Employment Law Case Update – December 2022
This month the focus is on the details. The EAT considered the circumstances of a disabled employee’s redundancy selection interview, an employee’s claim for damages for asbestosis was increased as a result of the employer not accepting his Part 36 offer, and we delve into the Pensions Ombudsman’s error of law in not considering whether a man who took early ill-health retirement might have otherwise been able to redeploy as a reasonable adjustment and therefore could have suffered financial loss by retiring early.
- Disability Discrimination: Whether requiring a disabled employee to attend a redundancy selection interview could put him at a substantial disadvantage
- Personal Injury: The importance of considering Part 36 offers when considering damages claims
- Pensions: The Pension Ombudsman should have considered redeployment as a reasonable adjustment
- Tribunals: Appeal to EAT must attach the signed judgment, not copy and pasted text
Disability Discrimination: Whether requiring a disabled employee to attend a redundancy selection interview could put him at a substantial disadvantage
In Hilaire v Luton Borough Council  EAT 166, the EAT ruled on the employee’s appeal against the employment tribunal’s decision, rejecting his claims which alleged that his selection for redundancy, without the employer having given adequate consideration to his disability, had amounted to a failure to make reasonable adjustments. The employee, who suffered from depression and arthritis, had been required to attend an interview in a redundancy situation and he had informed the employer that he had been too ill to attend. The employer relied on the fact that the employee had been granted two extensions to the deadline for submission of an application for a role in the new structure, and that he had had been offered an alternative date for his interview. The tribunal concluded that the employer had applied a ‘provision, criterion or practice’ (PCP) of requiring the employee to attend an interview, and that he had not been placed at a substantial disadvantage by that PCP.
The EAT held that the tribunal had erred in its approach to the first aspect of ‘disadvantage’ by engaging in a binary decision concerning whether the employee could have taken part in the interview or not. The relevant matters in considering disadvantage under s.20 of the Equality Act 2010 (the Act) were the effects of the disability which made it more difficult for the disabled employee to meet an expectation of the employer (the PCP). The EAT held that, where the tribunal had found that the employee had had problems with memory and concentration and with social interaction, such problems would, at the least, have hindered effective participation in the interview. Accordingly, the tribunal should then have considered whether the limitation on the ability to participate had been more than minor or trivial.
The EAT further ruled that the second aspect of disadvantage was causation, and that there was evidence supporting the tribunal’s conclusion that the employee would not have taken part in the interview for reasons unconnected with his disability. Therefore, the EAT held that his disability had not prevented him from complying with a PCP and that, on that basis alone, the appeal could not succeed. precover from the effects which would have hindered his participation in an interview, could be considered an adjustment within t7he meaning of the Act, but that, given the significant impairment in the present case, from which recovery would have been protracted, the short delay to the date of the interview which the employer had applied could not be considered an adjustment. However, the EAT ruled that, on the evidence, the tribunal had been entitled to consider that the surrounding circumstances and the impact on other employees had meant that no step, including ‘slotting in’, would have been a reasonable step for the employer to have taken. Accordingly, the appeal was also dismissed on that basis.
Personal Injury: The importance of considering Part 36 offers when considering damages claims
In Brown v G & K Manson Ltd  EWHC 3004 (KB), the King’s Bench Division assessed damages in a claim brought against the claimant’s former employer, in circumstances where the claimant had developed asbestosis following his exposure to asbestos during his employment. Judgment on liability had been entered in earlier proceedings. Among other things, the court accepted the main elements of the submissions made on the claimant’s behalf, subject to a recalculation of the hourly rate for gratuitous care and assistance. The court accepted that the debilitating breathlessness which the claimant had begun to suffer from early 2019 from asbestosis had resulted in his wife undertaking an additional daily hour of assistance, and it took into account, among other things, the claimant’s extra energy costs as a result of the energy price cap increases, bearing in mind that his forced sedentary lifestyle required his domestic heating to be on for longer, so as to keep him warm. The court held that the appropriate total award of damages was £91,438.54, including interest.
