Latest News

Depressed Supermarket Worker Wins Disability Discrimination Payout

Disability is a broad legal concept and encompasses not just physical incapacity but also mental ill health and all of its consequences. In one case, a supermarket worker whose short temper was a symptom of his depressive illness won more than £6,000...

Workplace Disciplinary Action - Does the Penalty Fit the Offence?

When it comes to workplace disciplinary action, it is vital for employers to ensure that the penalty fits the offence. In one striking case where that certainly did not happen, a bus driver who was unfairly dismissed for shooting a red light after 37 years'...

The Role of Companions at Disciplinary and Grievance Hearings

Under the Employment Relations Act 1999 a worker has the right to be accompanied by a fellow worker or trade union representative at an internal disciplinary or grievance procedure hearing, provided the request is reasonable in the circumstances. A worker...

Social Housing Company Not Guilty of Age Discrimination

In the context of a redundancy process, in which workers competed with one another in order to obtain one of the remaining posts, it was reasonable for the employer to expect each of them to look after their own interests. An Employment Tribunal (ET) so...

Sleeping at Work and the National Minimum Wage

Whether or not a worker who is on call at their employer's premises but who is allowed to sleep when their services are not required is entitled to be paid the National Minimum Wage (NMW) for the entirety of their shift is a highly fact-sensitive area of...

Employment Tribunal Fees - Supreme Court Upholds Unison's Challenge

The Employment Tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal Fees Order 2013 introduced fees for bringing a claim to the Employment Tribunal (ET) and the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT). The stated aims of the Fees Order were to transfer part of the...

Supreme Court ruling that Employment Tribunal fees are unlawful

Employment specialist Jo McKenna warns employers should ensure they pay even closer attention to ensuring that their contracts, policies and HR procedures are compliant with employment law. This morning the government lost its case in the long running...

When Does Notice of Termination Take Effect?

Exactly when notice of termination takes effect can impact on an employee's entitlement to certain benefits or employment rights. In a recent case, the Court of Appeal ruled that, in the absence of an express term in the employee's contract, notice of...

'Good Work' - The Taylor Review

In October 2016, the Prime Minister commissioned Matthew Taylor, a former policy chief to Tony Blair, to look at how employment practices need to change in order to keep pace with modern business needs. The Review, entitled 'Good Work', has now been...

Whistleblowing and the Meaning of 'In the Public Interest'

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 – often referred to as the 'Whistleblowing' Act – inserted provisions into the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA) in order to protect employees from unfair treatment for reasonably raising, in a...

Supreme Court Rules on the Pension Rights of Gay Partners

The Supreme Court has handed down a ruling which means that all married gay couples and civil partners should receive equal pension rights. Under Paragraph 18 of Schedule 9 of the Equality Act 2010 , employers and pension funds are permitted to exclude...

Supreme Court Clarifies Law on Indirect Discrimination

The Supreme Court has now handed down its judgment in an important case, Essop and Others v Home Office (UK Border Agency) , brought by a group of workers who claimed to have suffered indirect race and/or age discrimination. The Court has ruled that in...

Early Conciliation and Second Certificates

For Employment Tribunal (ET) claims lodged on or after 6 May 2014, it is a legal requirement, unless an exemption applies, for the claimant to first notify the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) by completing an Early Conciliation (EC)...

Mother Suffered Discrimination After Part-Time Return From Maternity Leave

The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against or treat a woman unfavourably because of her pregnancy, or because she has given birth recently, is breastfeeding or is on maternity leave. In addition, the Employment Rights Act 1996 and...

Organised Grouping of NHS Carers Embroiled in TUPE Dispute

Whether or not the employment of an organised grouping of workers has been transferred from one employer to another for the purposes of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE) is a matter of critical significance...

Workplace Bans on Religious Symbols and Dress

In ruling on a question concerning the interpretation of EU Directive 2000/78/EC, which establishes a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled that an employer's ban on...

The Apprenticeship Levy

The Apprenticeship Levy came into force on 6 April 2017.  It will facilitate the funding of new apprenticeships across the UK and aid the Government in meeting its 2020 target of three million new apprenticeships. This will have an impact on the...

National minimum wage and sleeping on the job

It is often difficult to determine when an employee/worker who “sleeps in” when carrying out their duties, are “working” for the purposes of being paid the National Minimum Wage (NMW). Are they only entitled to be paid for the time...

Commencing early conciliation before the effective date of termination

Before a claimant can make a claim in the Tribunal, they must comply with the statutory duty to contact ACAS and engage in Early Conciliation (EC). When it ends, ACAS sends an EC Certificate and the claimant can issue a claim form. To ensure claimants are...

