- Withholding Wages: Employer cannot rely on Home Office negative right to work check notice
- Redundancy: Trial period and dismissal
- Privacy: Does covert monitoring of employees suspected of theft amount to a breach of privacy?
- Contracts: Is £500+VAT enough for an employee to take full advice on a settlement agreement?
- Whistleblowing: Public interest test is subjective so claimant must be given opportunity to give evidence
- Data Protection: ICO publishes new detailed guidance for Data Protection Officers
- Gender Balance: Hampton-Alexander Review’s fourth annual report published
- Workplace Diversity: ONS figures reveal number of mothers in the workforce reaches a record 75%
- Mental Health: Nuffield publishes whitepaper on effects of remote working on stress, wellbeing and productivity
- National Minimum Wage: Rates for April 2020 delayed by general election
- Tribunals & Courts: Closures over Christmas and New Year 2019
Withholding Wages: Employer cannot rely on Home Office negative right to work check notice
In a decision that will make every employer roll their eyes, the EAT has recently decided that receiving a negative verification notice from the Home Office in response to an Employer Checking Service (ECS) right to work check request was not sufficient to allow an employer to withhold pay from an employee.
In the case of Badara v Pulse Healthcare Limited UKEAT/0210/18 the employer held an honest but mistaken belief that a non-EEA national (Nigerian) had to provide documentary evidence of their right to work, and this was a clause written into their contracts. Mr Badara was, in fact, entitled to an automatic right to work as a result of being a family member of an EEA national – the strict legal position irrespective of documentary evidence. Given this, when the employer requested an ECS from the Home Office, it should have provided a positive result, but for some reason came back negative. The employer therefore refused to provide Mr Badara with work and wages for fear of breaching the Immigration Asylum and Nationality Act 2006. The tribunal concluded that it was not unreasonable in the circumstances for the employer to rely on the ECS checks. However, the EAT disagreed because had the tribunal applied the ‘Additional Information’ section of the Right to Work guidance from the Home Office and the appropriate case law (Okuoimose v City Facilities Management Ltd UK EAT 2011) then it would have followed that the right to work would have been established, although the guidance states that a statutory excuse might not be established. The act of dismissal was prima facie indirectly discriminatory. The tribunal’s decision that the dismissal was justified could not stand and the employee’s claims for unlawful deduction from wages and indirect race discrimination were remitted to the tribunal for reconsideration.
A note for employers: despite the threat of the penalty provisions in the Immigration Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, Home Office guidance (and case law) states that an ECS check is not always enough to determine eligibility to work. If in any doubt, read all the guidance and seek professional advice.
Redundancy: Trial period and dismissal
In a redundancy situation, s.138 of the Employment Rights Act states that an employee is entitled to an automatic four week ‘statutory’ trial period in an alternative position if they have been dismissed as a result of redundancy, they accept an alternative role before the old one comes to an end, the new contract begins either immediately after the old role, or within 4 calendar weeks of the end of the old role, and the terms of the new contract differ from the original contract. This means that if there is no dismissal (or notice of dismissal) from the old role, then there can have been no statutory trial period.
In the case of East London NHS Foundation Trust v O’Connor  UKEAT 0113_19_2910, Mr O’Connor was told in March 2017 that due to a reorganisation, his role of Psycho-Social Intervention Worker was going to be ‘deleted’ with effect from 3 July 2017, putting him at risk of redundancy. He was offered an alternative role on a trial basis as Care Coordinator, starting from 3 July 2017. There was a disagreement as to whether this was suitable alternative employment, following which Mr O’Connor pursued a grievance. When that proved unsuccessful, the employer re-offered him the Care Coordinator position, which he declined. Mr O’Connor was dismissed in December 2017.
Mr O’Connor claimed he was owed a redundancy payment but the employer refused. It argued that the statutory trial period had ended on 9 August 2017 and the Care Coordinator role was a suitable alternative employment which Mr O’Connor had unreasonably refused. Thus, he was not entitled to a redundancy payment.
