Lewis Silkin is widely recognised as a leading specialist employment law practice. Our team of over 100 UK lawyers includes 23 partners. Clients range from large corporations and PLCs to entrepreneurs, and include those in a variety of sectors including advertising and marketing, media and entertainment, retail, hospitality & leisure, technology, professional services, financial services and sports business. Lewis Silkin is the UK member of Ius Laboris, the world’s leading HR practice, and is also the UK representative of the Global Advertising Lawyers' Alliance (GALA), an international alliance of lawyers with expertise in advertising and marketing law.
Employment & Immigration
Employers must immediately review their homeworking practices in light of both the new national lockdown and continually changing government advice. In the longer term, this will also mean reviewing homeworking policies and arrangements on a more formal basis. These FAQs summarise the government guidance on work under the current lockdown and a range of other considerations that employers must take into account in relation to homeworking.
The Home Office has confirmed that there will be no change to the right-to-work (RTW) check procedure for EEA nationals who start work in the United Kingdom between 1 January 2021 and 30 June 2021 (the post-transition grace period). However, it has left unanswered the question of what to do when an EEA national has no RTW.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic still dominates the agenda, the employment law landscape continues to evolve. This article reviews the significant developments in 2020 (eg, the establishment of the furlough scheme and various other emergency measures) and looks ahead to what is on the horizon for employment law in 2021 (eg, the IR35 reform, the possible introduction of the new Employment Bill and the impact of the Brexit trade deal).
With the end of the Brexit implementation period comes the end of the free movement of persons. This is the case irrespective of the fact that the United Kingdom has secured a trade deal with the European Union. Employers and individuals must digest what the new immigration rules look like, both for EEA and Swiss nationals (aside from Irish nationals) wishing to come to the United Kingdom and British nationals wishing to go to the continent.
The United Kingdom and the European Union have published their Trade and Cooperation Agreement. As predicted, in return for a tariff and quota-free trade deal, the United Kingdom has agreed that it will not reduce employment law rights below the standards that existed on 31 December 2020 – but only if this affects trade or investment. This article assesses the implications that the deal might have for employment law.
On 10 December 2020 the United Kingdom opened up a process for EEA nationals to apply for a frontier worker permit. This will allow some cross-border commuters who work in the United Kingdom but live abroad to continue their working pattern after the end of the Brexit transition period.
This article explores the growing phenomenon of 'long COVID' – the continuation of serious symptoms and effects for a significant period after a person's initial COVID-19 infection and illness. People who suffer from long-term health conditions may be 'disabled' in law and so protected from discrimination under the Equality Act. This article considers whether long COVID could amount to a disability for these purposes and the potential consequences for employers more generally.
The end of the transition period and freedom of movement is only a few weeks away. Although employers are busy getting to grips with the post-Brexit immigration system, they are also concerned about what changes they must make to their right-to-work check procedures and when. This Q&A – based on questions asked by attendees of a recent webinar – answers the key questions on this matter.
The government recently launched a consultation on reforming the law concerning post-termination non-compete clauses in employment contracts. Its proposals include making such terms enforceable only if employers pay individuals for the period of restriction or, alternatively, prohibiting the use of such clauses altogether. The consultation will mark a radical departure from the current and longstanding legal framework if it ultimately leads to the introduction of statutory regulation in this legal area.
The Immigration and Social Security Coordination (EU Withdrawal) Act 2020 recently received royal assent. The act provides the legislative basis for ending EU free movement arrangements in the United Kingdom after the end of the transition period and recognising the immigration status of Irish citizens in the United Kingdom.
With a vaccination against COVID-19 in sight, many employers will understandably be eager to have their employees vaccinated in hope of their workplace finally returning to some form of normality. This article explores some of the legal issues of which employers must be aware.
The High Court recently ruled that the United Kingdom has failed to properly implement EU health and safety law by restricting protection from detriment on health and safety grounds to 'employees'. The extension of such protection to the broader category of 'workers' potentially increases employers' exposure to COVID-19-related health and safety claims.
