Your employees are the foundation of your company, so treating them fairly and consistently will lead to a productive, loyal workforce, as well as helping you stay out of the Employment Tribunal. You are not always able to stop an individual from bringing a tribunal claim, but you can mitigate the risk of it happening by treating everyone that comes into contact with your company, whether they are an employee or a prospective employee, fairly and reasonably. Our Employment team explain here the main ways that you can reduce the risk of a tribunal claim being brought against you, and how we can also help.
It’s always a good idea to be sure your employees have heard from you, particularly those on maternity leave. Our Employment team reviews a recent case in which an employer failed to communicate with their employee correctly regarding redundancies at the business, and found themselves in Tribunal as a result.
With Mental Health Awareness Week upon us, we are considering the impact the workplace can have on our mental health. Employers will be aware of employees going off sick when they are unwell, but there is a growing rise in presenteeism. Our Employment team here review what this means, and how businesses can be supporting their employees through any concerns about their mental health.
Having managers who are fully aware of the risks of discrimination, bullying and harassment is a vital step for any employer to avoid potential Tribunal claims. This was proven in the recent case of Nixon v Royal Mail Group Limited; our Employment team review the case here and advise how employers can take steps to prevent being in the same situation themselves.
Redundancies are unfortunately a necessary measure for some businesses, and it is important that if this is the case for your business that you follow the right procedure to reduce the risk of Tribunal claims. If you have employees on maternity leave, there are additional conditions that must be applied; our Employment team discuss these today and explain the next steps if you are considering redundancies.
A recent case has highlighted the complicated nature of discrimination claims and protected characteristics; our Employment team review the case here and advise employers on their best course of action.
Settlement agreements are increasingly being used by employers in dismissal or redundancy situations; after signing a settlement agreement an employee has waived their rights to bring a claim against their employer. While they are usually standard documents, it is important that the clauses are reviewed to ensure that they best suit their individual needs. Our Employment team reviews here the most common terms used in settlement agreements, and what you should do if you are asked to sign one by your employer.
Tackling inappropriate comments in the workplace should be at the top of every employer's agenda when it comes to employee relations. This was proven in a recent Employment Tribunal case where an employee was called a "baby farmer". Our Employment team reviews the case and advises employers on the steps they should take to tackle such comments.
Settlement agreements are commonly used to settle or waive any employment related claims an employee or worker may have against an employer. Our Employment team specialise in advising employees and workers on their rights regarding settlement agreements, and are regularly asked whether the payment they receive will be taxed. Here, the team answer this question, as well as advise on the next steps should you be presented with a settlement agreement.
Staff pregnancies can be a complicated area when it comes to reasonable adjustments. The case of Town v The Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police is one example. Here, our Employment team reviews the case and highlights the importance of risk assessments and reasonable adjustments for pregnant employees.
If you feel you are being treated detrimentally, or you have been dismissed, due to reporting on your employer, you could have a claim for whistleblowing. Our Employment team reviews the two different claims you could have in this situation, and how you should proceed if you have questions.
The case of Pimlico Plumbers and another v Smith has been regularly in the news over recent years and that doesn't show signs of stopping. Our Employment team review here the outcome of another case involving these parties, this time involving holiday pay.
With the continued rise in employers using restrictive covenants within employment contracts, it is important that employees are aware of their rights and responsibilities, from signing the contract of employment to their enforceability once they move to different employment.
Issuing employees with a statement of particulars in a legal requirement and one that must be done within a certain timeframe. A recent case however has led to the question of when such a statement should be provided.
If you have been dismissed or made redundant, you may be presented with a settlement agreement from your employer. These agreements are increasingly being used by employers in these situations as by doing so you are waiving your right to bring a claim...
Making reasonable adjustments is important not only for employees but also for employers to ensure they provide equal opportunities for all candidates and members of staff. Our Employment team today review a case discussing this topic; Proctor v Haxby...
Making redundancies will be a difficult decision for your business, but one that sometimes cannot be avoided. Conducting a fair redundancy process is crucial, not only for the wellbeing of your employees, but also to avoid a potential Employment...
Occupational Health reports can be used in a number of cases, for example, if an employee is off sick, has taken frequent short term absences, or in the recruitment process if necessary. Absences can be disruptive to your business and Occupational Health can...
Mr Flemming was employed by East of England Ambulance Services NHS Trust from April 2009 to November 2015. He suffered from a mixed anxiety and depression disorder which classed him as disabled under the Equality Act 2010, however Mr Flemming was confident...