The EAT upheld the tribunal’s finding that Mr O’Connor had not actually been dismissed in July, and that the deletion of his role did not, in fact, amount to notice of dismissal – there being no rule of law which said so. The tribunal found that it was a matter of considering all the facts and circumstances to establish what happened. In this case, the evidence pointed to Mr O’Connor having started a trial in July without having been dismissed, which happened in December. The result was that this matter was remitted to the tribunal to consider the question of whether it was in fact dismissal by way of redundancy and therefore what payment may be due.
Privacy: Does covert monitoring of employees suspected of theft amount to a breach of privacy?
The European Court of Human Rights recently handed down its decision in López Ribalda and others v Spain. The matter concerned a supermarket where the manager noticed some inconsistencies between the stock level and the sales figures, running into thousands of Euros over a number of months. The manager launched an internal investigation and installed CCTV cameras, some visible and other hidden. The visible cameras were directed towards the entrances and exits of the supermarket. The hidden cameras were placed at a certain height and directed towards the checkout counters. The employees were told that the manager suspected theft and about the installation of the visible cameras, but not the hidden ones. Prior to this, the company had notified the Spanish Data Protection Agency that it intended to install CCTV cameras in its shops. The Agency had pointed out the obligations to provide information under the legislation on personal data protection. A sign indicating the presence of CCTV cameras had been installed in the shop where the applicants worked.
The CCTV did indeed show how the thefts were being carried out, which tallied with the stock reports and till receipts. The management informed the employees’ union representative that the footage recorded by the hidden cameras had revealed thefts of goods at the tills by a number of employees. Fourteen employees were dismissed with immediate effect, including the five applicants, of whom three signed settlement agreements in which it was agreed no criminal proceedings would be brought against them and other employment claims would be waived by both sides. Only the manager and the union representative watched the CCTV footage.
The five applicants then brought unfair dismissal claims against the supermarket. The applicants objected to the use of the covert video-surveillance, arguing that it had breached their Article 8 right to protection of their privacy. They thus requested that any recordings obtained by such means should not be admitted in evidence in the proceedings. The employer opposed the proceedings brought by the 3 employees who had signed settlement agreements but those applicants sought the annulment of the agreements, arguing that they had signed them under the threat of criminal proceedings and that their consent had been vitiated by duress and by the deceitful manipulation of the employer with the complicity of the union representative.
The Spanish employment tribunal found that any employer was entitled to use monitoring and surveillance measures to verify that employees were fulfilling their employment duties, provided those measures were compatible with their “human dignity” and thus respected their fundamental rights – an employer’s right to adopt monitoring measures in the exercise of its management power and for the purpose of ensuring the smooth running of the company was limited by the respect due to the employees’ right to their privacy and to the protection of their image. Courts are supposed to strike a balance between the various interests of constitutional value by applying a proportionality test to the employer’s measures. In this case, it had found that the covert CCTV had been proportionate and had not breached the employee’s fundamental right to privacy guaranteed by Article 18 of the Spanish Constitution. In the tribunal’s view, the applicants’ conduct amounted to a breach of the principle of good faith and entailed the employer’s loss of trust, thus rendering their dismissals lawful. Further, there had been no evidence of coercion or manipulation by the employer regarding the settlement agreements.
The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights held by a majority of 14 to 3 upheld the decisions of the lower courts that a fair balance had been struck and the intrusion was proportionate because the employer had legitimate reasons. No violation of the Article 8 right to respect for private and family life had occurred. Not being informed in advance that they would be recorded did not violate the employees’ Article 8 right to private life. The Court held that employees should have a limited expectation of privacy at work on a supermarket floor (a public area) and found that the employer had taken steps to confine the circulation of the recordings to a very limited number of people. The surveillance was limited to ten days, had stopped once the responsible employees had been identified, and the recordings were targeted at a small group of individuals.
The three dissenting judges, however, were concerned by the
growing influence and control that technology has in our world, and more particularly, the collection and use of our personal data in our everyday activities. As a living instrument, the Convention, and therefore the Court, not only needs to recognise the influence of modern technologies, but also has to develop more adequate legal safeguards to secure respect for the private life of individuals.
