Can my employer dismiss me because I'm pregnant?

If your employer dismisses you because of your pregnancy you could make a claim to an Employment Tribunal for automatic unfair dismissal (regardless of how long you have been employed) and also for pregnancy discrimination.
 
You would need to be able to show an Employment Tribunal that the main reason for your dismissal was your pregnancy. You will need specialist help to do this and may wish to make an appointment at one of our bureaux or at one of our Employment Clinics

You have additional employment rights as soon as you are pregnant, therefore it is wise to tell your employer that you are pregnant as soon as possible.  This will also mean that their duty to protect you and your baby within the workplace commences. 
 
For more information about pregnancy and redundancy see here

For more information about maternity rights in the workplace, see Parental rights at work.

For information about dismissal, see Dismissal.

 

Posted on August 21, 2014 .

Can I get financial help if I go back to work?

If you work for 16 or more hours a week, you may be able to claim Working Tax Credit (WTC) to top up your earnings. If you work for less than 16 hours, you may be able to carry on claiming Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance. If you have children, you may be able to get Child Tax Credit (CTC) if you are not already claiming it, and you may be able to get help with childcare costs included in Working Tax Credit.

Depending on how much you earn, you may still be able to claim some Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction on top of your earnings and tax credits. Depending how long you have been on Income Support , Job Seekers Allowance or Employment Support Allowance, you may be able to get your Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction paid at the same rate for the first four weeks of work.

If you are getting help with mortgage interest, you may be able to get this paid for the first four weeks that you are in work, or increase your hours. This is called the ‘mortgage interest run-on’. 

The rules can be complicated - You can also visit CAE where we will do a benefits check for you. 

For more information about Working Tax Credit and help when you start a job, see Benefits and tax credits for people in work.

For more information about Housing Benefit, see Help with your rent - Housing Benefit.

For more information about Council Tax Reduction, see Help with your council tax – Council Tax Reduction.

For more information about Income Support, see Help for people on a low income – Income Support..

For more information about help for particular groups of unemployed people, see Government employment schemes.

Posted on April 29, 2014 .

I have lost my job. What benefits can I get?

The benefits you can get will depend on your individual circumstances.

If you are looking for work, you may be entitled to contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance. If you have children, you may be entitled to Child Tax Credit. If you are sick or disabled, you may be able to get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). If you are a lone parent or a carer, you may be entitled to Income Support.

You may receive help with rent and council tax by applying for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction. 

If you own your own home or are buying your own home and you receive Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related ESA or Pension Credit, you may be entitled to help with your housing costs, although this may not be available immediately.

Some benefits are contribution-based. This means that the amount and type of benefit you receive depends on how many, and what type of, national insurance contributions you paid when you were working. Other benefits are means-tested. This means that an assessment will be made of what income, savings or capital you have.

You can make an appointment to see us at CAE and we will run a benefits check for you and can also offer help with completing forms. 

For more information about benefits when you are looking for work, see Benefits for people looking for work.
For more information about Income Support, see Help for people on a low income – Income Support.
For more information about Pension Credit, see Benefits for older people.
For more information about benefits if you are sick or disabled, see Benefits for people who are sick or disabled.
For more information about Council Tax Reduction in Scotland, see Help with your Council Tax - Council Tax Reduction
For more information about Housing Benefit in England, Wales and Scotland, see Help with your rent – Housing Benefit
For more information about Child Tax Credit, see Benefits for families and children.

Posted on April 29, 2014 .

My identity has been stolen. What do I do?

Identity theft is a type of fraud which takes place when someone you don't know gets hold of your personal details and uses them to apply for credit or to open an account in your name.

If you have been a victim of identity theft you will usually not have to pay for any money you have lost, unless it can be shown that you have acted fraudulently or without reasonable care, for example by keeping your PIN number written down with your card. You must act quickly:

  • contact the bank straight away, keep a record of all conversations you have with them, and copies of any letters sent or received
  • report the matter to the police, and get a crime reference number
  • check with the credit reference agencies (details below) whether any applications for credit have been made in your name. If they have, you can ask to have the information removed from your file
  • if you suspect that someone has got hold of your details by stealing your mail, or has fraudulently applied to get mail redirected from your address, you should contact the Royal Mail Customer Enquiry Number on: 08457 740740
  • contact CIFAS, the UK's Fraud Prevention Service at ·www.cifas.org.uk. For a small fee they will make sure that anyone applying for credit in your name is automatically double-checked.

The credit reference agencies are:

Experian

Tel: 0844 481 8000
Website: www.experian.co.uk

Equifax

Tel: 08705 143700
Website: www.equifax.co.uk

Call Credit Check

Call Credit Check
Tel: 0870 060 1414
Website: www.callcreditcheck.co.uk

For more information and advice about identity theft, go to www.cardwatch.org.uk, or to the Home Office website at: www.identitytheft.org.uk.

Posted on April 29, 2014 .

Do shops have to take back faulty goods?

