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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...

No annual return, you must confirm!

From 30th June 2016 the Small Business Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 requires companies to ‘check and confirm’ the information held by Companies House and provide notification of any changes in a ‘confirmation statement’. Of...

Enterprise Act 2016

The 4th of May 2016 saw the Royal Assent of what is now the Enterprise Act 2016 (the “Act”). The Act covers a wide range of topics, which the government intends will help secure the economic growth of the UK. In so doing, the Act includes the...

The Importance of Conducting a Fair Disciplinary Process

A local authority employee who complained that his job description did not match his duties and that he was substantially underpaid for the work he in fact did has had his hopes of compensation for alleged unfair dismissal boosted by a tribunal ruling ( ...

UEFA European Championship 2016 - Are You Ready?

With the UEFA European Championship due to kick off shortly (the first match, France v Romania, is on Friday, 10 June at 20:00 UK time and the final is scheduled for Sunday, 10 July), employers who have not already done so should ensure they have policies in...

Low Pay Commission Seeks Views on Wage Rates

The Low Pay Commission (LPC) is seeking views on the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW) rates that should apply from April 2017. Whereas the NMW rates have traditionally been set on the basis of 'helping as many low-paid workers as...

Psychoactive Substances and Your Workplace Drug Policy

The Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 , which received Royal Assent on 28 January 2016, came into force on 26 May 2016. The Act makes it an offence to produce, supply, offer to supply, import or export any psychoactive substance if it is likely to be...

Challenging Decisions of Professional Discipline Bodies

The conduct of professional persons, such as doctors, dentists, nurses, midwives, counsellors, accountants and lawyers, is regulated by their professional association or society. When a complaint is made against a professional the association will carry...

Mental Health Nurse Wins Unfair Dismissal Claim

In a case which underlines the high standards expected of employers when investigating alleged misconduct, a mental health nurse who was accused of assaulting a patient and sacked from his post has succeeded in his claim of unfair dismissal ( Pennine Care...

The Taxation of Termination Payments - Injury to Feelings

The Upper Tribunal (UT) has ruled that a compensation payment for injury to feelings made on the termination of employment is subject to tax under Section 401 of the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003 (ITEPA) ( Moorthy v The Commissioners for HM...

Government Consults on Tips

Following a call for evidence last autumn on the operation of tips, gratuities, cover and service charges, the Government has published a consultation paper reflecting the evidence it received from consumer, worker and employer groups, and setting out its...

Asked about a Colleague's Competence? Be Careful What You Say

Off-the-cuff and ill-considered remarks about work colleagues can have serious consequences for their careers. In one case which strikingly made the point that you should be careful what you say, a hospital consultant's brief telephone conversation became...

TUPE and the Temporary Cessation of Work

In a complex case ( Mustafa and Another v Trek Highways Services Limited and Others ), the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has ruled that the Employment Tribunal (ET) erred in law in finding that a temporary cessation of work activities by a subcontractor...

Employment Law Changes - April 2016

Changes to employment law and practice are normally implemented in either April or October each year in order to make life easier for employers, who must ensure that their policies and procedures are updated accordingly. The main employment law changes...

Employment Tribunals - The Use of Interpreters

Under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), everyone has the right to a fair trial and one of the elements of this concept, referred to as 'the principle of equality of arms', is that each party should have the right to present their...

Increased Protection for Workers on Zero Hours Contracts

In May 2015, the Government acted to ban exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts by way of the first commencement order made under the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 . Specifically, Section 153 of the Act inserted a new Section 27A...

Acas Early Conciliation - Amendments to ET Claims

In recent years, the settlement of disputes of various kinds by voluntary dispute resolution has grown considerably in the UK. That is certainly so in employment cases where, since May 2014, it has been a requirement under the Employment Tribunals Act 1996...

EAT Rules on Holiday Pay and Unearned Commission

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has handed down its judgment in Lock v British Gas Trading Limited and Others , upholding the decision of the Employment Tribunal (ET) that domestic legislation can be interpreted so as to conform with EU law in respect...

TUPE Service Provision Changes - Short-Term Arrangements

Under Regulation 3(3)(a)(ii) of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE), TUPE does not apply where immediately before a service provision change the client intends that the activities will, following the service...

Calculation of Holiday Pay When Workers Change Their Hours

In Greenfield v The Care Bureau Limited , the Employment Tribunal (ET) requested a preliminary ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on the following points: In circumstances where an employee increases the hours they work,...

Employment Tribunal Fell into Substitution Trap

In an unfair dismissal claim, the task of the Employment Tribunal (ET) is to find why and how the employer took the decision to dismiss and to review whether or not it was reasonable to take the decision for those reasons and in that way. The ET is not...

Instruction not to speak Polish not race discrimination

Direct race discrimination occurs where, because of race, a person treats another person less favourably than they would treat others. An employee claiming race discrimination therefore needs to demonstrate less favourable treatment when compared to a real...

The dangers of giving verbal references

When employers are asked for references most want to be open and honest, but a recent case shows the dangers of providing a negative reference for an ex employee. In this case Miss K had been employed by Coventry Council.  She had had two operations,...

Acas Guidance on Carrying Out Investigations in the Workplace

When a problem arises in the workplace that cannot be resolved informally or quickly, it is important that the matter is dealt with fairly and in accordance with the employer's disciplinary and grievance procedures where appropriate. Essential to this is...

Disabled Employee Pays Price for Refusal to Work

An employee who is mistreated by their employer has every right to complain. However, an employee who digs in their heels may pay a high price for their actions, as was illustrated by a case concerning a disabled man who simply downed tools and refused to...

On-Call Workers 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 his or her services are not required is entitled to be paid the National Minimum Wage (NMW) for the entirety of their shift is a particularly fact-sensitive...

Requirement to attend competitive job interview was discriminatory

The Equality Act 2010 says that a person discriminates against a disabled person if they treat them unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of his or her disability, and they are unable to show that that treatment is a proportionate means...

Mother Dismissed for Absenteeism Wins Tribunal Claims

A call-centre worker who was dismissed for gross misconduct after she was absent from work when her baby daughter was in hospital has won her claims of sex discrimination and unfair dismissal ( Van Heeswyk v One Call Insurance Services Limited ). Annie Van...

The National Living Wage

As we look towards the introduction of the National Living Wage in April 2016, many employers are concerned that the additional costs it will incur will have a detrimental effect on their business.  Some employers are even asking if it would be possible...

Your Christmas Party

Christmas parties are a great opportunity for staff to relax and socialise together ahead of the festive season, as well as a chance to show you appreciate their hard work over the year. As it is a work event, however, employers do need to be mindful of the...

Music Teacher Strikes Blow for Fixed-Term Contract Workers

A music teacher who ended up on a zero hours contract after his employment was transferred from a local authority to the private sector has scored a legal victory of importance to all fixed-term contract workers ( Services for Education [S4E Limited] v...