However, the court was informed that the claimant had put forward a Part 36 offer of £72,500 in full and final settlement (meaning under Part 36 of the Civil Procedure Rules, whereby one party seeks to settle the claim for a fixed, whole amount, which if not accepted, can have consequences as to the award and costs). Accordingly, the EAT ruled that the consequences of CPR Pt 36.17(4)(d) came into effect, such that the claimant was entitled to an additional amount of £9,143.85, representing 10% of the amount the court had awarded, including interest. The court also awarded interest under Pt 36.17(4)(a).
Pensions: The Pension Ombudsman should have considered redeployment as a reasonable adjustment
In Andrew v Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust  EWHC 2992 (Ch), the Chancery Division allowed in part Mr Andrew’s appeal from a decision of the Pensions Ombudsman which had determined that Mr Andrew’s claim for financial loss had failed on reliance. Mr Andrew was employed by the respondent trust as a specialist orthotic technician. He was a member of two pension schemes (the 1995/2008 scheme and the 2015 scheme). Having developed significant health problems, in August 2017 Mr Andrew had applied for both Tier 1 and Tier 2 ill-health retirement (IHR). It was approved on 28 December 2017 on the basis of Tier 1, but not Tier 2. Mr Andrew’s employment terminated on 18 February 2018. When he was sent the final calculation of his pension entitlement, however, on 29 March 2018, his entitlement under the 1995/2008 scheme and the annual pension did not coincide with the estimate given to him in August 2017.
Mr Andrew complained to the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman had decided that he was given the correct figures. The court held, among other things, that on the basis of the evidence available to the Ombudsman, it had concluded that but for the inaccurate IHR estimate Mr Andrew would have retired at the same time and, as such, had suffered no financial loss. There was an evidential basis for that conclusion in so far as it related to Mr Andrew’s role. In particular, while Mr Andrew might have chosen to remain on sick pay the evidence did not point inexorably towards that conclusion. In addition, the court held that there was no error in the Ombudsman deciding to proceed on the basis of the evidence before him rather than holding an oral hearing.
As to the possibility that Mr Andrew would have sought and been granted redeployment as a reasonable adjustment, the court held that the Ombudsman had not considered and rejected that possibility; rather, the Ombudsman had only considered the fact that it was still open for Mr Andrew to apply for another role. The fact that it could be a reasonable adjustment to redeploy an employee without there being a need for them to go through a competitive recruitment process had been confirmed in Archibald v Fife Council  ICR 954. Failing to consider that possibility amounted to an error of law on the part of the Ombudsman and the case was remitted on that basis.
Tribunals: Appeal to EAT must attach the signed judgment, not copy and pasted text
In Richardson v Extreme Roofing Ltd  EAT 173, the EAT held that an appeal from an employment tribunal judgment to the EAT must attach a copy of the actual signed judgment and written reasons not just text which has been copied and pasted from that judgment and reasons. If an appellant is unable to attach a copy of the written reasons or ET1 claim form or ET3 response to the appeal and instead supplies a written explanation as to why they are not included then that explanation must be genuine and set out why the appellant is unable to produce the necessary documentation.
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Employment Law General Update – October 2022
This month our update covers a new online service to help employers support disabled employees, the CIPD has found gaps in support for employees experiencing pregnancy or baby loss, there’s new draft guidance from the ICO, an update on the future of the four-day week, frustration over the scrapping of the plans to abolish the changes to off-payroll working rules, new guidance on the Professional Qualifications Act 2022, and research into allyships for underrepresented groups.