Contracts: Is £500+VAT enough for an employee to take full advice on a settlement agreement?
It is often the case that when it comes to an employer offering an employee a settlement agreement, they agree to pay the costs of that employee taking advice. A common fee is £500+VAT. In order for the agreement to be fair, the employee needs to be given the opportunity to discuss the effect of signing a settlement agreement which in effect means they waive all rights to pursuing any claims against the employer in future.
In the case of Solomon v University of Hertfordshire  UKEAT 0258_18_2910, one of the EAT judges made an obiter comment at the end of the judgment, basically saying that £500+VAT was not enough for an employee to take full advice on settling their claim:
… We think it clear that the advice which the Claimant could expect to receive for this sum (or any sum remotely like it) would only relate to the terms and effect of the proposed settlement and its effect on her ability to pursue her rights thereafter (see section 203(3) of the Employment Rights Act 1996). Any advice as to the merits of the Claimant’s claim and the likely award of compensation would require reading and consideration on a quite different scale. So even if the Claimant had sought advice, she would still have had to make her own lay assessment as to the merits of her claim and the likely award of compensation. The ET said, in paragraph 10 of its reasons, that the offer of £500 plus VAT was for a solicitor “to advise on the merits of a settlement”. If so, the offer was wholly unrealistic.
This may be something to bear in mind when considering settlement agreements, given the amount of the settlement and the potential claims that may be involved. This case concerned a figure of £50,000 regarding claims of unlawful discrimination, victimisation and sexual harassment.
Whistleblowing: Public interest test is subjective so claimant must be given opportunity to give evidence
In 2017, the case of Chesterton Global Ltd (t/a Chestertons) v Nurmohamed  EWCA Civ 979, set out a two -stage test for determining the question of what is in the “public interest” for whistleblowing claims (i.e. to enable the disclosure to be a qualifying disclosure within s.43B(1) of the Employment Rights Act 1996, making it a “protected disclosure”). The test states that (1) the claimant must believe, at the time of making a disclosure, that it is in the public interest, and (2) that belief must be reasonable. This is a subjective belief, about which that person must be asked directly at tribunal so that they can be cross-examined. It is up to the tribunal to consider the evidence and make findings as to subjective belief and the reasonableness of that belief.
In the recent case of Ibrahim v HCA International Ltd  EWCA Civ 2007, Mr Ibrahim was an interpreter at a hospital. He asked his employer to investigate rumours that he had breached patient confidentiality, as he wanted to clear his name and reputation. The hospital investigated his complaint but his complaint was rejected and he was later dismissed. He brought several claims to the tribunal, among which was that he had suffered a detriment following making a protected disclosure. The tribunal dismissed his whistleblowing claim on several grounds, one of which was that he had not made it in the public interest but to clear his own name. The EAT agreed, finding that Mr Ibrahim had held no subjective belief in the public interest. Additionally, the judge confirmed that breach of a legal obligation under section 43B(1)(b) of the ERA 1996 can be broad enough to include tortious duties such as defamation and those statutory duties contained in the Defamation Act 2013. It was immaterial that Mr Ibrahim had not used the word ‘defamation’ himself.
Mr Ibrahim took the matter to the Court of Appeal. The Chesterton two-stage test had been handed down after the tribunal hearing but before the judgment, and so Mr Ibrahim claimed the tribunal had not applied the test correctly. The Court of Appeal found that the tribunal erred in that it should have specifically asked him about his subjective belief, although in this case, it was probably down to the timing of the case. In addition, a further onus was on the tribunal to ensure he explained his case as he was unrepresented. The decision in Chesterton made clear that motive and genuine belief in public interest are not the same thing. Mr Ibrahim had not said anything about public interest, which hampered his case, but did not dispose of the point. His appeal was therefore allowed and the case remitted back to the same tribunal to hear evidence from Mr Ibrahim and for consideration of this point.
