A breach of contract at work happens when your employer fails to honor the terms written in your employment contract or agreement. However, note that you can also breach your contract by going against your employment terms such as turning up for work late or quitting your job without notice.
On the other hand, your employer can breach your contract by failing to pay your due wages or dismissing you wrongfully. While terms of your employment are usually included in your contract, some conditions are usually implied and therefore not available in your agreement. If you feel like your employer has breached your contract, below are some of the approaches you can use to handle the matter.
1. Hire a Lawyer to Review Your Agreement
When you suspect a breach of contract, you need to first identify the breach and review your agreement. Check your contract and find the clauses that point out the broken terms. Since some of the clauses may be written in complex legal language that can be difficult to understand, you should hire a lawyer to review your contract terms. Reviewing your agreement allows you to provide proof of your allegations to your employer, and legitimizes your claims.
Note that every seemingly unfair action that your employer takes constitutes a breach of contract. Hiring a lawyer to review your contract helps you establish whether your employer is liable for a breach of the contract given the terms of your agreement. It is important to double-check your agreement to confirm the breach of contract and ensure that you and your employer agreed and signed the agreement before taking further steps.
2. Have a Face-to-Face Discussion with Your Employer
Once you confirm that your employer has gone against your employment agreement, consider speaking to your employer face-to-face about the issue. A breach of contract can be unintentional, and your employer may not be aware of it. Talking to your employer enables both of you to be on the same page and allows you to solve the matter amicably.
You can talk to the HR or line manager and establish whether the breach was a result of a mistake that can be corrected. For unintentional breach of contract at work, a face-to-face talk with your employer can provide a solution within a short time and you won’t have to pursue the matter further.
Mediation is when you involve an impartial third party to help you handle the dispute. You can decide to contact your company’s trained mediators if you have them or reach out to agencies that offer professional mediation services for issues related to breach of contract at work. Mediation offers you a cheaper and simpler means of settling the dispute and gives you total control over the settlement. It may also strengthen your workplace relationships by diffusing stressful situations that come with the breach of contract.
If you opt for mediation, ensure that you write down the problem as well as your acceptable possible outcomes. You should also agree that the results of the mediation will be legally binding before you begin the exercise.
4. File a Lawsuit
Filing a lawsuit against your employer should be the last resort when handling a breach of contract at work. Note that while in court, you can only claim the financial loss you have suffered as a result of the breach. It is, therefore, not advisable to sue your employer if you don’t incur any losses. The high legal fees and other factors like the uncertainty of the court rulings make lawsuits a stressful affair that you should only consider if it is worth it.
If you decide to take legal action, work with a lawyer who has the experience and skill to handle court cases involving a breach of contract at work. Also, ensure that you have adequate supporting documents for your case such as your payslip, job description, and a staff handbook. You can use the documents as proof in case the terms your employer breached are not written in your employment contract.
5. Breach of Contract by Employee
A breach of contract does not apply to the employer alone. Employees can also be responsible for breaching employment contracts by acting against the terms of the agreement. In such cases, your employer can take disciplinary action against you which may include dismissal. While it is uncommon, your employer can also decide to sue you for damages incurred as a result of the breach. However, lawsuits for damages due to a breach of contract by employees normally apply to professionals who are highly paid.
If your contract is breached at work, always check your agreement and company policies before taking any action. Doing so gives you directions on the acceptable methods of resolution to ensure you follow the proper channels when addressing the issue.