If you are dismissed without notice you may wish to extend your length of service to enable you to bring a claim against your employer. Our Employment team explain here whether this is possible and when you may be entitled to extend your length of...
Mr Plaistow was a prison officer who was transferred to Her Majesty’s Prison Woodhill in September 2014. He was later suspended in January 2016 and dismissed from his role for gross misconduct in August 2016. ...
It is necessary for some roles for an employer to have a full picture of the employee’s criminal background, but this is not true for all professions; you will need to decide if a voluntary disclosure is sufficient for the role, or if an official...
In 2016, Middlesborough Football Club deducted the cost of season tickets from employees' wages over a period of several weeks. HMRC stated that such deductions amounted to the club's employees being paid less than the NMW, breaching the National...
Going through a capability procedure (often referred to as a poor performance procedure) can be stressful for employees, so they may be entitled to support via a companion during a meeting to enable them to convey their point of view. Our Employment Team...
In 2006, Ms Varnish was selected for British Cycling’s World Class Programme, where she progressed to the Olympic Academy Programme and subsequently to the Olympic Podium Programme – competing among elite world-class cyclists. Between 2006 and...
Conducting disciplinary or grievance proceedings are a part of any HR or managerial role and it is vital that these are carried out fairly to avoid any potential Tribunal claims against you. If witness statements are required from the employee’s...
Employment law is constantly evolving, so it can be hard to keep track of the latest updates. To help guide you, we’ve devised a list of the top Employment Tribunal cases you should look out for in 2019 and how any of the decisions that are made could...
In 2017 Unison brought a claim against Glasgow City Council on behalf of around 6,000 female workers at Glasgow City Council who were affected by a pay protection scheme set up over a decade ago following a job evaluation scheme. The Council carried out a...
An employee leaving an organisation is a normal part of business, but as employers you should be prepared to deal with an employee who wishes to retract their notice to terminate their contract of employment. It is a common misconception that an...
Hastings, a man of African-Caribbean descent, worked as an IT manager at King’s College Hospital NHS Trust (the Trust)from December 1996. In October 2015, Mr Hastings was dismissed following an incident of racial abuse in the hospital’s car park....
Holding Summer or Christmas parties is a part of most businesses; the opportunity to thank your staff for their hard work during the year, and bringing them together outside of the work environment. What do you do though if someone has too much fun,...
Jordi Casamitjana worked for League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) as a zoologist, specialising in animal behaviour. LACS states that it’s one of the most vegan-friendly employers. When it came to Mr Casamitjana’s attention that pension funds were...
There are two ways that you can ask for flexible working: A statutory request (a request made in writing which can only be made once in any 12-month period). A non-statutory request (a request made if you’re not...
Miss Phillips was employed by Pontcanna at the Cameo Club, from September 2015 to May 2018. On 1 January 2018, at the annual staff Christmas party, Miss Phillips and Mr Webb, a chef at Pontcanna, were involved in an incident which was recorded by CCTV. The...
This case illustrates how, in certain circumstances, an employee may still be able to bring a claim for constructive unfair dismissal where their employer has failed to follow a fair procedure or address all relevant issues at appeal stage.
Under the Equality Act 2010, discrimination arising from a disability occurs where: A treats B unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of B’s disability; and A...
When an employee designs something in the course of their employment, generally the intellectual property rights in that design are owned by the employer. Often employers require their employees to sign an agreement making it clear and unambiguous who holds...
In the case of Davies v Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service, Ms Davies was a court officer, employed for 20 years by the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service (SCTS) with a flawless service record. Ms Davies was going through the menopause, which left her...
Under the National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015 (the NMWR), a worker who is not actually working, but is required to be available for the purpose of doing work, may be treated as working. There are two exceptions to this: Where a...
Much has been reported on the ‘gig economy’ and its effect on employment law. The classification of whether a person is an ‘employee’, ‘self-employed’ or ‘worker’ can have large ramifications for both the...
Ms James brought a claim under the Equal Pay Act 1970 (the Act) for arrears in pay dating back to 2002 when her employment began with Reading Borough Council (the Council). Section 1 of the Act provides that, if a term of a woman’s contract is less...
Ms G was employed by London General Transport Services (LGTS) as a bus driver in late 2013 - a heavily male-dominated industry, with approximately 90% of the 500 drivers being male. Ms G submitted two formal written complaints against other drivers who had...
