The Court of Appeal recently found that it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of a mistaken perception that they have a progressive condition which would make them unable to perform the full functions of a role in future. This decision confirms that the test is not whether the discriminator believes that the impairment meets the legal definition of 'disability', but whether they believe that it has those features. However, beyond this point, the case has raised some difficult issues.
The EU Work-Life Balance Directive introduces new rights for carers and working parents. If the United Kingdom needs to comply (or if it chooses to do so), UK employers must make several changes to their existing family leave and pay framework. For example, although the United Kingdom provides a right to paternity leave and pay, both rights are currently subject to a six-month service requirement. To comply with the directive, the service requirement for paternity leave (although not pay) would need to be scrapped.
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 government is committed to cracking down on disguised employment. In order to achieve this, the IR35 rules will change from April 2020. The IR35 rules apply where contractors personally provide services via an intermediary. However, if the contractor is directly engaged, they would be considered an employee or office holder for tax purposes. The changes will also apply to more complex labour chains, so an early understanding of the labour supply chain is critical.
The Court of Appeal recently confirmed that the EU Working Time Directive requires voluntary overtime to be included in holiday pay if it is sufficiently regular and settled to amount to normal remuneration. This ruling is in line with other recent cases which have covered what should be considered when calculating holiday pay. It provides clear authority that employers should include sufficiently regular and settled voluntary overtime in their holiday pay calculations.
In an emphatic judgment, the Court of Appeal has ruled that it is not direct discrimination, indirect discrimination or a breach of equal pay rights to provide enhanced pay for maternity leave and statutory pay only for shared parental leave (SPL). This judgment is good news for employers, as it sends a clear message that it is lawful to enhance maternity pay but provide statutory pay only for SPL.
Following a trial in the High Court where an employer was awarded final injunctions to prohibit a former employee from breaching post-termination restrictions, the losing employee was ordered to pay 90% of his former employer's legal bill. This is a useful decision for employers, as it demonstrates that a reasonable and proportionate email trawl need not infringe an employee's privacy rights.
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.