Data Protection: ICO publishes new detailed guidance for Data Protection Officers
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has recently published a new set of detailed guidance on ‘Special Category Data’. This guidance is targeted at:
- those people for whom the existing Guide does not provide the answers you are looking for; or
- those needing a deeper understanding of the conditions for processing special category data to help you comply in practice;
- Data Protection Officers; and
- those with specific data protection responsibilities in larger organisations.
Special Category Data is a collection of types of personal data which are likely to be more sensitive, and which are therefore entitled to receive extra protection, for example: personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs; health, sexual orientation, etc.
This guidance contains practical examples of special category data and its processing requirements and is arranged in four sections:
- What is special category data?
- What are the rules on special category data?
- What are the conditions for processing?
- What are the substantial public interest conditions?
It goes into detail regarding the general prohibition on processing special category and the ten exceptions to the prohibition referred to as the conditions for processing special category. The guidance emphasises the importance of identifying special category data and approaching it carefully. If your purpose is not covered by any of the processing conditions and you cannot obtain valid explicit consent, you cannot process the special category data.
Gender Balance: Hampton-Alexander Review’s fourth annual report published
On 13 November 2019 the Hampton-Alexander Review announced it has published it fourth Annual Report on improving gender balance in FTSE leadership. The original report was published in 2016 and set a target of getting a minimum of 33% women’s representation on the boards and on the leadership teams (meaning those who either sit on a company’s executive committee or directly report to members of that committee) of FTSE 350 companies by the end of 2020. According to this year’s annual report, this has been the strongest year of progress since targets were first set:
- FTSE 100 on track to reach the 33% target for women on boards ahead of the 2020 deadline.
- FTSE 250 made strong gains during the year and with sustained effort, will also meet the 2020 deadline.
- Women now hold 32.4% of FTSE 100 board positions (up from 30.2% in 2018), but 51 FTSE 100 companies have not yet achieved the 33% target.
- Women now hold 29.6% of FTSE 250 board positions (up from 24.9%), but 139 FTSE 250 companies have not yet achieved the 33% target.
- The FTSE 350 still has 2 all-male boards (5 in 2018) and 39 companies that have only one woman on the board, 28 of which have had only one woman for the second year running.
- Women now hold only marginally more chair, senior independent director and CEO roles. Across the FTSE 350 there are only 25 female chairs (5 in the FTSE 100), 80 female SIDs (20 in the FTSE 100) and 14 female CEOs (6 in the FTSE 100). There are only 74 female executive directors (30 in the FTSE 100), being 11% of executive directors in the FTSE 350.
However, it also reported that a step-change is needed for senior leadership roles below board level: 50% of all appointments next year need to go to women, or the 2020 target will not be met.
Workplace Diversity: ONS figures reveal number of mothers in the workforce reaches a record 75%
The government’s Office for National Statistics has released its ‘Families and the labour market, UK: 2019’ report. It shows the employment rates of men and women with dependent children in the UK, based on data from the Labour Force Survey and Annual Population Survey. This year’s figures demonstrate that:
- The number of mothers in the labour market has reached 75.1%, a significant increase compared with 66.2% of mothers in 2000.
- The number of working fathers has increased from 89.4% in 2000 to 92.6% in 2019.
- Almost 3 in 10 mothers (28.5%) with a child aged 14 years and under said they had reduced their working hours because of childcare reasons. This compared with 1 in 20 fathers (4.8%).
- The proportion of parents who faced an obstacle fulfilling responsibilities decreased as the age of the child increased; from 34.9% of parents whose youngest child was aged between 0 and 4 years to 20.4% of parents with a child aged 11 to 14 years.
This is good news for employers who are arguably getting access to a broader talent pool with more mothers returning to work, and demonstrates how much employers need to be aware of how much family life impacts their workforce – both male and female.
Mental Health: Nuffield publishes whitepaper on effects of remote working on stress, wellbeing and productivity
Nuffield Health, working with the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University, have published a whitepaper on ‘The effects of remote working on stress, wellbeing and productivity’. The opinions of over 7,000 employees were used to gather the data. The paper looks at the varied effects of remote working on different demographics and begins to explore the future of flexible working.