Mr Smith worked for Pimlico Plumbers for five and a half years, until he suffered a heart attack; the contract was terminated four months later. Following this, Mr Smith brought claims to the Employment Tribunal (ET) for unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal,...
Misconduct is a potentially fair reason for dismissal; in considering whether a dismissal for misconduct was fair, the tribunal will ask whether the employer undertook a fair investigation when they reached the decision to dismiss, and whether the misconduct...
Ms Kaur was employed as a nurse at The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (the Trust). They began disciplinary proceedings against Ms Kaur following an incident with a colleague in April 2013. Ms Kaur was issued with a final written warning in September...
Mr Grosset was a teacher at a school run by the City of York Council. He suffered from cystic fibrosis, which required that he spend up to three hours per day carrying out physical exercise to clear his lungs,a fact the council was aware of.
Canon Pemberton is a Church of England Priest in a same-sex relationship. When the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 came into force it was opposed by the Church of England. Canon Pemberton later became engaged, and informed several bishops of his intent to marry and received feedback stating that marrying his same-sex partner wouldn’t be appropriate. Despite objections from the Church, Canon Pemberton got married in April 2014.
Ms Lopez Ribalda and the four other applicants worked as cashiers at MSA, a Spanish supermarket chain. The manager noticed significant discrepancies between stock levels and what was supposedly being sold in store - in some months as much as €20,000.
Mr Ali was an employee of Telefonica until Telefonica transferred their employees and policies to Capita, and he became an employee of Capita. Female employees who had transferred from Telefonica were entitled to enhanced maternity pay. The maternity policy stated that female employees who had been employed for at least 26 weeks were entitled to 14 weeks’ enhanced maternity pay on full salary, followed by 25 weeks’ statutory maternity pay.
Mr Cockram participated in a Long Term Incentive Plan offered by Air Products. At age 50 Mr Cockram decided to retire, and at this age he was able to have benefits under the defined benefit pension scheme.
The Equality Act 2010 provides protection against discrimination which relates to certain listed characteristics which people may possess, including disability. Section 6 of the Act defines disability as any physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and a long-term adverse effect on a person's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
Ms Brazel was a visiting music teacher at a school run by the Harpur Trust. Employed under a zero hour’s contract, she worked mainly during school term-time, between 32 and 35 weeks a year. The contract provided for her to have 5.6 weeks' annual leave - her statutory entitlement.
In the case of Reilly v Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, Ms Reilly was head teacher at a primary school, and had failed to disclose her close personal relationship with a man (S), who had been convicted of making indecent images of children.
In case of Ville de Nivelles v Matzak, the European Court of Justice considered whether time spent by a firefighter, who was at home on ‘stand-by’, was considered ‘working time’ under the Working Time Directive (WTD).
Mr Carreras was employed by United First Partnership Research (United) from October 2011 to February 2014, where he would typically work 12-13 hour days. In July 2012, Mr Carreras suffered a serious bike accident and had to take several weeks off work. Following his return he continued to suffer from physical symptoms of the accident – dizziness, headaches, fatigue and difficulty in concentrating and working late.
Ms Alexandra De Souza, worked as a Retail Assistant in Primark’s Oxford Street store.
Sometimes education leads to destitution… In Ali v Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago (Petronin) Mr Ali had worked for Petrotrin for 11 years when he was awarded a scholarship to study abroad for a degree. Petrotrin also paid Mr Ali a monthly living allowance in the form of a repayable loan.
Dr Malik worked for Cenkos Securities Plc as a Securities Analyst. He made several disclosures, some of which were found to be protected by the Employment Tribunal (ET).
Ms Bickerstaff was employed by the Royal British Legion as a Case Officer. Issues in the workplace began when another member of staff went on long term sick leave. Ms Bickerstaff was concerned that she would be unable to cope with the increase in workload.
Mr Rawlinson joined Brightside Group Ltd as Group Legal Counsel in December 2014. When Mr Wallin was appointed as CEO of Brightside in January 2015, he expressed concerns with Mr Rawlinson’s performance and started an internal investigation. Mr Rawlinson was aware that senior management had concerns which needed to be addressed, but the details were not shared with him.
Mr Creighton commenced his employment with Together Housing Association Ltd (THA) as an engineering apprentice in 1987. During his employment he was promoted to Lead Gas Engineer in 2014, which involved managing gas engineers.
Mr Schofield, a security officer at Manchester Airport (MAG plc), was diagnosed with four learning difficulties: dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia, classifying him as disabled under the Equality Act 2010.