The Home Office has issued new guidance for sponsors which replaces the Tier 2 and Tier 5 sponsor guidance. It covers the skilled worker, intra-company transfer and temporary worker routes and aims to provide information on sponsorship when these routes are launched from 1 December 2020.
With reports of businesses increasingly taking steps to monitor staff who are working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a key question that has emerged is whether employers can actively monitor those who are working remotely and, if so, how intrusive can that monitoring be? This article discusses the legal considerations and how employers can strike an appropriate and fair balance between work and home life.
From 31 January 2021 two new immigration routes will be introduced for British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) citizens and their adult children who were born on or after 1 July 1997. These two routes are BN(O) status holder and BN(O) household member. The Home Office recently published the detailed Immigration Rules for these routes, which this article summarises.
The government's Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support Scheme has been extended for a further six months, providing two further three-month grants after the expiry of the second grant period. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has announced that all three months of the third grant will be calculated at 80% (with a £7,500 cap), which will no doubt be welcome news for the self-employed as England enters its new lockdown.
Employers have lots of questions regarding the new immigration system that will apply in 2021, particularly with regard to the Skilled Worker visa, which will replace Tier 2 (General) from 1 January 2021. This Q&A – based on questions asked by attendees to a recent webinar – answers employers' main questions.
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has accepted a commission from the home secretary to review intra-company transfer visa arrangements. The MAC has also been asked to consider what provision could be made to allow overseas businesses to send a team rather than one individual to establish a UK branch or subsidiary, or carry out a secondment to work on a high-value goods or services contract. The report is due by the end of October 2021, with a revised route likely becoming available in 2022.
The government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the furlough scheme) has been extended until the end of March 2021. Although this is welcome and will allow for more effective business planning, the new five-month extension may mean that some employees will spend an entire year on furlough. This article discusses what is currently known about how the scheme will operate.
Despite the EU Settlement Scheme being publicised as simple and straightforward, there are many potential pitfalls for the unwary, particularly when the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic are factored in. To avoid them, individuals must be aware of the scheme and get to grips with it before the end of 2020. This article sets out some of the potential pitfalls and suggestions for how to avoid them.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the furlough scheme) will be extended rather than closed as originally planned. The extension will cover a new lockdown in England, which is expected to come into force on 5 November 2020 and last until 2 December 2020. This article summarises the immediate questions and implications for employers and provides possible wordings that they can use to inform employees of the changes.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has significantly expanded the Job Support Scheme after objections from businesses, particularly those in Tier 2 areas, that they are facing massively reduced demand but less support from the government than Tier 3 businesses legally forced to close. The changes could have a significant impact – but employers have little time to take the steps needed to take advantage of the scheme before it takes effect on 1 November 2020.
The Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules HC 813 was recently published. This key document outlines the features of the government's points-based immigration system and simplifies the language and structure of some areas of the Immigration Rules. The new system will apply to EEA and Swiss nationals, aside from Irish nationals. This article highlights some of the changes that are likely to be of most interest to employers.
The Global Talent visa route is designed for individuals who are recognised or emerging leaders in digital technology and wish to work in the United Kingdom. Successful applicants will be granted up to five years' leave in the United Kingdom and can apply to extend their visa as many times as they like. This article outlines the criteria for endorsement used to assess whether an applicant qualifies as either a recognised or an emerging leader.
New regulations underpinning the three-tier lockdown system are now in force in England as part of the government's efforts to step up its response to the pandemic. This article considers whether the new regulations will demand a stricter approach to office work, as well as what may constitute a gathering, the rules for travelling to work in a different tier and how to approach client and internal work meetings.
The Migration Advisory Committee has recommended a significant expansion of the occupations deemed to be in shortage for the purposes of sponsorship under the new skilled worker category, which will replace Tier 2 (General) from 1 January 2021. The Home Office will now need to consider the recommendations and finalise the Immigration Rules for skilled workers.
It is almost inevitable that the coming months will see employers receiving more employment tribunal (ET) claims. Imminent changes in ET procedures are likely to reduce case backlogs and lead to claims progressing to a hearing more quickly in a climate in which employment disputes are increasing. How will this affect employers?