Goods bought from a shop must be fit for the purpose for which they were bought, match any description that is given and be of satisfactory quality. That means that goods should be what you reasonably expect them to be considering the price you paid. If these requirements are not met then you may have a legal right to reject them and get your money back. If you cannot get back to the shop for some days you should telephone and let the seller know that you have a problem with the goods and that you want to reject them and get a refund.

If you have kept an item for several weeks without properly checking it out and then discover a problem or fault, you may have difficulty in returning it and getting a refund because you would have had what is called ‘reasonable’ time to use the goods. There is no legal definition of what a ‘reasonable’ time is.

For more information on getting a refund when things go wrong with goods, see Common problems with products.

Posted on April 29, 2014 .

Am i entitled to paid holidays at work?

If you are an employee or a worker, you are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks' holiday a year (28 days for a full-time worker). This is called statutory holiday pay.

To work out how many days statutory holiday you can take a year, you need to multiply 5.6 by the number of days you work in a week.

For example:

  • if you work a five-day week, you are entitled to 28 days' paid holiday a year (5.6 X 5).
  • if you work 2.5 days a week, you are entitled to 14 days' paid holiday a year (5.6 X 2.5).

The maximum amount of statutory paid holiday you can be entitled to is 28 days. This applies even if you work more than five days a week.

Your contract of employment may give you more leave than this. Part-time workers are entitled to a pro rata amount.

Some workers are not automatically entitled to statutory leave (for example, members of the armed forces or police force) and these workers have to rely on their contracts of employment for their rights to holiday.

Your employer will decide when the leave year starts and finishes - it may run from 6 April one year to 5 April the next, or it may run from 1 January to 31 December. If your leave year includes time before 1 April 2009, your entitlement will be less. It is calculated on a pro rata basis - 4.8 weeks for the period before 1 April 2009 and 5.6 weeks for the period from 1 April 2009.

For more information about your right to paid holiday, see Holidays and holiday pay

Posted on April 29, 2014 .

My child is being bullied at school. What can I do?

First of all, talk to your child to hear what they have to say. Then arrange to speak to your child’s teacher. Ask whether the school has an anti-bullying policy and if you can see it.

If you are not satisfied with what the class teacher tells you, ask to see the head teacher and discuss the problem with them. If you are still not happy, you can contact the parent council (or equivalent body) or the education authority. If the bullying involves a criminal offence, for example, assault, harassment, intimidation, extortion or theft, then it should also be reported to the police.

There are several organisations which may be able to help you and your child.

For more information about bullying and organisations that can help, see Problems at school.

Posted on April 29, 2014 .

Do I have to tell employers how old I am?

Despite the fact that there are laws to stop age discrimination, there’s nothing to prevent a company asking your date of birth on an application form. But if you don’t get the job and you think it’s because of your age, you can use the fact that they asked you for your date of birth as possible evidence of age discrimination which is against the law. You may be able to make a claim for compensation.

If you have experienced discrimination, you can get help from the EASS discrimination helpline.

More about the EASS helpline

For more information about age discrimination at work, see Age discrimination at work

Posted on April 29, 2014 .

I've been called to serve on a Jury. Do I have to go?

This information applies to Scotland only

To serve on a jury for a criminal trial in Scotland you have to be aged 18. If you are aged 71 and over and you do not wish to serve on a jury in a criminal trial you can be excused. To serve on a jury for a civil trial in Scotland you have to be aged between 18 and 65. There are certain categories of people who can be excused, for example, a member of the Scottish Parliament or Westminster, a minister of religion or a full time member of the armed forces. Only fifteen people will be chosen from the much larger group that has been called. If you are not one of the exempted groups and you are selected, in most cases, you will have to serve on the jury. It is not usually a good enough reason to be excused to say that you are 'too busy' at work.

A person who has served on a jury can claim expenses for lost salary, child care, dependent adult care and travel. There is a maximum daily amount payable.

For more information, see Jury service.

Posted on April 29, 2014 .

How can I get a Divorce?

To get a divorce in Scotland a couple must comply with residence rules which are usually met if one or both of them have their usual home in Scotland.

There are two grounds for divorce and the court will grant a divorce if one of these two grounds is proved. The grounds are either that the marriage has irretrievably broken down or that an interim gender recognition certificate has been issued to either spouse. The irretrievable breakdown of a marriage can be established by any of the following circumstances: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, separation for one year with consent or separation for two years. An interim gender recognition certificate is issued to a transsexual person who wishes to obtain legal recognition of her/his acquired gender.

For more information about gender recognition, see the Advice Guide FAQ about gender recognition.

Do-it-yourself divorce is a simplified procedure which can be used if certain conditions are met (such as no dependent children and no jointly owned property). A solicitor is not usually needed.  When the conditions for a do-it-yourself divorce are not met you will have to use the ordinary divorce procedure and seek assistance from a solicitor. If both partners agree to the divorce, it proceeds as an undefended divorce. The applicant and any witnesses will submit statements to the court via the solicitor and may not need to attend court.