Ms Pinaud joined British Airways on 24 June 1985 and was promoted to Purser in 1993 where she worked on a full-time basis. In 2005 she returned to work after maternity leave working on a part-time basis. She continued working part-time until she took voluntary redundancy on 30 April 2015.
Ms Pillar was a Nurse Practitioner employed by NHS 24. Her role consisted of taking telephone calls from members of the public and triaging them by asking appropriate questions to determine their medical priority and the appropriate clinical outcome. In December 2013 Ms Pillar directed a patient describing symptoms of a heart attack to an out of hours GP rather than the emergency services. She was dismissed for gross misconduct following a Patient Safety Incident (PSI).
Working in the sales team at BMC Software Ltd since 2004, Ms Shaikh was considered a good worker who performed well, and therefore received various promotions during her employment. Ms Shaikh was awarded two pay rises on “merit” and by July 2013 her basic pay was £60,000.
Mr Osipov became CEO of International Petroleum Ltd (IPL), an oil and gas exploration company doing work in Niger in 2014. Within days of commencing his role as CEO he discovered serious wrongdoings by his predecessor that put the business in a precarious position with the Government of Niger.
Mr Efobi, a black African born in Nigeria, worked as a postman for Royal Mail. He hoped to secure a role in IT and submitted approximately 33 job applications for internal IT roles but was unsuccessful.
Mr Barbulescu, a Romanian national, was employed by a heating company as an engineer in charge of sales. At the request of the company, he was asked to create a Yahoo Messenger account to deal with client enquiries. The company’s policies strictly prohibited any personal use of its IT equipment, including computers and internet access.
An astonishing 126 claimants sought damages against Barclays Bank for sexual assault. The claimants were job applicants and existing employees who were required to undergo medical assessments, most of whom were young women. As part of the bank’s application process, they were required to attend a medical assessment with a doctor nominated by the bank.
In order to prevent unfair competition after employment ends, it is advisable for an employer, where it is possible, to insert a restrictive covenant into the employee’s contract. In the absence of an effective restrictive covenant, an ex-employee may compete with the ex-employer, solicit the former customers of the ex-employer and poach its staff.
Getting good performance from staff requires more than rebukes – it’s where proper procedure is essential. The case of Williams v Meddygfa Rhydback Surgery illustrates how not to do it, especially when a manager is himself the object of many complaints.
A topic that has featured in the news lately is whether suspension amounts to a breach of trust and confidence. This was considered by the High Court in the case of Agoreyo v London Borough of Lambeth where the claimant - a teacher - was suspended as result of the force she used on two children.
In the case of Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust v Akinwunmi, Mr Akinwunmi (‘Mr A’) was a consultant neurosurgeon for the NHS trust. Mr A had poor relationships with a number of fellow surgeons, and had previously complained that he was being bullied - and bought a race discrimination claim to the Employment Tribunal, which was settled.
Sometimes the best laid HR plans can backfire with unfortunate results. What HR professional would ever want to unhouse and impoverish a new mother and baby?
It has been an accepted fact that every employee is under an implied duty of good faith towards their employer. However the case of MPT v Peel has tested this idea in the High Court. The Court had to consider whether employees had to answer honestly when asked by their employer whether they had plans to set up a competing business when leaving the company.
Some cases of redundancy seem cut and dry… but they rarely are. The case of Green v London Borough of Barking and Dagenham illustrates that you can never be too thorough on procedure. Ms Green was employed by London Borough of Barking and Dagenham as a Senior Regeneration Professional. She was one of three employees performing broadly similar roles.
You may well have seen news coverage on the case of Walker v Innospec Ltd and others. This was a landmark case involving a worker and his same-sex partner. The claimant, Mr Walker, retired from Innospec in 2003 after working there for 23 years. In 2006 he asked Innospec whether in the event of his death, they would pay a spouse’s pension to his civil partner.
Social media issues aren’t going away any time soon. Here’s another cautionary tale in the case of Plant v API Microelectronics Ltd.
There has been an abundance of case law on how employers should calculate pay during annual leave and the result in Flower and others v East England Ambulance Trust has added to this. Ambulance staff are often shift workers taking turns to be on duty.
In the case of Ali v Capita Customer Management Ltd, Mr Ali was a former employee of Telefonica. He transferred to Capita when Telefonica transferred all their employees, and Telefonica’s policies also transferred with them.
In Beatt v Croydon Health Services, Mr Beatt was a consultant cardiologist and there were strained relationships between him and some of his colleagues. Whilst performing an invasive operation in 2011, his head nurse, Sister Jones, was suspended and the patient tragically died.