The government's new Job Support Scheme (JSS) replaces the furlough scheme and will start on 1 November 2020. The JSS will provide ongoing wage support for people in work, provided that employers meet certain access conditions, employees are working at least 33% of their usual hours and employers also provide additional wage support. This article answers FAQs covering eligibility, how the scheme works, what employers must agree with employees and alternative resourcing options for employers.
From 1 January 2021 there will be a new immigration system in the United Kingdom. Due to free movement ending, the new system will apply to EEA and Swiss nationals as well as non-EEA nationals. Employers must start to prepare for this change now. This article provides a timeline which outlines the areas that employers must consider and suggests timeframes for taking action.
The Home Office recently published new Immigration Rules for students. The rules provide the first glimpse of the new points-based immigration system and highlight what some of its implications will be, not only for students, but also for employers and workers. While the new rules for work routes will not be published until later in Autumn 2020, the new rules for students provide some significant pointers on the Home Office's general thinking and flag some areas in which further policy clarifications will be needed.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has announced a new Job Support Scheme to replace the furlough scheme. It will start on 1 November 2020 and run for six months. This article sums up the key features of the scheme and looks at the important questions from an employment law perspective.
What health and safety obligations do employers have towards employees and visitors with regard to face coverings in the workplace? How should they enforce wearing face coverings if people refuse? And how should they protect employees from abusive customers or visitors? This article discusses the current rules regarding face coverings at work and some of the practical issues that may arise for employers.
Employers and other stakeholders have until 1 October 2020 to provide the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) with views on how well the commercial partners of UK Visas and Immigration are performing, for applications made both in the United Kingdom and abroad. The ICIBI is seeking evidence from stakeholders on whether commercial partners are meeting the needs of UK visa applicants.
This article outlines everything that applicants should know regarding the Innovator visa, including with regard to the purpose and length of stay, endorsing bodies, endorsement criteria and genuineness and other considerations. The innovator route is open to applicants who are experienced businesspeople looking to establish a business in the United Kingdom and are the founders of their business, relying on their own business plans, among other things.
This article explores the legal limits of positive action in the workplace, including situations where it is permissible to give preference on gender or ethnicity grounds to make up for a historic lack of opportunity and what employers can and cannot do to improve diversity in their shortlists or hiring slates.
Recent years have seen rapid growth in the use of algorithms in employment, particularly in recruitment. Algorithms are now being used in interviews – for example, to assess candidates on their facial and vocal expressions. This article explains why claims regarding algorithms and discrimination are likely to become more common in the years ahead, something which UK employment law and enforcement mechanisms are ill-equipped to deal with.
This article outlines everything that applicants should know regarding the requirements for the Start-up visa, including with regard to the purpose and length of stay, endorsing bodies, endorsement criteria and genuineness and other considerations. The start-up route is open to applicants who are looking to establish a business in the United Kingdom for the first time and are the founders of their business, relying on their own business plans, among other things.
EEA nationals and their employers are now turning their minds towards how frequent business and work travellers and cross-border commuters can continue to come to the United Kingdom from 2021. For some, the best solution may be offered by the EU Settlement Scheme, but there are also other options to consider.
Despite further attempts at delay, the final version of the notorious private sector IR35 rules are now enshrined in the Finance Act 2020, which recently received royal assent. Under the IR35 rules, from April 2021 large and medium-sized businesses will be required to determine the status of any contractors providing their labour to the business through personal services companies or other intermediaries and, if appropriate, operate pay as you earn and make national insurance contributions.
The Home Office has started to make early contact with sponsors whose licences are due to expire before the end of 2020. These sponsors will be able to apply to renew their licences earlier than the usual maximum 90 days before expiry. This should help to avoid delays at the end of 2020 when thousands of licences are up for renewal at the same time as European free movement ends for UK citizens.
The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns have caused millions to work from home for the first time – an experience likely to cause a surge in requests for flexible working arrangements once most employees are asked to return to the workplace. This article considers the legal position and the practicalities for employers in dealing with flexible-working requests.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought questions around migrants' rights to access public funds and the National Health Service (NHS) into the spotlight. Migrants can access the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme via their employer. However, there are limits to the government assistance which some migrants are entitled to following disruption to their normal income, and access to free NHS healthcare may also be unavailable to some people.
