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What is the legal definition of disability?

Paul Burton
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Head of our employment & HR team, Paul Burton summarises a recent case that examined mental health, the legal definition of disability and dismissal.

Unfair dismissal for Some Other Substantial Reason SOSR

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For a dismissal to be fair, an employer needs to have a potentially fair reason to dismiss - such as misconduct, redundancy or 'some other substantial reason' (SOSR) - and the decision to dismiss must be within the range of reasonable responses. 

Can WhatsApp be monitored by an employer?

Chris Dobbs
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How and when can an employer monitor employees WhatsApp messages. Chris Dobbs looks at a recent case where an employer used whatsapp messages in a discuplinary procedure.

Homeworking: The legalities and the practicalities

Chris Dobbs
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Will WFH continue after lockdown? Can you monitor remote employees? How do you write a working from home policy? Chris Dobbs, Employment Solicitor answers your questions.

How will the coronavirus job support scheme work?

Paul Burton
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Paul Burton looks at the chancellor's winter economy plan, including the coronavirus job support scheme, viable jobs, pay as you grow and the VAT changes. 

what is the new furlough scheme?

Paul Burton
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What is the new furlough scheme? How will it work, who is eligible and how long will the coronavirus job support scheme run for?

Working from home policies: 9 points to consider

Chris Dobbs
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Specialist Employment and HR solicitor, Chris Dobbs offers the 9 points that all HR managers and business owners should consider when writing a working from home policy.

Writing a working from home policy

Chris Dobbs
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Should every business have a working from home policy? What should be included? Chris Dobbs, Employment & HR Law specialist examines an increasingly important topic.

What is constructive dismissal and the final straw doctrine?

Paul Burton
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A constructive dismissal takes place when an employee resigns in response to a fundamental breach of contract on the part of the employer. Paul Burton, specialist employment and HR lawyer examines a recent case and looks at the final straw doctrine.

Unfair dismissal, gross misconduct and homophobia

Chris Dobbs
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Chris Dobbs looks at a recent case concerning homophobia, gross misconduct, unfair dismissals and the use of anonymous evidence.

Can an employer monitor working from home?

Chris Dobbs
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Chris Dobbs, solicitor in our specialist employment & HR team, offers a comprehensive guide to remote monitoring of employees working from home.

What is continuity of employment?

Chris Dobbs
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Only employees with two years’ continuous service have the right not to be unfairly dismissed. This qualifying period is measured to the day - so it is important to be clear about precisely when an employee started work.

Marital status discrimination in the workplace

Chris Dobbs
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One of the least often claimed grounds of discrimination is marriage and civil partnership. Prejudice against married people is hardly widespread and there are few circumstances in which an employer might treat an employee less favourably because they were married.

TUPE: Can employees' terms and conditions change?

Paul Burton
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The Transfer of Undertakings Regulations (known as TUPE) provide that an employee’s terms and conditions cannot be changed because of the transfer of their employment from one employer to another.

What are the penalties for employing someone who doesn't have the right to work in the UK?

Paul Burton
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Doing so knowingly is a criminal offence and inadvertently employing someone who is working illegally can lead to a civil penalty of up to £20,000 for an employer who has not carried out a proper documentation check.

Sexual discrimination and football talk at work

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In a 44-page judgment released last month, an Employment Tribunal dismissed a claim that an employer discriminated against the only female member of its leadership team by talking about football all the time.

Legal advice for self employed hairdressers

Chris Dobbs
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Chris Dobbs, specialist employment law solicitor, examines an important ruling for self-employed hairdressers in the case of Megan Gorman.

What's the difference between unfair and wrongful dismissal

Paul Burton
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An employee dismissed without notice will often claim both unfair and wrongful dismissal. These are two distinct claims.

What is unfair dismissal?

Unfair dismissal is concerned with the reasonableness of the employer’s decision to dismiss the employee.

What is wrongful dismissal?

Wrongful dismissal is a contractual claim centred around whether the employer was entitled to dismiss the employee without giving the full contractual notice required. That in turn depends on whether or not the employee was actually guilty of gross misconduct.

Can I refuse to return to work from furlough

Chris Dobbs
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Understandably, a lot of people are still concerned about the coronavirus and whether returning to work is safe. Chris Dobbs, employment law & HR specialist answers your questions.

Returning to work from furlough Q and A

Chris Dobbs
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As the government starts to wind down the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, many businesses are taking advantage of the flexibility in lock down rules and staffing options to reopen.

What is the flexible Furlough Scheme?

Paul Burton
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What is the flexible furlough scheme and how will it work? An employment law expert gives an overview.

Why were there so many redundancies announced in early July

Chris Dobbs
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On 1st July, the BBC reported that coronavirus led to UK companies cutting 12,000 jobs in just two days. These job losses, the article claimed, were largely in high street retailers and, particularly badly hit by the pandemic, the aviation industry.

Many large companies, including H&M, Boots, and John Lewis announced redundancies in early July too.

