In an unusual case of whistleblowing detriment brought by an overseas employee against two co-workers (also based overseas), the Court of Appeal has ruled that the employment tribunal in question had no jurisdiction to hear the claim in relation to personal liability of the co-workers because they were outside the scope of UK employment law. The decision may have implications for other types of claim brought by employees posted overseas where similar personal liability provisions apply.
In December 2018, following Matthew Taylor's extensive review of modern employment practices, the government unveiled its Good Work Plan, which set out a long list of proposals. The employment law reforms mapped out by the government are still in their infancy, but this is a good moment to reflect on where things stand and what lies ahead.
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The Employment Appeal Tribunal recently upheld a decision that the removal of outdated contractual entitlements following a Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (TUPE) transfer was not void, as the sole or principal reason was not the transfer or a reason connected with the transfer. This is a relatively rare example of contractual changes following a TUPE transfer being permissible.
The Court of Appeal recently upheld a decision that the dismissal of an employee immediately before a Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations transfer was automatically unfair because the principal reason had been the transfer. This case underlines that even where an employer believes that it has a non-transfer-related rationale for a dismissal, caution should be exercised where it will occur close to the transfer date.
The High Court recently considered whether a Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (TUPE) indemnity for employment payments which fell due before the transfer date included sums whose payment dates had not yet crystallised. The case serves as a warning to practitioners when drafting TUPE provisions (eg, in asset purchase or outsourcing agreements).
A recent Court of Appeal judgment is a helpful reminder of the applicable legal tests in securing an interim springboard injunction. It also identifies several practical factors that may influence the granting of discretionary remedies in the context of a team move and reminds employers facing an injunction application of the risk that the 'truth will out' if they (or their new recruits) present misleading evidence to the court.
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.
The Court of Appeal recently upheld an Employment Appeal Tribunal decision that Asda's lower-paid, predominately female retail staff can compare themselves to higher-paid, mainly male, distribution depot staff. While the facts are specific to Asda, any employer with different groups of predominantly male or female workers should review its pay practices, regardless of whether these groups work at the same site.
The government recently published a consultation paper extending protection from redundancy for pregnant women, women who have returned to work after maternity leave and new parents. The paper seeks views on whether protection should be extended throughout pregnancy and for a period after a woman returns to work and whether this should also apply to parents who have taken other types of leave.
In 2018 sickness absences cost UK employers an average of £656 per employee. With employers likely to experience the highest levels of sickness absence between January and March, those looking to tackle short-term intermittent sickness absence may want to consider (among other things) offering flexible working options and duvet days while limiting the amount of annual leave employees take in the summer.
The government recently published details of its Good Work Plan, which sets out its considered position on the Taylor review of modern working practices. While the plan provides useful information on what is likely to happen, it is too early for employers to do much to prepare. The draft regulations that have been published so far are relatively straightforward and most changes will not come into effect until April 2020 at the earliest.
There were a number of significant employment law decisions in 2018, particularly on the issue of employment status, which continues to be a hot topic. In addition, the fallout from various high-profile allegations of sexual harassment and the resulting #MeToo movement has continued, with the use of non-disclosure agreements in harassment cases provoking debate. There are also various reforms planned following the government's response to the Taylor review of modern working practices.
The Court of Appeal recently upheld the Employment Appeal Tribunal's ruling that drivers engaged by Uber are workers rather than independent contractors. The majority also upheld the employment tribunal's finding that drivers are working when they are signed into the Uber app and ready to work. Doubt arose from the fact that a driver could have other rival apps switched on at the same time, in which case it was arguable that they were not at Uber's disposal until having accepted a trip.
The High Court recently dismissed a judicial review challenge to a finding by the Central Arbitration Committee that Deliveroo riders are not workers. Although permission for judicial review had been granted on limited grounds, the judgment provides important guidance on what constitutes an employment relationship in the context of EU human rights law and emphatically endorses Deliveroo's position that riders are genuinely self-employed.
The High Court recently considered a case where an internal auditor from the supermarket chain Morrisons disclosed payroll data on the Internet relating to about 100,000 of his colleagues following an internal disciplinary process. The auditor was tracked down, charged and sentenced to eight years in prison. But was Morrisons liable to the employees whose information he had leaked?
The chancellor recently confirmed that with effect from 6 April 2020, businesses in the private sector which engage 'contractors' (ie, individuals who supply their services via their own company or partnership (the intermediary)) will be responsible for determining whether the IR35 rules apply. If the business considers that IR35 applies, the person paying the intermediary will be responsible for operating pay-as-you-earn and national insurance contributions on the fees that it pays to the intermediary.
The government's plan to make termination payments in excess of £30,000 subject to employer national insurance contributions has been delayed for a second time and will now take effect from April 2020. Initially this change was expected to be introduced from April 2018; however, the Autumn 2017 Budget announced that it would take effect from April 2019. The further delay is welcome news for employers as it will help to keep the costs of settlement payments down for another 12 months.
The High Court has awarded an interim injunction to Berry Recruitment Limited to prevent a former employee from soliciting and dealing with its clients and candidates. This case reinforces the fact that, in the right circumstances, recruitment businesses can enforce post-termination restrictions against employees without the trouble and expense of a full hearing.
The Court of Appeal has ruled that a company was vicariously liable for the violent conduct of its managing director in physically attacking one of his employees at a Christmas party. The decision confirms that employers can be vicariously liable for actions taking place outside the normal employer-employee environment, such as an off-duty misuse of authority by someone in a senior position.