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This briefing provides information about sources of legal advice and representation in employment law matters. 

Sources of legal advice

Legal advice should ideally be given by a suitably qualified person with professional liability insurance. There are some places where professional legal advice can be obtained free of charge and others where more general free advice and information about legal matters can be obtained.

In most cases, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) is the most appropriate initial source for anyone in need of external advice about a workplace dispute – their confidential helpline for free advice is 0300 123 1100.

Process to follow

Where appropriate, the employer’s disciplinary or grievance procedure should be used prior to starting legal proceedings. If dismissal has already taken place enquiries should be made as to whether there is an internal appeal process.

If an employer’s internal appeal process is exhausted without success the employee may decide to bring a claim to an employment tribunal. There are strict time limits for this. In general, claims will not be accepted once three months have passed following the event which gave rise to the claim. It is a legally required first step before bringing any claim to notify Acas, so that they can offer early conciliation before the claim proceeds to a tribunal.

For more information about the employment tribunal process itself, see the Library’s constituency casework article Making a claim to an employment tribunal.

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