Glossary A-Z



The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) provides impartial advice for employers and employees. This covers workers’ rights in the workplace and codes of best practice. While these codes are not legally binding, they will be considered should a disciplinary case reaches the tribunal stage.

ACAS Early Conciliation (EC)

A system of mandatory pre-claim conciliation that applies to most employment disputes (relevant proceedings), under which one of the parties must contact Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) before a claim can be issued in the employment tribunal, unless one of the limited exceptions applies.

Annualised Hours Contract

A contract under which the employee’s working hours are calculated on an annual basis. Employees may negotiate any kind of working schedule with their employer, provided that they meet the basic annual minimum of hours stipulated by the contract.


An ‘appeal’ is defined as a challenge to a legal determination that has been made. In the course of an appeal, the individual will go to a higher legal power and ask them to overturn the decision. A further appeal can be made if this power fails to reach a conclusion in the case.


Burden of proof

A party that is subject to a ‘burden of proof’ has a legal requirement to produce evidence to support the truth of their stance in a dispute. This proof must convince the jury or magistrates beyond reasonable doubt. Parties without burden of proof on the other hand, are presumed to be correct until proven otherwise.


Capability meeting

A capability meeting is a meeting between an employee and their employer for the purposes of discussing issues with their performance at work. It typically involves the employer explaining why they believe the expected standards have not been met, along with the actions that should be taken. Employers should also use a capability meeting to identify the areas they can help the employee in, that will lead to performance improvement.


The claimant is the individual or party who brings forward a claim. In employment law, an individual who has issued a claim in an employment tribunal.. The party whom the claim is being made against is defined as the Respondent.

Compromise agreements

A written agreement, regulated by statute, whereby an employee or worker agrees to waive their right to bring or pursue certain employment tribunal claims against a respondent or potential respondent, usually their current or former employer.

Re-named as a settlement agreement in Great Britain by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 in all relevant primary legislation on 29 July 2013, and in secondary legislation on 30 August 2013 but still used in Northern Ireland where employment law is devolved.

Constructive dismissal

You may also see this referred to as ‘constructive discharge’ or ‘constructive termination’ in employment law. It occurs when an employee feels they have been forced to leave their job role against their wishes, due to the conduct of an employer. Claiming constructive dismissal requires major wrongdoing on the part of the employer, such as withholding pay.

Contract of employment

A contract of employment is a legally binding written agreement made between an employer and an employee. It contains terms and conditions which establish the work that is to be done, how it should be done, behavioural requirements, pay, benefits, and working hours. View our full range of employment contract services as well as if it’s a legal requirement to have a contract of employment. 

Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal in England and Wales is a court that hears appeals from the County Courts, High Courts, and Crown Courts, as well as specialist courts. It is therefore the highest court within England and Wales.

In Scotland, the Sheriff Appeal Court is a national court with a jurisdiction over civil appeals from the Sheriff Courts, and replaces appeals previously made to the Sheriffs Principal. The Sheriff Appeal Court is a national court with a jurisdiction over appeals summary criminal proceedings, and bail decision in solemn procedure, from the Sheriff Courts and Justice of the Peace Courts.


Directors’ Service Agreement

A Directors’ Service Agreement sets out the responsibilities that the director is legally obligated to carry out in their role. It also contains various rules which dictate how they must operate. In this way, it shares many similarities to a contract of employment. Our contract law services extend to directors’ service agreements. 

Disciplinary hearing

Disciplinary hearings are formal processes used by employers to discuss allegations of misconduct with an employee. The individual is made aware of the allegations against them, along with any evidence in support. They are then given an opportunity to answer questions, dispute the allegations, ask questions, call witnesses, and give evidence in return. Disciplinary hearings are typically pursued after other avenues of disciplinary action have been exhausted.


Employment tribunal

An employment tribunal is an independent public body with the jurisdiction to hear legal disputes between employers and employees. The nature of the disputes that can be resolved with employment tribunals can vary greatly. The tribunal will give a decision that must be carried out by law. Find out ‘Do most employers settle before tribunal?’. 

Employment equality

Equality in employment is built on the grounds that everyone in the workplace has equal job opportunities and is treated equally. Employment equality guarantees that no one is mistreated for the reasons outlined by UK discrimination law. Fair treatment requirements for employers also extend to job applicants.

Employment protection legislation

These laws are designed to protect both employers and employees. They serve to protect workers’ rights and employers’ interests, thus ensuring the employment relationship is mutually beneficial and fair. One of the best examples of Employment Protection Legislation in the UK is the Employment Rights Act 1996.

Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010, often called the Equalities Act 2010, is an act of Parliament of the United Kingdom passed during the Brown ministry with the primary purpose of consolidating, updating and supplementing the numerous prior Acts and Regulations, that formed the basis of anti-discrimination law in mostly England, Scotland and Wales; some sections also apply to Northern Ireland. These consisted, primarily, of the Equal Pay Act 1970, the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, the Race Relations Act 1976, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and three major statutory instruments protecting discrimination in employment on grounds of religion or belief, sexual orientation and age.

Equal pay

This concerns legislation on how men and women must receive equal amounts of pay for completing equal work. This applies to men and women who work identical or similar jobs. Many of the provisions for equal pay are outlined in the Equality Act 2010.

Equal opportunities

All applicants and workers must be given the same opportunities in the job market, as well as when they are in employment. This is regardless of protected characteristics, which include age, sex, race, sexual orientation, culture, religion/belief, disability, or another personal trait that could be discriminated against.


Fixed term contract

A contractual relationship entered into by an employer and a worker for a specified period of time. When the end date of the contract is reached, it will expire. Employers often use fixed term contracts to access skilled labour for the completion of work on a specific project. This contract will contain the same provisions as contracts given to permanent employees. If you’re interested in this topic, you might want to read ‘Does employment law apply to volunteers?’. 


Garden leave

Garden leave is when an employee is asked not to come into working during their notice period after resigning or having their employment terminated. They will still be on payroll and receiving their pay as normal during this time.

Genuine occupational requirement

Genuine occupational requirement is when there is some form of discrimination against an employee but there is a valid reason as to why. For example, if a certain job role can only be held by a woman due to it requiring physical contact with another woman to maintain their decency or privacy. This is a requirement of the job role without being discriminatory.

Grievance procedure

If an employee has concerns about their working conditions, work, or potentially a colleague, the grievance procedure is the route they might take to address those grievances. A grievance procedure is required before any claims can be pursued at employment tribunal.

Gross misconduct

A serious act committed by an employee that results in their employment being terminated immediately with no pay or notice period. Gross misconduct could be the result of actions like assault, theft, or harassment.



Unwanted behaviour that intends to or has the effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating a degrading, hostile, or humiliating environment in the workplace for that individual.

Human rights legislation

Human rights legislation refers to the Human Rights Act 1998 which sets out the core rights and freedoms that everyone in the UK is entitled to.


Indefinite term contract

An indefinite term contract is a type of employment contract that has no specific end date. This means their employment will continue indefinitely until either the employer or employee ends it. Indefinite term contracts are the most popular type of employment contracts in the UK.

Injunction / Interdict

An injunction is a court issued order that enforces what an employee can or cannot do. A common example of this is a business stating what an ex-employee isn’t allowed to do, such as sharing confidential business information or working for a competitor.

An Interdict (the Scottish version of the English ‘injunction’) is a court order to prevent a person from breaching your rights or committing a civil wrong. Breaching an interdict can result in a fine or imprisonment. There are many types of interdict available for different situations.


Inadmissible refers to something that is not allowed for example evidence in court that cannot be used as evidence for a specific reason would be deemed inadmissible.




Legal professional privilege

Legal professional privilege (LPP) protects confidential communication and evidence of that communication between a lawyer and a client. There are two types of LPP: legal advice privilege and legal litigation privilege.


The legal responsibility for an action, for example employer liability is the legal responsibility of the employer to pay any damages to an employee who has had an accident or injury in the workplace.

Litigant in person

A litigant in person is an individual who is defending themselves without the representation of a solicitor/barrister. This is most common during arbitration and can occur in employment tribunals where either party can represent themselves.



Misrepresentation is a false statement of fact, done either by words or through actions.


National minimum wage

National minimum wage or national living wage is the minimum hourly rate of pay and employer is legally required to pay to an employee. This figure changes regularly.


Negligence occurs when a legal duty of care has been breached due to positive duty not being carried out and the plaintiff suffers damage as a result.



PILON (Payment in lieu of notice)

Sometimes an employee can be entitled to payment in lieu of notice. This means they’ll be paid for their notice period, but they aren’t required to work during that time.

Pro-rata holiday

Pro-rata holidays are the holiday entitlements for an employee. How much holiday an employee is entitled to depends on how much that employee works in relation to a full-time worker. For example, if they work half as much, they will get half the number of holiday days compared to a full-time employee.