Recent events in the Conservative party have focused attention on the question of what an employer should do if one of its employees is accused of committing a crime. If the alleged victim and the accused are expected to work alongside each other, if there is a significant potential risk to the safety of other people or if the nature of the allegations alone is damaging the reputation of the organisation, employers are, at the very least, entitled to act.
The supply of labour is a growing area of the UK economy. As employers require more flexible staffing solutions, new business models have emerged offering a range of labour-supply options. Many businesses that have historically provided services have also expanded into the supply of labour, providing their clients with people to supplement their existing workforce. This article sets out the key obligations of businesses that supply labour and the consequences of non-compliance.
In a last-minute update on 29 July 2020, the Home Office pivoted towards a return to business as usual regarding immigration policy. Some significant concessions remain available until at least 31 August 2020; however, there are a number of potential pitfalls of which employers and individuals should be aware.
The Home Office recently updated its policy guidance to confirm a surprisingly limited concession to the usual minimum income requirements that most applicants for partner and child visas must meet. The guidance is intended to ensure that applicants are not disadvantaged as a result of circumstances beyond their control because of COVID-19. However, it is concerning for multiple reasons.
A requirement to self-isolate for 14 days in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 has been re-imposed on all people returning to the United Kingdom from Spain. Happening in the middle of peak summer holiday season, how does this affect employees who are already travelling or due to travel in the next few weeks?
The official guidance remains that employees should work from home if they can, but the prime minister recently announced that this will change on 1 August 2020. Employers will be able to ask employees who have been able to work from home since the lockdown to return to their workplace, provided that they have taken steps to ensure that the workplace is COVID-19 secure and social distancing measures are in place.
The Home Office has released the first guidance on the new Health and Care visa for doctors, nurses and allied health professionals, including individuals working in the social care sector. The Health and Care visa will be available from 4 August 2020 and will fall under the Tier 2 (General) category.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends on 31 October 2020, with employers required to start contributing from August 2020 and a new flexible furlough option available from July 2020. This article highlights the latest developments, including with regard to flexible furloughing arrangements, government contributions and claim deadlines.
The Home Office has published a more detailed policy statement on the changes to the UK immigration system due to come into effect from 1 January 2021, including its redesign of points-based immigration routes. The statement summarises the planned reforms to the most commonly used work, business, study and visit routes ahead of simplified immigration rules and guidance being published in Autumn 2020. This article outlines the key policy points for specific immigration categories and arrangements.
This article sets out the main immigration law issues and Home Office guidance of which employers need to be aware so that they can consider the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for their business. It summarises the latest updates and provides further details on issues ranging from logistical considerations to Tier 2 and prevention of illegal working requirements.
As national lockdown restrictions begin to ease, employers can expect local lockdowns to become more common. This article explores the relevant HR and employment law issues, including with regard to employee pay, refurloughing and staffing workplaces that are trying to stay open.
The government's Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support Scheme has been extended to provide a second three-month grant for self-employed individuals affected by COVID-19 after 13 July 2020. The value of the second self-employed grants has been reduced to 70% of trading profit for three months. The government has made it clear that financial support cannot continue indefinitely, and that this will be the final grant instalment under the self-employed scheme.
The government recently announced its commitment to establishing a new visa scheme for all British National (Overseas) persons and their dependants. The visa will provide a readily available opportunity for millions of Hong Kong residents to move to the United Kingdom more easily and honours the United Kingdom's historic commitment to Hong Kong.
Windrush Day is a time to celebrate the substantial and ongoing contribution of the Windrush generation and their descendants, who helped to rebuild the United Kingdom after World War II and have influenced the United Kingdom's social, cultural and political landscape ever since. It is also a time to reflect on righting the wrongs of the Windrush scandal and focus on the fight against racism.
COVID-19 is causing many employees to ask if they can work from home for an extended period overseas (eg, because it is their home nation or because their family is based there). Employers should consider a variety of issues – including the tax, social security, immigration and employment implications – before agreeing to an employee's request to work from home when home is not in the United Kingdom. This article discusses the issues and sets out practical steps that employers can take to minimise risks.