Due diligence under TUPE

Those who intend to buy a business, or who are bidding for a contract to provided services from a competitor (a service provision change), must undertake due diligence before completion of the transfer! When buying a business, the buyer will normally...

Unfair Dismissal - 'Lifetime Loss' Cases

When an employee succeeds in a claim for unfair dismissal, the compensation awarded by the Employment Tribunal (ET) will take into account any future loss of earnings. In the majority of cases, this will cover the period up until the time when the employee...

Court of Appeal Rejects Pimlico Plumbers' Appeal in Employment Status Case

There have been a number of recent cases looking at the precise nature of the employment status of those working for employers who like their operatives to appear to clients as their representatives but who operate a model of self-employment. In Aslam and...

Type 2 Diabetes and the Definition of Disability

Whilst people suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis or HIV are automatically deemed to be disabled for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010 , in the case of other illnesses, whether or not a worker is disabled will depend on whether or not their...

Gender Pay Gap Reporting

In spite of the Equal Pay Act 1970 , which prohibited less favourable treatment between men and women in terms of pay and conditions, and subsequent equality laws, there is still a significant gap between the pay of men and women in the UK. To try to...

Gender pay gap reporting - what do you need to do?

Laws have come into force today that will require all employers, with 250 or more employees, to publish their gender pay gap. From today, large private and voluntary sector employers will need to be prepared to publish a gender pay gap report each April,...

Re-Engagement of Unfairly Dismissed Workers - EAT Gives Guidance

An Employment Tribunal (ET) has the power to direct reinstatement of a worker who has been unfairly dismissed or their re-engagement in another appropriate role. However, as one case involving a veteran nurse illustrates, the practicability of such orders...

Employment tribunal judgments now available online

The Ministry of Justice has launched a website where all Employment Tribunal judgments can be accessed.  Judgments from as far back as 2015 have been uploaded and from now on, all judgments will be available online. The website was created following...

Self employed or worker - the risks for the employer

Businesses sometimes choose to take on people who, ostensibly, are classed as “self-employed” or “independent contractors” or “sub-contractors”.  Two recent high profile cases demonstrate the risks, even when the...

EAT Criticises Perfunctory Treatment of Sacked Property Manager

In a recent case ( Thomas v BNP Paribas Real Estate Advisory and Property Management UK Limited ), a senior property management company employee who was made redundant in an insensitive and perfunctory manner after more than 40 years' service had his...

Sacked Maritime Armed Guard Has Compensation Hopes Boosted

Where there is a complaint of misconduct, an employer will not normally be judged to have acted reasonably unless a full and fair investigation into the circumstances is carried out, giving the employee the chance to speak in his or her defence. Where an...

New Minimum Wage Rates

The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in his Autumn Statement that the following changes to the National Living Wage (NLW) and the National Minimum Wage (NMW) will come into effect on 1 April 2017: The NLW for those aged 25 and over will increase...

Terms of settlement agreements must be drafted tightly

Claims against an employer can be costly – in both time and financial terms.  All the more important, therefore, to make sure settlement agreements are well worded. When a claim is made, the employer has an option to settle the matter through...

Disability Discrimination - A Question of Cause and Effect

Findings of disability discrimination require proof not only of unfavourable treatment but also of a causal connection between that treatment and a person's disability. That point was thrown into relief in the case of a PE teacher who was dismissed after...

A bus driver's dilemma - disability discrimination

All of us who travel on public transport have seen seats and spaces allocated for disabled users. But what does that actually mean? What happened? In a recent case, a disabled person in a wheelchair wished to board a bus but the wheelchair space was...

Government Review of Employment Tribunal Fees

The Ministry of Justice has published its long-awaited review of Employment Tribunal (ET) fees, which were introduced in July 2013. This concluded that the objectives for the introduction of fees – i.e. transferring a proportion of the cost from the...

Dismissal When Final Written Warning 'Manifestly Inappropriate'

Workplace disciplinary processes often have a number of distinct phases, and legal errors in any one of them can be enough to infect the whole. That point was made in the case of a BBC producer who was dismissed after being issued with a manifestly...

Can you rely on expired warnings when deciding to dismiss an employee?

A recent case illustrates how careful employers must be when dismissing employees, even those with extremely poor disciplinary records! The case in question involved Mr P who had a long history of poor performance and disciplinary issues.  He had been...