From the basis of the data, the paper has also made some recommendations for employers who do already, or want to, use remote working. These include:
- Having an organisation-wide policy on remote-working.
- Understanding that remote working requires significant management time to ensure it works effectively.
- Consideration of the impact of remote working on the mental health of employees.
- Avoiding the feeling of isolation by helping managers to foster social and professional interaction, and providing the sense of belonging to a bigger group.
- Giving workers training so that they are able to navigate remote working and get the most out of it.
- Developing a relationship of trust between managers and workers.
- Ensuring their working space is adequate, wherever it may be.
- Communication between employers and workers is key to many of these considerations for example, agreeing work hours.
This is an important read for all employers now that technology is enabling us to have more flexibility. A one-size-fits-all approach could be damaging as workers should be treated on an individual basis to ensure the best working relationship, getting the best out of people, which depends on their individual circumstances.
National Minimum Wage: Rates for April 2020 delayed by general election
The Budget is the usual forum for the government to announce the latest National Minimum Wage Rates which are due to take effect from the following April. This year’s Budget has been cancelled due to the general election. Usually, the Low Pay Commission presents its recommendations to the government at the end of October, following which the government sets out its response and confirms any changes thereto in the Autumn Budget.
With no place for the Chancellor to make his announcement, this may mean it is delayed until January 2020. If your business carries out pay reviews in early January this may mean setting wages without knowing whether you will be able to comply in April.
The Low Pay Commission’s (LPC) recommendations are not yet known but the CIPD have produced their submission to the LPC earlier in the year, which may provide food for thought.
Tribunals & Courts: Closures over Christmas and New Year 2019
Details have now been published by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) of the closures of courts and tribunals over the Christmas holiday period, including Crown Courts, Magistrates’ Courts, County and Family Courts, the Royal Courts of Justice and the Rolls Building, and Tribunals. For more information see here.
If you would like any additional information, please contact Anne-Marie Pavitt or Sophie Banks on: email@example.com
- Minimum Wage: Is being on-call considered ‘time-work’, and therefore minimum wage applies?
- Contract of Employment: Variation of a discretionary bonus
- Vicarious liability: Employer not liable for Christmas party injury
- Tribunal Procedure: List of issues not pursued by claimant
- Long-term disability: Employee PHI benefits apply to returning to same job
- Unfair Dismissal: Not unfair to dismiss after tribunal and disciplinary
- TUC Survey: Britons work longer than rest of Europe
- HMRC: New guidance published regarding change to IR35 rules
- Mental Health at Work: New CIPD report shows workers increasingly absent from work due to stress
- Tribunals: Modernisation plan from 2019-20 to reform tribunals
- Equality: New GPG figures show gap is actually widening in favour of men
Minimum Wage: Is being on-call considered ‘time-work’, and therefore minimum wage applies?
This was the question before the EAT in Frudd & Frudd v The Partington Group Ltd UKEAT/0240/18/OO. The Claimants, Mr and Mrs Frudd, were a warden/receptionist team who worked at a caravan site. During the open season they worked shifts which finished between 4.30pm and 8pm and were expected to be on-call afterwards on two or three nights a week until 8am the following morning. The Claimants argued that whilst on-call they were working on “time work” and so entitled to be paid the National Minimum Wage. According to the legislation, workers paid according to the number of hours they are at work are classed as doing ‘time work’. For these workers, the average hourly pay has to be at least the National Minimum Wage, worked out over the period each pay packet covers – so for a worker who gets paid once a month, this period will be 1 month. (The sleep-in exception in the Mencap case did not apply because this was not a sleep-in situation.)
Although the Claimants had sought a finding in respect of the whole time on call, the Employment Judge made a distinction. He found that the night period (10pm – 7am) was not time work. The Claimants appealed the rest of the time (from the end of the shift until 10pm). The Employment Judge found that for this period they were working on time work because their responsibilities included showing round prospective customers and welcoming late arrivals. They were therefore entitled to be paid the NMW for that period.