When an individual’s employment with a business is ended due to either the company going out of business, downsizing, or the employee’s role no longer being required. The worker might receive compensation for the loss of their job.


Remuneration is the money paid for work or a service or a salary for employment.


The respondent is the party whom a claim is made against in an Employment Tribunal. In most cases this is the employer but, in some situations, it will include individuals.

Restrictive covenants

This is a clause in an employment contract that establishes limitations on what an employee can do. Normally, this includes prohibiting an employee from directly competing with their former employer for a certain period of time after they leave the business.

Repudiatory breach

A repudiatory breach is when one party involved in a contract refuses to perform the terms agreed in the contract. This allows the innocent party the right to treat the contract as being disregarded so they are not required to stick to the terms.


Settlement agreement

A settlement agreement allows an employee to settle claims they have made against their employer, typically in return for a payment. For example, when an Employment Tribunal claims has been made or if an employee is leaving the business.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is unwanted verbal or written sexual conduct towards an employee. This might include comments about an employee’s appearance, offensive jokes, questions about their sex life, propositions, or making promises in return for sexual favours.

Statutory maternity pay

Statutory maternity pay is money from the government that is paid to women on maternity leave. At the time of writing statutory maternity pay is paid for up to 39 weeks.

Special damages

Special damages are compensation claimed for quantifiable loss from an injury sustained due to someone else’s negligence such as wages.

Statement of claim

A statement of claim is a document that states what the plaintiff is claiming for and why they believe they are entitled to a judgement from the tribunal.



‘Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations, or TUPE, are designed to protect an employees’ rights in certain circumstances. These are when:

  • An organisation, or a part of an organisation, is transferred from one employer to another.
  • A service changes to a new provider. For example, a contract for work is taken over by another company.


Unfair Dismissal

Unfair dismissal takes place when the proper rules for someone’s termination of employment are not followed. The rights of an employee during unfair dismissal vary depending of their circumstances. For someone that has worked for an employer for at least 2 years, unfair dismissal may have taken place if: 

  • The reason for dismissal was not ‘fair’. 
  • The reason was not enough to justify dismissal. 
  • The dismissal procedure that was followed was not fair. 

ACAS has published official guidance for employers on what the fair procedure should be for disciplinary and grievance procedures. 


Vento bands

Vento bands are guidelines that are used to determine the amount of compensation awarded to individuals as a result of employment tribunals due to injury to feelings or psychiatric injury. They consist of a series of tiered values based on the severity of the injury, which are typically updated on a yearly basis.


Under law, victimisation is defined as someone ‘suffering a detriment‘ due to the completion or intention to complete a ‘protected act’. The later consists of taking an action that relates to discrimination law, such as submitting a complaint or raising awareness of harassment or discrimination.


Without prejudice

A without prejudice ruling will be made to prevent statements being used as evidence when they have been made in the settlement of an existing dispute, in the event negotiations fail and further legal action is taken. Confidential interactions between parties involved in a dispute will often be marked as without prejudice so they cannot be referred to in tribunal proceedings. 

Witness statement

A witness statement is an official document that records the evidence given by a person, which is then signed by that individual to confirm the contents of the statement are true. These contents will typically contain details of what someone has heard, saw, done, or felt.

Working Time Regulations

Introduced in 1998, the Working Time Regulations is a statutory instrument of labour law in the UK. This includes: 

  • The maximum number of hours someone can work per week, as well as the options for working more hours if they want to. 
  • Night time working. 
  • Special arrangements in the case that someone cannot take rest due to an emergency. 
  • The right to rest during any working day, week, or year. 
  • Working hours and rest break allowances for young workers. 
  • Holiday entitlement. 

Wrongful dismissal

A wrongful dismissal occurs when an employee has been dismissed in such a way that results in a breach of contract. This will typically happen due to disparity in the notice given or how notice pay has been delivered. A claim of wrongful dismissal can be made regardless of how long the employee has worked for the employer.




Zero hours contract

A zero hours contract is a type of employment contract that is defined by UK labour law. They are more common in sectors that require working to be flexible. The contract creates a relationship between an employee and an employer where: 

  • The employer is not required to provide minimum working hours. 
  • The employee does not have to take any of the work that is offered. 
  • An employee on a zero hours contract is classed as an employee or a worker for the purposes of their employment status and the rights that come with it.