.

The “who” and the “why” of redundancy are pivotal, as you will need to consider and respond to individual concerns alongside addressing issues that the employees or their representatives raise collectively.

We can help to guide you through the process of redundancy so that you are in a position to not only explore the available options with your employees, but also to know that you have made the right decision at the end of the day.

Transfer of undertakings

The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (commonly referred to as ‘TUPE’) come into play when employees are being transferred from one business to another, being outsourced to another provider or being brought back “in-house”.

Typically, in the pubs sector, this often arises when a publican is either taking on a pub or when they are transferring it.

The business transferring the employees is “the transferor” and the business accepting them is “the transferee”.

The effect of TUPE is to protect the employment rights of those employees who are transferring, unless there is a very good functional reason why their terms should be changed or there is a provision in their contracts of employment that allows for changes to their terms and conditions in certain situations. As either the transferee or the transferor, it is important that you are aware of the terms and conditions under which your employees are employed, as withholding information about the employees can either delay a transfer or lead to claims at a later date.

It is important that you consult with the employee representatives (who may be trade union representatives) prior to a TUPE transfer actually taking place. Strictly speaking, your obligation is to consult with the employee representatives of those employees who will be affected by the transfer, which could extend much wider than just being the employees who are transferring.

If you have less than 10 employees, you may qualify as being a microbusiness for the purposes of TUPE, so it is possible that you could consult with the employees directly instead of their representatives.

Our expertise will allow you to navigate your way through the TUPE Regulations towards a solution that meets your goals and protects you at the same time.

Budgeting for Employment Law Advice

Individual advice on Employment Law scenarios can be difficult to budget for, as we will need to take your specific instructions.

Our Employment Law Solicitor charges at an hourly rate of £200 plus VAT. We would recommend that you speak to him for more specific costs estimates.

However, we do offer Employment Law services on a fixed fee basis and have set these out below for convenience.

Health Check of Your Existing Contracts of Employment and Policies £550 plus VAT
This will include reviewing and advising on both your existing standard template contract of employment and your current staff handbook and/or policies.
Basic Contract of Employment £450 plus VAT
This will be a settlement agreement that can be adapted for use with all your employees.
Bespoke Contracts £600 plus VAT
This is for a form of contract that is more bespoke than a usual contract of employment, such as a consultancy agreement or a directors’ contract.
“Short” Staff Handbook £450 plus VAT
The size of a staff handbook will rely on a number of factors, such as the size of your business, the number of employees that you have, and any specific requirements that you may have for the handbook, together with the policies that you may decide to incorporate based on our advice.
“Long” Staff Handbook £900 plus VAT
The size of a staff handbook will rely on a number of factors, such as the size of your business, the number of employees that you have, and any specific requirements that you may have for the handbook, together with the policies that you may decide to incorporate based on our advice.
Individual Policies £250 plus VAT
Should you have an existing staff handbook and simply want additional policies or instead wish to purchase your policies on an individual basis as and when you need them.
Settlement Agreements £900 plus VAT
This will be for drafting a settlement agreement, as well as for negotiating the terms of that agreement with the employee or their representative. It will include all work required on the settlement agreement.

If you would like further information, please do not hesitate to contact us or complete the enquiry form below.