The Claimants were not, however, required to carry out that work after 10pm, unless they were called out for an emergency for which they were paid. After 10pm, they were therefore not working on time work unless called out, and so were merely available for work, and were not entitled to be paid whilst merely on-call.
Contract of Employment: Variation of a discretionary bonus
In Bluestones Medical Recruitment Ltd v Swinnerton UKEAT/0197/18/BA Mr Swinnerton made a claim for unlawful deduction from wages after he was not paid a bonus he claimed was due to him. His contract stated any bonus was discretionary but he claimed that when he had been promoted to General Manager there had been a further agreement. He was to be paid a monthly bonus based on the company’s profits and he would become a shareholder. Bluestones argued that the bonus remained discretionary as once Mr Swinnerton became a shareholding director he was to be paid the money by way of a dividend. This had not yet occurred and so the money was to be advanced by way of Director’s loan, which he was to repay from his dividends. However, Mr Swinnerton was suspended, Bluestones stopped paying his bonuses and he was then dismissed, all prior to him becoming a shareholder.
At first instance the tribunal concluded this was an unlawful deduction of wages. However, the EAT found the tribunal hadn’t adequately identified the legal mechanism through which the contract was changed or what the new contract required. This failure also meant it was not possible to conclude whether the payments should be classified as loans rather than deductions from wages. The EAT therefore remitted the case to a fresh tribunal.
Vicarious liability: Employer not liable for Christmas party injury
In Shelbourne v Cancer Research UK  EWHC 842 (QB), whilst at a work Christmas party, one attendee had attempted to lift another (the Claimant, an employee) on the dance floor but dropped her, causing her a serious back injury. The Claimant took the matter to the County Court, claiming the employer (CRUK) was vicariously liable for the actions of the attendee (Robert Beilik, a visiting scientist)because it was a work event. The person who had organised the event for the employer was Mr Hadfield, and he had carried out a risk assessment to cover all the foreseeable hazards of holding an event at the premises (which included laboratories). Mr Beilik had picked up several women that night, prior to this incident, but had put them down again straight away and no one had reported any concerns about him.
The County Court held that the employer was not negligent and not vicariously liable for the actions of Mr Beilik. The Claimant appealed. The High Court considered the nature of the occasion and agreed with the County Court Recorder. It was not wrong to find that CRUK took reasonable steps in the planning and operation of the party. No duty of care was breached. The claim for negligence was, accordingly, not made out. Furthermore, he was right to find that Mr Beilik’s field of activities was his research work at CRUK and that this field was not sufficiently connected with what happened at the party as to give rise to vicarious liability.
Tribunal Procedure: List of issues not pursued by claimant
In Kouchalieva v London Borough of Tower Hamlets UKEAT/0188/18/JOJ the EAT had to consider whether the tribunal had made an error or not. The Claimant, representing herself, had brought claims against her former employers, the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, of unfair dismissal and disability discrimination. In some cases, the employment tribunal will order that a preliminary hearing takes place before the main employment tribunal hearing, as a way of helping the judge understand the case and make arrangements for the main hearing. These are usually used when the case is complicated or involves discrimination, as it was here. At the Preliminary Hearing a list of issues was agreed between the parties but, at the final hearing, the unrepresented Claimant did not lead any evidence in relation to a number of issues in that list. In the judgment, the tribunal noted that they had not been pursued, and on finding they were now out of time, declined to extend time.
At appeal, the Claimant’s counsel argued that the tribunal erred in law in failing to address the agreed list of issues because the tribunal has as its overriding objective to ensure that the parties were on an equal footing, so far as is practicable. He suggested that if the tribunal realises that an unrepresented Claimant has failed to address a particular issue, the ET should raise the matter with the Claimant and ask them whether they intend to abandon the claim. He also suggested that if the unrepresented Claimant has failed to address a particular issue then the Respondent should also bring the matter to the Claimant’s attention, and to the ET’s if the matter has not been remedied satisfactorily.However, the Respondent argued that the list of issues is a case management tool, not a pleading, and the tribunal was under no duty to raise specifically with a litigant every issue which the litigant has not pursued during the hearing.