- Disability: New online service to help employers support disabled employees
- Support & Leave: CIPD report reveals gaps in workplace support for employees experiencing pregnancy or baby loss
- Data Protection: ICO consults on monitoring at work draft guidance
- Working Practices: One third of employers expect a four-day week to be a reality within ten years
- IR35: Frustration from business groups over latest Chancellor’s backtracking over the repeal of the IR35 rules
- Brexit: Government publishes guidance for UK regulators on Professional Qualifications Act 2022
- Discrimination: Research finds intent to be an ally often does not translate into action
Disability: New online service to help employers support disabled employees
On 17 October 2022, the government announced a £6.4 million investment to help employers support employees with disabilities and health conditions. Part of this investment will fund a new online service that will provide information and advice about how to support and manage employees with disabilities or health conditions, whether they are in or out of work. The service will be free and can be accessed by any employer although it is aimed at smaller businesses who may not have in-house HR support or access to occupational health services. It is hoped this service will help small businesses develop more inclusive workforces.
An early test version of the Support with Employee Health and Disability service is currently active and will be updated and developed over the next three years. An online survey is open for businesses and disability groups to offer feedback that will be used to inform the development of the site.
Support & Leave: CIPD report reveals gaps in workplace support for employees experiencing pregnancy or baby loss
A report published by the CIPD has identified gaps in workplace support for employees experiencing pregnancy or baby loss. Only a quarter of employees surveyed received paid compassionate or other special leave in this situation and a fifth of employees received no support at all from their employer. After compassionate leave, the types of support that employees identified as being most helpful were understanding from managers and colleagues that it is a difficult time, paid time off to attend appointments and the option to work from home when needed.
The CIPD has confirmed that it will publish guidance to provide practical advice for employers to improve workplace support for employees experiencing pregnancy and baby loss based on the following five principles:
- Raise awareness, in a thoughtful and sensitive way, about the need for pregnancy or baby loss to be recognised as part of workplace wellbeing.
- Create an open, inclusive and supportive culture to break down stigma and let employees know they will be supported.
- Develop an organisational framework to support employees. This should include implementing specific policies, which the report identified only just over a third of employers have in place.
- Manage absence and leave with compassion and flexibility.
- Equip line managers to support people with empathy and understanding so that they feel comfortable and capable to have sensitive conversations with team members.
Data Protection: ICO consults on monitoring at work draft guidance
On 12 October, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) opened a consultation on draft employment practices and published its draft guidance on monitoring at work. The guidance is open for consultation until 11 January 2023. The ICO is publishing its draft guidance on employment practices in stages with this being the first. It has also published an impact scoping document and plans to publish additional practical tools such as checklists.
The draft guidance covers key topics such as lawful basis for monitoring, transparency, fairness and accountability. It also provides guidance on DPIAs, security and retention as well as specialist topics such as covert monitoring, use of biometric data, call monitoring, dashcams and device activity.
This follows on from the ICO’s call for views in 2021. The ICO has published a summary of the responses to its call for views.
Working Practices: One third of employers expect a four-day week to be a reality within ten years
On 7 October 2022, the CIPD published a new report, The four-day week: Employer perspectives, which sets out employer perspectives on moving to a four-day week. The report is based on a survey which shows that 34% of respondent organisations consider that a four-day week for most workers is attainable within the next decade. One in ten respondents reported having already reduced working hours without cutting pay in the past five years (47% of those respondents confirmed the reductions were part of the COVID-19 furlough scheme). Many of the 2,000 employers surveyed felt that increased efficiency would be needed for a four-day week with no reduction in pay to be sustainable, either through organisations working smarter (66%) or the increased use of technology (68%).
The CIPD notes that the report is published amid rising interest in the concept of the four-day working week. A major trial in the UK, launched earlier this year, involves around 3,330 workers across 70 companies reducing their working week to four days with no loss of pay.
Despite the rising interest in adopting a four-day week, the report found that progress remains slow with just 1% of employers that have not already done so planning to reduce hours without lowering pay in the next three years. For organisations that have reduced working hours, the main drivers are improving employee wellbeing, helping with recruitment and retention, or a reduction in demand for products or services (36%, 30% and 32% of respondents respectively). The main challenges facing these organisations are that reduced hours do not suit everyone (32%), workers cannot achieve the same volume of work or output as before (30%), or a task requires someone to be present (26%).