Whistleblowing Bus Driver Was Unfairly Dismissed

A worker who 'blows the whistle' on wrongdoing in the workplace can claim unfair dismissal if he or she is dismissed for doing so. A worker's dismissal (or selection for redundancy) is automatically considered to be unfair if it is wholly or mainly on...

Top 7 employment cases in 2017

During 2016 the Employment Tribunal heard a number of cases regarding employment status. For example, in the Uber case the Tribunal decided that the individuals in question were ‘workers’. It is likely that this decision will be appealed. ...

Employers Must Be Proactive to Ensure Workers Get Proper Breaks

Except in certain circumstances, an adult worker whose daily working time is more than six hours is entitled to a 20-minute uninterrupted rest break as laid down by Regulation 12(1) of the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR). In an important test case...

A new way to protect that sensitive information

When employees, directors, partners or shareholders leave a business there is often a worry that they will try to take their clients with them.  Often restrictive covenants will be in place to try to prevent this. However, they are not always...

Directors' disqualifications

The law is strict on misconduct relating to directors. Kevin Sullivan explains recent changes to legislation and how directors need to be clear on the circumstances that might lead to an allegation of misconduct should their company fail. What is...

Diabetic Salesman Put Under Too Much Pressure to Meet Targets

A diabetic telephone salesman who was put under intense pressure to meet targets – and was eventually sacked for failing to do so – has won the right to substantial compensation for unfair dismissal and his employer's failure to make reasonable...

Punch up at the Christmas party

With Christmas only days away, many employers will have invited their employees to the work's party.  A recent High Court case illustrates what can happen in situations such as these, when some staff consume large quantities of alcohol. In the case...

Shared Parental Pay - Father Wins Sex Discrimination Claim

The introduction of the Shared Parental Leave Regulations 2014 has given eligible parents more flexibility as to how leave can be taken after the birth or adoption of a child. Shared parental leave (SPL) enables mothers to share up to 50 weeks' maternity...

The Office Christmas Party

Having a Christmas party can be a brilliant way to thank your staff for all their hard work during the year, and to give the whole team the chance to socialise together and enjoy each other's company. As with any work event, however, there are possible...

Disability - Protection of Pay Can Be a Reasonable Adjustment

In G4S Cash Solutions (UK) Limited v Powell , the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) considered whether an employer's duty to make reasonable adjustments where a provision, criterion or practice places a disabled employee at a substantial disadvantage...

Judical assessment of tribunal cases

Last month, the employment tribunal introduced a process of judicial assessment. The aim of judicial assessment is to help in the settlement of employment tribunal litigation. It is a process whereby an employment judge will make an initial assessment...

TUPE - No Service Provision Change to Commercial Bus Company

In a recent case ( CT Plus (Yorkshire) CIC v Black and Others ), the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) provided important guidance on the operation of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE) with regard to the service...

Zero hours contracts back in the spotlight

In October 2015, Tim Ogle, published an article about developments in the law relating to zero hour contracts. In that article, he also reported on the news of 300 staff on zero hour contracts (ZHC) at Sports Direct being less than happy about being...

Indirect Sex Discrimination and the Employer's Legitimate Business Aims

Under Section 19 of the Equality Act 2010 , a female employee will succeed in a claim of indirect sex discrimination if she can show that her employer has applied a workplace provision, criterion or practice (PCP) that puts women at a particular...

EAT Decision Reinforces Agency Workers' Rights

In a guideline decision, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has reinforced the rights of agency workers for the purposes of the protected disclosure ('whistleblowing') provisions of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA), underlining that it is legally...

Uber Drivers Win First Round of Employment Rights Battle

In a ground-breaking decision, the Employment Tribunal (ET) has ruled that Uber drivers are workers, rather than being self-employed, and thus have the right to be paid the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage where applicable) and to receive...

Fake sick notes

The Medical Defence Union has warned that there are various websites offering advice on how to forge a sick note or that allow a person to buy a replica NHS sick note. It also warns that it has become easier to forge doctors’ signatures with editing...

Dismissal must be clear and unequivocal

In most cases the termination of employment is clear and unambiguous. But when a dispute arises and a case is taken to the employment tribunal, the tribunal will require evidence  that the employer dismissed. In a recent case, Miss K was an agency...

The Use of E-cigarettes in the Workplace

Legislation under the Health Act 2006 that prohibits smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces, on public transport and in vehicles used for work does not cover the use of e-cigarettes. The devices do not burn tobacco or create smoke but work by...

Court of Appeal Rules on Holiday Pay and Unearned Commission

The Court of Appeal has handed down its ruling in Lock v British Gas Trading Limited and Others , concluding that the Employment Tribunal (ET) was correct in its finding that the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR) can be interpreted so as to conform...