Thousands of claimants in a long running equal pay claim against Glasgow City Council have now welcomed a victory in the Court of Session (the Supreme Civil Court in Scotland).
Good organisational skills don’t stop at your desk. Getting your dismissal procedures in order can tighten up your response to a claim. How it can stretch on into further tribunal time is illustrated in the case of Temitope Adeshina v St George’s University NHS Foundation Trust.
In the case of Government Legal Service v Brookes, Brookes was a prospective trainee solicitor applying for a trainee solicitor role with Government Legal Services. GLS recruited approximately 35 trainee solicitors each year and they received thousands of applications for these roles.
Focus Care Agency v Roberts is the leading case in three appeals which revolved around the question of whether employees who ‘sleep-in’ in order to carry out duties if required engage in ‘time work’ for the duration of the sleep in shift - or if they are working for National Minimum Wage payment purposes only when they are awake.
In the case of Hayward v Noel Chadwick Ltd, Mr Hayward bought a claim of unfair dismissal and breach of contract against his ex-employer, family butchers firm Noel Chadwick Ltd. The respondent had accepted that due process was not followed and consequently the dismissal of Mr Hayward constituted unfair dismissal.
Should use of ‘womanly wiles’ be encouraged in a sales environment? Maybe not, if this week’s case tells us anything.
In the case of Alrajjal v Media 10 Ltd the claimant was part of a sales team. She was encouraged by her line manager, Mr Nicholson, to use her ‘female allures’ to improve her sales performance and was encouraged to wear a low cut top.
In the case of Kuteh v Dartford & Gravesham NHS Trust, the claimant was a committed Christian employed by the Trust as a nurse. In 2012 the claimant was promoted to ‘Sister’ and then in 2015 was transferred to a position which required her to carry out between six and 12 pre-assessment checks on patients due to undergo surgery. A standard checklist was used for these checks and it included a question on the patient’s religion.
In the case of Ssekisonge v Barts Health NHS Trust, the claimant was a nurse who had obtained indefinite leave to remain in the UK by the Home Office on 27 October 2000, and British citizenship on 23 April 2006.
In the case of Dunne v Colin & Avril Ltd the Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal were tasked with applying the two-fold test for suitability and unreasonable refusal of alternative employment disentitling an employee to a redundancy payment.
When is a disability not a disability? And who needs to know? As Gallop v Newport City Council illustrated – it’s not always clear and the confusion can be costly in a tribunal.
An Employment Tribunal has awarded the sum of £25,000 for breach of contract to an employee whose apprenticeship was ended early.
In the case of Kinnear v Marley Eternit Ltd t/a Marley Contract Services, Mr Kinnear was an apprentice roof tiler with Marley Eternit. His contract for this apprenticeship was due to run for a fixed period from October 2014 - November 2018.
In the case of Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust v Haywood, Ms Haywood was employed by Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust. On the 1 April 2011 she was notified as being at risk of redundancy. During a consultation meeting about the redundancy, Ms Haywood informed the Trust she’d be on annual leave between 19 April and 3 May 2011, holidaying in Egypt.
In the case of Kenbata v Westminster City Council, the claimant, who described himself as Black British African, was contracted to work for the respondent, Westminster City Council.
In the case of O’Brien v Bolton St Catherine’s Academy, Ms O’Brien was head of a department at the school. She was attacked by a pupil and although her injuries were not serious, on her return to work she felt unsafe and dissatisfied with the school’s lax approach to dealing with aggressive pupils. Consequently, she later went off work with stress.
Tribunals can be unexciting. Shame, then, that the quite interesting details of Chidzoy v British Broadcasting Corporation have been cruelly snatched away from us by a technicality that the claimant really
should have known about.
The European Court of Justice has recently given judgment on two cases regarding claims of religious discrimination where employees refused to remove their Islamic headscarves.
Does your staff hand book work properly in conjunction with employee’s terms and conditions? If not, you could run into claims. In Department for Transport v Sparks and ors the Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the High Court - that a provision set out in the staff handbook had been incorporated into the contract of employment.
In Pimlico Plumbers Ltd and Mullins v Smith the Court of Appeal has upheld the Employment Appeal Tribunal decision that a plumber was a worker for the purposes of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA 1996).
In Gareddu v London Underground Ltd the EAT upheld a tribunal’s decision that a Roman Catholic was not discriminated against when his employer did not allow him to take five weeks leave to attend religious festivals in Sardinia.