UK visa processing is slowly starting to resume, but it is not yet business as usual. There are still many things that employers and applicants must monitor and potential pitfalls to avoid. The issues relating to processing remain complex and, as each country is moving out of lockdown at a different pace depending on their local restrictions, each application should be considered on a case-by-case basis.
The government has published updated guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, setting out the pathway to its phasing out. The guidance provides details of the complex mechanism under which flexible furloughing (ie, part work and part furlough) will be allowed from 1 July 2020.
New rules require most international travellers who arrive in the United Kingdom from 8 June 2020 to self-isolate for 14 days. There is an exemption for cross-border workers; however, how this works in practice is not straightforward. This article examines the exemption and provides information for employers with regard to eligibility.
With Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests taking place across the United Kingdom and worldwide, many businesses have publicly stated their commitment to equality and the BLM movement. However, what happens when the experience of current or former black, Asian and minority ethnic employees is alleged not to live up to that standard? Employers must find ways to address such complaints and take appropriate action where needed.
The Brexit transition period will end on 31 December 2020. EEA nationals and their family members who are resident in the United Kingdom before that date have until 30 June 2021 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. In doing so, they will obtain either settled or pre-settled status. The Home Office recently confirmed two points concerning EEA nationals and their family members.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme may have been extended until 31 October 2020, but employers should already be thinking about what their workforce might look like following the end of subsidised furlough and a return to more normal working patterns. This article answers key questions on options for restructuring workforces, including with regard to ending or extending furlough, notice and redundancy payment rights during furlough, changing terms and conditions and dealing with redundancies.
The government has set out its roadmap for gradually easing the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, but as employees begin to return to work, there will continue to be many individuals who are unwell or required to self-isolate. This article answers some of the most frequently asked questions about sickness absence and sick pay during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including the rules on statutory sick pay and the position of people who are self-isolating, shielding or otherwise vulnerable.
The Home Office recently published an expanded list of COVID-19 frontline workers' occupations entitling them and their family members to a free and automatic one-year extension of leave. The expanded list includes biochemists, midwives and paramedics. Controversially, other frontline health and social care workers – in particular, care workers and home carers – have been excluded from the extension arrangements.
Following the government's publication of its post-COVID-19 recovery strategy, employers are beginning to consider how they may safely reopen their workplace for those who cannot work from home. Employers have statutory duties to provide a safe workplace, but what of risks faced by employees during their commute to work? For many employees, the key concern is not what happens in the workplace, but rather the risks of using public transport to get there.
Employers have until 24 June 2020 to provide their views to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) on what occupations should be on the shortage occupation lists for UK sponsored skilled migration from 1 January 2021. Employers can complete an online form outlining details of what occupations they have difficulty recruiting for and why. In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the MAC would also like to hear from employers that are unable to respond before the deadline, but can provide details for future research.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended by a further four months until 31 October 2020. The furlough scheme will continue in its current form without any changes until 31 July 2020. However, new flexibility will be introduced from the beginning of August 2020, with the aim of getting employees back to work and boosting the economy. Employers should use the news of the furlough scheme extension to think proactively about the next stage of their business continuity plans.
Under the Home Office's current guidance for right to work (RTW) checks, it is possible to conduct a fully compliant initial or follow-up RTW check without seeing an individual face to face. Where this is impossible during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Home Office has instituted a temporary adjusted procedure, which must be backed up by retrospective checks in due course. This article summarises the options and procedures and highlights some general points to be aware of during the pandemic.
COVID-19 has changed the ways in which businesses run and there is still some time before it is 'business as usual'. Most employers are grappling with new ways of working, with many employees working from home. However, what should employers do if they become aware of an allegation of misconduct or wrongdoing? This article considers whether a remote investigation is the right step to take and what employers should bear in mind if they conclude that it is.
The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe is having significant and wide-ranging economic and public health impacts. Businesses are already feeling the adverse side effects of profoundly changed trading circumstances. This article highlights the immigration implications of a number of actions that employers may be forced to take to protect their business over the coming months.
