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.
In the United Kingdom's first appeal case on the operation of a European works council, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has ruled that European works councils cannot slow down managerial decision making by delaying the provision of an opinion after being informed and consulted. The EAT's decision is unsurprising but nonetheless welcome for employers.
The Court of Appeal recently ruled that offers made directly by an employer to its employees in relation to pay and working hours did not amount to an unlawful attempt to bypass collective bargaining contrary to Section 145B of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. As such, a cautious approach remains sensible given the punitive fines if an employer goes too far in its offers to employees.
The European Commission has revised its guidance on the legal repercussions of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union for European works councils, including the implications of a no-deal Brexit. Among other things, the guidance states that the EU European Works Council Directive will cease to apply to the United Kingdom and that UK employees may continue to be represented on a European works council if that is provided for in the European works council agreement.
The final form of Brexit remains uncertain, as does its impact on European works councils governed by UK law. As such, employers with European works councils currently governed by the United Kingdom's European works council legislation are strongly advised to conditionally appoint a new representative agent in a state that will remain in the European Union.
In the latest development regarding worker status and the gig economy, and applying the recent Supreme Court decision in Pimlico Plumbers, the High Court has rejected the Independent Workers of Great Britain trade union application for a judicial review of the Central Arbitration Committee's decision that Deliveroo riders are not workers based on the terms of Deliveroo's substitution clause.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal recently confirmed that offers made directly by an employer to its employees may constitute unlawful attempts to bypass collective bargaining contrary to Section 145B of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act. The tribunal held that the fact that collective bargaining had continued in this case did not prevent the employer's direct offers from having the prohibited result.
The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) has rejected an application from the Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain for collective bargaining rights in respect of Deliveroo riders. In the first high-profile worker-status decision to find in favour of a company in recent times, the CAC held that Deliveroo's riders have a genuine right to use a substitute to perform deliveries before and after they have accepted a job, which riders take advantage of in practice.
The Supreme Court recently ruled that employment tribunal fees are unlawful. The case has significant constitutional and political implications, but also raises a number of thorny practical issues regarding the volume of future claims, administrative processes, refunds of historic fees and out of time claims.
Although the Trade Union Act 2016 became law in May last year, further legislation is needed to flesh out some of its reforms and bring them into force. Now that the government has begun publishing this additional legislation, areas such as industrial action ballots, picketing and electronic ballots are likely to be affected in the year ahead.
The Trade Union Bill 2016 introduces significant reforms in relation to industrial action. These include balloting reforms, amended timeframes for industrial action following a supportive ballot and additional requirements with which trade unions must comply if they are to enjoy statutory protection for picketing during industrial disputes.