The EAT concluded that the tribunal was not under a duty to draw the neglected issues to the Claimant’s attention. It could not treat the issues as having been withdrawn, but it could take the failure to actively pursue the issues into account in exercising its discretion as to whether to extend the time limit. It found the issues the Claimant had not actively pursued to have been out of time.
Long-term disability: Employee PHI benefits apply to returning to same job
In ICTS (UK) Limited v Visram UKEAT/0133/18 Mr Visram worked as an International Security Co-ordinator but went on sick leave with work-related stress and depression. The Claimant became entitled to Long Term Disability Benefit (“LTDB” aka permanent health insurance) under his employment after 26 weeks absence. The term of the insurance booklet stated the LTDB would be paid “…until the earlier date of your return to work, death or retirement”. After being absent from work for nearly two years the Respondent dismissed him with pay in lieu of notice, and continued to pay the LTDB until the situation had been clarified.
The issue at hand was whether construction of the phrase “return to work” meant return to work in the Claimant’s former role with the Respondent or whether it meant any suitable work which the Claimant was able to carry out whether for the Respondent or otherwise. The EAT ruled that the words “return to work” in the policy did not mean return to full-time work with any employer, but specifically the employer that he had worked for prior to going on sick leave and doing the same work. Had he not been dismissed he would have continued to be entitled to receive the benefits since he was unable to return to the same work he had been doing when he became unwell. It also upheld the tribunal’s finding that the dismissal constituted discrimination arising from disability and was unfair. Therefore he was entitled to be compensated for loss of benefits until death or retirement. The claim remitted to the tribunal for determining compensation for loss of long term and associated benefits and the issue of mitigation. (His claim for aggravated damages also remitted for determination.)
Unfair Dismissal: Not unfair to dismiss after tribunal and disciplinary
In Radia v Jeffries International Ltd UKEAT/0123/18/JOJ, a Managing Director of a FCA-regulated financial services company had taken his employer to tribunal over two claims – one for disability discrimination and a later claim of victimisation. The first tribunal found that “in several areas of his evidence the Claimant had not told the truth or had misled the tribunal and had given untrue evidence”, and additionally, they had also noted that “the Claimant’s behaviour as a regulated person would be a matter of grave concern”. Furthermore they found the employer’s witnesses credible but did not think the same of the Claimant. On receiving the judgment, the employer suspended him on full pay pending a disciplinary, but without holding an investigation. The Claimant did not appeal this judgment.At the disciplinary meeting, the Claimant disputed the tribunal’s findings against him but did not deal with the allegations themselves. For all these reasons, combined with his behaviour being “not compatible with his being a fit and proper person for the purposes of the FCA rules”, the Respondent dismissed the Claimant.
The second tribunal found in favour of the employer – it had acted reasonably in treating the findings of the first tribunal as a starting point without further investigation at that stage and then seeking the Claimant’s representations about those findings.
The Claimant issued his third claim to the tribunal complaining that his suspension, dismissal, and the Respondent’s refusal to hold the hearing of his appeal against his dismissal amounted to whistleblowing detriment, victimisation and unfair dismissal. The tribunal found in favour of the employer, that the dismissal had been fair.
On appeal, the EAT held that there was no error of law in the tribunal finding the dismissal fair – for dismissing him without holding an investigation meeting. The question was whether the decision was within the range of reasonable responses. The two stages of investigation and disciplinary meetings are not required by statute or even the ACAS Code, and therefore the tribunal was entitled to reach this conclusion in this case. However, the employer not offering him an appeal did make the dismissal unfair – the tribunal had not made sufficient findings to justify its decision that having no appeal would have made no difference.
TUC Survey: Britons work longer than rest of Europe
The TUC has recently published results of a survey they have conducted into working hours in 2018. The interesting results are that the British work an average of 42 hours a week (which equates to two and half weeks a year), and this is almost two hours longer than the European average (40.2) and five hours more than the Danes, who racked up a mere 37.7 hours a week.