Pregnancy Discrimination Care Assistant Wins Right to Compensation

A nursing home care assistant who was paid less than she was contractually entitled to – and was discriminated against by her employer after she became pregnant – has won the right to substantial compensation after the Employment Appeal Tribunal...

Trade Mark Rip-Offs - Landlords Beware!

It is well known that counterfeit copies of leading brands are fairly commonplace, especially in online shops. Many will also know that Internet service providers can be required to deny access to websites which are found to be dealing in 'knock-off'...

Essex law firm behind major care homes deal

Essex law firm Birkett Long has been praised by client Runwood Homes after its specialist healthcare team advised on a deal that saw the Benfleet-based organisation buy three care homes in Northern Ireland, making national news there. Runwood Homes...

Michael Jackson Impersonator's Move Sparks Employment Dispute

In an unusual case, which shows how important it is to act quickly if an employee breaches his or her contract of employment, a Blackpool stage company paid a heavy price for its delay in taking legal action against a Michael Jackson impersonator who left to...

Law firm Birkett Long reconfirms its lofty position in Essex

Birkett Long remains as one of the “standout” names of legal firms in the Essex region, says the respected Legal 500 national directory. The firm, which has offices in Chelmsford, Colchester and Basildon, has a team of around 190 people and...

Sacked University Professor Wins Right to Compensation

Just because an employee is partially to blame for his or her own dismissal does not make it fair. In one case that made that point, a university professor won the right to compensation after a personality clash with his boss led to the loss of his job ( ...

Court Rules Restrictive Covenants Are Enforceable

In the recent case of Bartholomews Agri Food Limited v Thornton , the High Court found that a restrictive covenant included in the contract of employment of an agronomist from the time he began working for his employer as a trainee was manifestly...

Wearing a Hijab

On 31 May 2016 Advocate General Kokott gave an opinion in Achbita –v- G4S Secure that a Belgium company’s dress code, banning employers from wearing any visible religious, political or philosophical symbols in the workplace (thus preventing a...

Mind the gap

On 1 October this year, gender pay gap reporting is expected to come into force.  Employers with 250 staff or more from the 30 April 2017 will be required to annually publish their gender pay gap on their searchable UK websites, for both employees and...

Employment tribunal exclusion clauses

It has been reported in the press that Deliveroo, which engages cyclists on a “self-employed” basis to deliver food, has included a clause in its contract with couriers where the courier agrees not to make any claims in the Employment Tribunal or...

Unlawfully Dismissed Football Manager Wins Compensation

Constructive dismissal occurs when an employee resigns and can demonstrate that he or she is entitled to do so because the employer shows by their conduct that they no longer intend to be bound by the essential terms of the employee's employment contract....

Immigration status and discrimination

It may be surprising to learn that mistreatment on the grounds of immigration status is not, as far as the courts are concerned, discrimination. The Supreme Court recently had to decide whether the harsh mistreatment of foreign nationals amounted to race...

Ban of Islamic headscarf was not discrimination

Ms A was employed by G4S in Belgium.  She started working as a receptionist in 2003.  G4S said that employees were not allowed to wear any religious, political or philosophical symbols whilst on duty.   Initially this was an unwritten rule...

LLPs and Whistleblowing - EAT Gives Guidance

Members of limited liability partnerships (LLPs) are not 'employees', but they are 'workers' and are thus entitled to all the legal protections afforded by the whistleblowing provisions of the Employment Rights Act 1996 . That point was made in the case of...

Employer's Refusal to Extend PHI Not Age Discrimination

In a case which emphasises the importance of clarity of language when providing information on employees' contractual entitlement to Permanent Health Insurance (PHI) benefits, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has upheld the decision of an Employment...

staff should not panic over EU vote outcome

With the dust settling following the EU referendum vote an employment law expert with Essex law firm Birkett Long says employees have no need to panic as the legislative system moves so slowly.   Martin Hopkins, who works in the firm’s Basildon...

Company Acts to Prevent Former Employees Taking Its Business

If you suspect a current or former employee of disloyalty, the law can move extremely quickly to help you. In one case ( M&E Global (Staffing) Solutions Limited and Another v Tudge and Others ), a company won a High Court injunction within days of...

Dismissal of Employee 'Pulling a Sickie' Was Fair, Rules EAT

A recent decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has emphasised that dishonesty over sickness absence can amount to gross misconduct and give grounds for dismissal ( Metroline West Limited v Ajaj ). Mr Ajaj was employed by Metroline West Limited...