A separate report, The four-day week: Scottish employer perspectives, has also been published.
IR35: Frustration from business groups over latest Chancellor’s backtracking over the repeal of the IR35 rules
People Management reported on 18 October 2022 that business groups are frustrated by new Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, has taken a u-turn from Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget where he had proposed repealing the IR35 off-payroll tax rules for contractors.
We reported in our September Employment Law General Update that the mini-budget had planned to repeal the 2017 and 2021 reforms from 6 April 2023. It wasn’t going to abolish IR35 but would have taken us back to the rules in place from 2000 (the Intermediaries Legislation), where the onus was on the worker to correctly assess their status and pay the correct amount of tax. However, our new Chancellor has backtracked on this meaning the situation remains the same that the end client remains responsible (and liable) for determining the IR35 status of contractors. The liability and responsibility is on the fee-paying party (often the recruiter) in the supply chain applying to public sector bodies, and medium and large private sector businesses. Small companies are exempt.
Industry experts are frustrated that the promised simplification of the tax rules is not being delivered and that many businesses had already started to undertake the vital work of how their systems would need to change by April 2023. Paul Farrer, founder and chairman of global recruitment agency Aspire, said that in turbulent times like this freelancers and contractors were needed for businesses to navigate peaks and troughs in demand. However, he called the recent IR35 news a “a backward step” – not just for workers, “but for the recruitment industry and businesses that rely heavily on the flexibility and skills of the independent workforce”. Other business leaders complain that this system is complex and poorly enforced, and badly needs proper reform. To read the whole article, see People Management.
Brexit: Government publishes guidance for UK regulators on Professional Qualifications Act 2022
The Professional Qualifications Act 2022 (PQA 2022) received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022, revoking the EU rules relating to the recognition of professional qualifications in the UK.
Among other things, the PQA 2022 introduced a new framework for the recognition of UK professional qualifications between different parts of the UK and overseas. Under this framework, UK regulators have a duty to publish information about the requirements for individuals to enter and remain in their professions (section 8, PQA 2022). In addition, UK regulators must, on request, share information with regulators from other parts of the UK (section 9, PQA 2022) and overseas regulators (section 10, PQA 2022). These obligations apply from 28 October 2022.
On 4 October 2022, BEIS published the following documents to assist UK regulators to comply with these new obligations:
- Guidance on the obligation to publish qualification requirements under section 8 of the PQA 2022, setting out what information must be published, when the obligation applies and when published information should be updated.
- Two separate guidance documents explaining the information-sharing obligations under, respectively, section 9 and section 10 of the PQA 2022. These documents set out when the legal requirements under the relevant section apply and what information must be shared. They also each contain a worked example of what a UK regulator should do when it receives a valid request for information.
Discrimination: Research finds intent to be an ally often does not translate into action
One of the first studies into allyship in the UK workplace (published by Wates on 27 September 2022) has found that intent to support colleagues from underrepresented groups has not translated into action. The study of over 5,000 employees found that 67% of UK employees consider themselves an “ally“. However, only 36% have spoken up against discrimination or exclusion of a colleague from a minority background when they have seen it at work. Around two-fifths of respondents said that they had spent time educating themselves about the experience of minorities, although this figure was lower for senior executives.
The same research found that 40% of employees have experienced microaggressions related to identity. The figure rises to nearly 60% for LGBT employees and to 64% for respondents from Black Caribbean backgrounds. Microaggressions experienced by respondents include a name being mispronounced because it is “too hard” (60% of Black African respondents and 59% of Black Caribbean respondents) and a colleague being told that they “don’t even ‘look’ gay” (42% of men from the LGBT community). Respondents from minorities were more likely to report witnessing microaggressions or discrimination. Microaggressions or discrimination related to sexual orientation was reported by almost half of lesbian, gay and bisexual respondents compared to 25% overall. Microaggressions or discrimination related to race or ethnicity were reported by 35% of respondents, rising to 62% of Black Caribbean respondents and 47% of Pakistani respondents.
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