Britain’s “long-hours culture” is not having a positive impact on productivity. In similar economies to ours, workers are much more productive for each hour they work.” And that “the long hours worked by Britons are depriving them of a fulfilled personal life,says the TUC.
Can this be true? With the Danes dominating the World Happiness Report rankings year after year, perhaps this is food for thought?
HMRC: New guidance published regarding change to IR35 rules
IR35 is the name given to tax legislation that is aimed at identifying individuals who supply services to clients via their own company and who are avoiding paying the full amount of tax that they should be. The rules have been changing for a while, with the most recent changes concerning those working in the public sector, but new rules regarding off-payroll working in the private sector are due to come into effect on 6 April 2020.
HMRC has published new guidance, which contains four key steps, to assist organisations in dealing with this as it will be responsibility of the organisations receiving the individual’s services to decide whether the amended off-payroll working rules apply or not.
Tribunals: Modernisation plan from 2019-20 to reform tribunals
In January 2019, Sir Ernest Ryder, Senior President of the Tribunals, published a report entitled ‘The Modernisation of Tribunals 2018’ setting out his proposed strategy for the reform of the whole tribunal system, including the immigration and employment tribunals. Following on from that, he has now published his Innovation Plan for 2019-2020, which sets out various aims and objectives to reform the employment tribunals. It includes the introduction of digital case management, recording of hearings and digital evidence presentation and the ability to use live video evidence.
Mental Health at Work: New CIPD report shows workers increasingly absent from work due to stress
The CIPD and Simplyhealth recently published the results of their nineteenth annual survey which shows that nearly two-fifths of UK businesses (37%) have seen an increase in stress-related absence over the last year. The survey is designed to explore the trends and practices in health, well-being and absence management in UK workplaces. The survey was completed in November 2018 by more than 1,000 professionals, covering 3.2 million employees across the UK. According to the report, heavy workloads and poor management style are to blame.
Overall, the findings reflect employers’ growing recognition of their critical role in improving the health of the workforce. But the survey highlights some cause for concern, including an increase in stress-related absence and a lack of support for managers, who are increasingly expected to take responsibility for their team’s well-beingreports the CIPD.
CIPD are trying to bring this to the attention of employers so that they invest in more training and development for managers. To this end they have published some top tips to support managers to minimise stress in their teams and also have a useful management development factsheet for developing people management skills.
Equality: New GPG figures show gap is actually widening in favour of men
The deadline for large private sector organisations to publish their gender pay gap figures recently passed and it seems that producing this information is, so far, not having the desired effect. Nearly ten and a half thousand companies filed their data on time, but a worrying 45% of these show an increase in the gap between the pay of men and women in the last year.
The way the figures are reported is important to understand – the median pay gap and mean pay gap are ways of expressing two different data sets. The median pay gap is the difference in pay between the middle-ranking woman and the middle-ranking man whereas the mean pay gap is the difference between a company’s total wage spend-per-woman and its total spend-per-man. Whilst gender pay gap (GPG) is not the same as unequal pay (which is illegal) this is certainly a matter of inequality. There are other matters which influence the GPG such as having fewer women in senior or highly paid roles, more women in part-time jobs or lower paid roles, fewer women generally in certain industries (particularly where STEM subjects are necessary).
Some of the biggest offenders where the women’s median hourly wage was lower than the men’s were Easyjet (47.9 %) and Independent Vetcare (48.3%), whilst Kwik Fit, Interserve FS and car retailer Inchape showed the biggest increases in their pay gaps. Overall, the figures tells us that the median GPG has reduced marginally by 0.1% to 9.6% in favour of men. There is clearly plenty more to be done. Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, said that employers are not making significant changes to tackle the disparity that exists. Indeed, there is concern about the attitude of employers who may be treating the government’s requirement to publish gender pay gap figures as an exercise in compliance, or even as a marketing strategy. There has been a suggestion that employers should publish action plans meaning they will have to explain their figures and examine and target where the inequalities exist in order to make meaningful change.
If you would like any additional information, please contact Anne-Marie Pavitt or Sophie Banks on: firstname.lastname@example.org