This article sets out the main immigration law issues and Home Office guidance of which employers need to be aware so that they can consider the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for their business. It summarises the latest updates and provides further details on issues ranging from logistical considerations to Tier 2 and prevention of illegal working requirements.
The United Kingdom's current lockdown extends until at least 7 May 2020, after which there is likely to be a further extension. When it eventually begins to be lifted, measures for a gradual and phased return to the workplace are likely to be imposed, with physical distancing measures remaining in place. Pending formal publication of detailed guidelines by the government, employers should start thinking ahead about how to manage the process. This article looks at the practical issues to consider.
Ramadan began on the evening of 23 April 2020 and will last for 30 days (until the evening of 23 May 2020), which means that some or all of it will be taking place under the continued lockdown imposed on account of the COVID-19 pandemic. What issues do employers need to be aware of during Ramadan?
The Home Office has released an update for employers on the new points-based immigration system due to take effect from January 2021. Despite the disruption caused by COVID-19, the Home Office still intends to go ahead with the new immigration system within the timeframe outlined in its policy statement released on 19 February 2020. What does this mean for UK employers?
The government has issued further updates to its guidance for employers on claiming for employee wages through the new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and separate guidance for employees. Alongside this, the government has published separate information for employers in advance of the online portal opening for claims on 20 April 2020.
The Supreme Court has allowed an appeal by Morrisons Supermarkets plc, one of the United Kingdom's major supermarket chains, overturning a finding that it was vicariously liable for a rogue employee's deliberate disclosure of payroll data relating to some 100,000 co-workers, of whom 10,000 brought a group claim for damages.
The government has updated its guidance on how furlough will work in practice under the new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The guidance gives more clarity on salary sacrifice, which types of worker can be claimed for and which payments can be included. This article sets out the key points from the updated guidance and answers FAQs about the scheme.
The government has announced that the planned reforms to IR35 will now take effect on 6 April 2021 instead of 6 April 2020 as previously planned. The postponement will come as an enormous relief to businesses that were struggling to prepare for this significant change to employment tax while dealing with the issues introduced by the fast-changing coronavirus situation. However, this is clearly a deferral of the reforms rather than an abandonment.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal has ruled that an employee's dismissal for gross misconduct was unfair because the investigating officer failed to share significant new information with the manager who conducted the disciplinary hearing and decided to dismiss the employee. The case highlights the importance of employers undertaking thorough investigations into disciplinary-related allegations before making a final decision.
The coronavirus outbreak has brought to the fore numerous employment law concerns, including questions about travel, health and safety, work attendance and discrimination claim risks. This article examines what employers in the United Kingdom need to know about the outbreak.
Failing to enhance pay for shared parental leave is not sex discrimination – permission to appeal refusedUnited Kingdom | 11 March 2020
The Supreme Court has refused permission to appeal in Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police v Hextall. This means that the law remains as set out in the Court of Appeal's judgment, which stated that failure to enhance pay for shared parental leave was neither indirect discrimination nor a breach of equal pay rights.
The Fawcett Society is backing a private member's bill which aims to tackle unequal pay between men and women by introducing a new 'right to know' what male comparators are paid. The aim is to provide women who are not being paid equally to male comparators a route to get the information that they need. The bill also proposes to change the gender pay gap reporting process.
In a welcome but late move, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has confirmed that the imminent IR35 reform will apply only to supplies of labour provided on or after 6 April 2020. With less than two months to go before the change takes effect, many businesses will consider HMRC's announcement and its recently issued detailed guidance too little too late as they grapple with the significant administrative burden and cost implications of the reform.
The government has finalised the legislation to implement an entitlement to two weeks' paid bereavement leave for working parents who lose a child aged under 18. The new right will come into force with effect on 6 April 2020. In readiness, all employers should review their policies and practices and amend them as necessary to reflect the new rights.
The proposed IR35 reform represents the biggest change to employment tax for decades. Until now, businesses have been able to engage contractors using personal services companies (or other intermediaries) without having to give much thought to the individual contractor's status for tax purposes. The proposed changes mean that businesses must review how they engage with contractors ahead of April 2020.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published substantial new guidance on sexual harassment and harassment at work, setting out detailed recommendations that employers should consider following to prevent and deal with such behaviour. The guidance puts the onus on employers to be more inquisitive about what is going on in their workplace, rather than simply having policies and dealing with complaints.