Where there is disagreement about the grounds for the divorce, or the arrangements for the children or money, the divorce proceeds as a defended divorce and it is advisable to use a solicitor.

The costs of a divorce can vary depending on the amount of work that solicitors have to do. Legal aid can be available for people who are eligible.

For more information on help with legal costs, see Help with legal costs.
For more information on divorce, see Ending a marriage.

Posted on April 29, 2014 .

Can Sheriff Officers come to my house and take my things?

This information applies to Scotland

In theory, yes. In practice, this is very rare. Before sending in sheriff officers, creditors must have tried other ways of collecting your money. They also need a court order to enter your home and seize your possessions, so it is very unlikely that this would happen.

Nevertheless, it is very important to make sure that things do not get to this stage. If your debts are getting out of hand visit our Debt Advice page and come and see us!

Posted on April 29, 2014 .

Someone used my credit card. What can I do?

You may be a victim of identity theft. This is a type of fraud which takes place when someone you don't know gets hold of your personal details and uses them to access your account.

If you have been a victim of identity theft and your card is still in your possession, you will not have to pay for anything bought on it without your permission. If your card has been stolen, the most you will have to pay is £50, unless it can be shown that you have acted fraudulently or without reasonable care, for example by keeping your PIN number written down with your card.

You must act quickly: contact your credit card company straight away, keep a record of all conversations you have with them, and copies of any letters sent or received; and report the matter to the police, and get a crime reference number.

For more information and advice about credit card fraud and identity theft, go to www.cardwatch.org.uk, or to the Home Office website at: www.identitytheft.org.uk.

Posted on April 29, 2014 .

My landlord won't return my deposit. What can I do?

This information applies to Scotland

A tenancy deposit is a sum of money a tenant pays to a landlord (or letting agency acting on a landlord’s behalf) as security against, for example, rent arrears, damage to property, or removal of furniture by the tenant. A deposit must not be more than two months' rent.

All private landlords are required by law to put tenancy deposits into an approved tenancy deposit scheme.

When a deposit is paid into a scheme it is protected and there is a dispute resolution service available if there is a dispute at the end of the tenancy about how the deposit should be paid back.

If you pay a deposit you should check the inventory of contents of the property you are renting (and the condition of the property and contents) before signing it. You may be held responsible for any discrepancies or damage and may forfeit some or all of your deposit when the tenancy ends. The inventory will be used as evidence if a dispute about the return of the tenancy deposit is referred to a dispute resolution service at the end of the tenancy.

A clause in the tenancy agreement covering the deposit may be challengeable because it is unfair, for example, a clause which does not allow for fair wear and tear.

For more information on tenancy deposits, see Finding accommodation.
For more information on court action, see What is a small claim.
For general information for tenants with problems, see Common problems with renting.

Posted on February 14, 2014 .

My Debts are out of control. What can I do?

This information applies to Scotland.

If you're in debt, don't panic. But it's important to do something, because the problem won't just go away. Don’t ignore calls or letters from the people you owe money to (your creditors). Contact them to explain why you’re having problems. Most organisations will be more helpful if you approach them first.

The first thing you need to do is make a list of all your creditors.

Once you've done this, you need to work out which ones are priority debts. A priority debt is one that could have serious consequences if unpaid. Not paying your rent or mortgage would leave you homeless, or not paying your gas or electricity bill could leave you being cut off and taken to court.

Non-priority debts are ones which have less serious consequences if you don't pay them. They include things like overdrafts, loans, hire purchase, credit card accounts and catalogue debts. However, if you don't pay your non-priority debts your creditors may take you to court.

When you have decided which are priority debts, work out how much you can realistically afford to pay back. To do this, you will need to make a list of all the income and expenses for your household.

Check your income and see if there are any benefits or tax credits you are entitled to that you are not getting. Look carefully at your spending and see if there is anything you are able to cut down on. For example, you could shop around for a cheaper gas or electricity provider, or look at cheaper mortgage or insurance providers.

When you've worked out how much you have left over after paying your expenses, contact each of your priority creditors. Show them your budget and try to make an arrangement to pay back what you owe.

If you can’t afford to pay anything to your priority creditors and your situation isn’t likely to get better, the outcome may be very serious. Get advice straight away.

How you deal with your non-priority debts will depend on whether you have any money left over from dealing with your priority debts and paying for essential household expenses like housing costs and food. If you have money to spare, you may have several options for dealing with your non-priority debts. However, if you have little or no money left, have nothing of value to sell and think your situation isn't likely to get better, your options will be very limited.

Be very careful about taking out further loans to pay off existing debts. You may end up paying back a lot more than you borrowed and the interest rates may be extremely high. Some loans can be secured against your home and you could end up losing it if you fail to make repayments.

You do not need to pay for debt advice. 

Citizens Advice Edinburgh can help you with all this and more, including helping you draw up a budget, increase your income if this is possible and negotiate with your creditors.

For more information please see here or come and see us!

Posted on December 10, 2013 .