In a decision with implications for unfair dismissal law generally, the Supreme Court ruled that it is not always necessary for a dismissing manager to know about whistleblowing disclosures made by an employee in order for that dismissal to be automatically unfair. The facts of the case were extreme, involving a manager who had deliberately created a false picture of inadequate performance which the dismissing manager had then believed, but the decision nonetheless has significant wider implications.
According to an employment tribunal in the widely reported case brought by Jordi Casamitjana, ethical veganism can be a philosophical belief that is protected under the Equality Act. But what does this mean in practice for employers?
What were the most significant employment law developments in 2019? What can be expected in 2020 under a newly elected Conservative government with a sizeable majority? Despite Brexit continuing to dominate the political agenda in 2019, there were significant decisions in the courts and proposals for reform. Looking ahead to 2020, various Good Work Plan reforms will come into effect and the government plans to introduce a new Employment Bill, paving the way for further employment law reforms.
In a surprise decision, with potentially wide-ranging ramifications, an employment tribunal has found that workers, as well as traditional employees, transfer under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006. The decision is employment tribunal level only, so it has no binding precedent weight and may be appealed. Nonetheless, it raises some immediate practical considerations.
In the face of undoubtedly strong feelings on both sides of the Brexit debate, questions are likely to arise regarding the implications of employees bringing their Brexit views into the workplace. Specifically, are there potential discrimination risks and could a strong belief regarding Brexit count as a philosophical belief for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010?
Despite the dominance of Brexit, employment issues are one of the main election battlegrounds for all of the major political parties. There is a particular focus on current hot topics, including insecure work and the gig economy, the gender (and other) pay gaps and new mechanisms for enforcing employment rights. This article covers the key employment measures that have been proposed by the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and the Scottish National Party.
The Court of Appeal has refused an application by British Airways plc for an injunction to restrain strike action by airline pilots, thereby ruling that the trade union provided sufficient detail as to the categories of employee to be balloted under the statutory rules. The ruling provides useful clarification for unions and employers when they are respectively drafting and supervising industrial action ballot notices.
The Supreme Court recently ruled that judges are workers under whistleblowing legislation and are thus protected from being treated badly for making a protected disclosure. In the case at hand, the court agreed that the judge did not obviously fall within the definition of a 'worker' because she did not work under a contract, which would mean that she was not protected by whistleblowing laws. However, the court decided that this failed to protect her human rights – specifically, the right to freedom of expression.
Confidentiality clauses or non-disclosure agreements have become a topic of significant interest because of how they can be used to prevent employees from reporting allegations of sexual harassment or other similar misconduct. The government recently published its response to a consultation on the regulation of confidentiality clauses, which sets out a number of proposals for new legislation in this area.
A recent Employment Appeal Tribunal case clearly underlines that, on a Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) transfer, new employers must ensure that all records kept by the transferor in relation to the national minimum wage are transferred when it takes over the employees (especially as such records are likely to be held electronically). The transferor's refusal or failure to provide the records should be dealt with by way of indemnities or other contractual provisions in the transfer documentation.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) recently ordered an employer to disclose comments that it had received from its external solicitor relating to an employee's dismissal because it had deliberately disclosed other related privileged documents which were helpful to its case. Interestingly, this case is one of the few where the EAT has had to grapple with issues relating to privilege. It is also a strong reminder that employers that make a tactical decision to waive privilege must be aware of the potential ramifications.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) recently published its recommendations for eliminating class-based bias in society. Its report points to a number of statistics demonstrating that working-class individuals suffer disadvantage in the employment sphere. As such, the TUC has proposed (among other things) the introduction of compulsory class pay gap reporting for all employers.
During the Trades Union Congress conference in early September 2019, the Labour Party announced plans for a new Workers' Protection Agency and Ministry for Employment Rights. In particular, Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn promised the biggest ever extension of employment rights in the United Kingdom, designed to put power in the hands of workers. Other Labour Party proposals include expanding 'worker' status to everybody except genuinely self-employed persons.