Chris Dobbs, employment & HR specialist, looks at why so many redundancies are being announced at this time, and how the timing ties in to the furlough scheme.

NEWS FLASH: More details on changes to CJRS and SEIS announced

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The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has just provided more detail regarding the changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme that he announced a couple of weeks ago. Contributions The changes to the contributions by the government and employers are...

NEWS FLASH: CJRS extended to end of October

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Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, has just announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will carry on as it is now until the end of July and will then be extended to the end of October with changes, including employees being able to be brought back to work...

HMRC open portal for CJRS

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HMRC has opened its portal for employers to claim under the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) this morning.  Paul Burton went on to the website early this morning and it appeared to be working, although he could not test it...

NEWS FLASH: CJRS extended to end of June

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The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has this afternoon announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is being extended by one month to the end of June.  When he originally announced the scheme he did say it would be kept under review and...

Treasury Direction on CJRS - cause for concern

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The Treasury issued a formal direction to HMRC yesterday concerning the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and it does potentially raise a concern for employers .  The Treasury Direction appears to say that not only should employers have notified ...

NEWS FLASH: CJRS qualifying date changed

Paul Burton
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The government has amended its guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) again today and, while there is only one real change, it is a very important one.  They have amended the qualification date for employees to be eligible for...

More government guidance on Job Retention Scheme

Paul Burton
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The government has published not one, but two new sets of updates on the  guidance relating to the job retention scheme over the last week or so.  Paul Burton summarises the additional information and clarification provided by the government in...

Claiming wage costs for furloughed workers FAQs

Paul Burton
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At the end of last week, the government released further details of the coronavirus job retention scheme, including the areas below. We have tried to summarise these details in this article, however the full government release can be viewed by clicking the...

Carrying over holiday after coronavirus furlough period

Paul Burton
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Annual leave and the coronavirus

Workers who are unable to take all of their statutory annual leave entitlement by the end of 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak will now be able to carry it over into the next two years.

Business secretary Alok Sharma announced on Friday that the measures would come into force.

The announcement comes after pressure from employers and the CBI. Furloughed workers returning may have to take a large amount of leave in a short space of time, leaving businesses short-staffed whilst trying to recover.

Employment law advice on coronavirus outbreak

Paul Burton
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Paul Burton, Head of our Employment & HR team, has put together the following summary of advice for employers during the coronavirus outbreak. Including advice on SSP, termination, maternity, holiday accrual and qualification.

New measures to help self employed during coronavirus

Paul Burton
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Paul Burton explains what the new measures mean for self-employed workers during the coronavirus outbreak. What will self-employed workers get and how do they claim financial support during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Coronavirus help for self-employed

Paul Burton
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Paul Burton, head of our specialist employment team, explains:

  • What help is currently on offer for the self-employed during the coronavirus lockdown?
  • Why is it taking so long for the government to announce further help for the self employed?
  • When will the government announce the financial help for self-employed?
  • What is a self-employed worker?
  • How do I claim support as a self-employed worker?

Redundancy - alternative employment and trial periods

Kate Fretten
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A dismissal for redundancy is likely to be unfair unless the employer has considered whether there is suitable alternative employment within the business (or group). If suitable alternative employment is offered, it might be subject to a statutory 4 week...

What is a furloughed worker

Chris Dobbs
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Chris Dobbs outlines the definition of a furloughed worker and examines the coronavirus job retention scheme.

Update for Employers on Coronavirus school closures

Chris Dobbs
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The following is general guidance which, to the best of our knowledge, is correct as at the time of publication. This constantly evolving area of law is being amended regularly. We will endeavour to update this guidance accordingly. Updated 20th Jan at...

Coronavirus Employment Law Update

Chris Dobbs
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The following is general guidance which, to the best of our knowledge, is correct as at the time of publication. This constantly evolving area of law is being amended regularly. We will endeavor to update this guidance accordingly. Click here to read our...

Is dismissal for whistleblowing automatically unfair?

Paul Burton
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A dismissal will be automatically unfair if the main reason for the dismissal is the fact that the employee has 'blown the whistle' on malpractice. The Supreme Court has recently decided that an employer was liable for automatic unfair dismissal...

Coronavirus Update

Chris Dobbs
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This article was updated on 11th March 2020 to include announcements made in the budget to help businesses deal with the effects of coronavirus. Click here to read the updated information . There has been an update since this information was...

Holiday pay and carry over

Chris Dobbs
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Please note that there has now been a significant change to legislation mentioned in this article due to the coronavirus outbreak. Please follow this link for the most recent update. What are minimum holiday entitlements in the EU? The European Working...

Coronavirus advice for employers and businesses

Chris Dobbs
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Corona virus Advice for Employers and Businesses. The six main considerations for employers during the corona virus outbreak

Trans-phobia or Philosophical Belief

Paul Burton
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In the high profile case of Forstater v CGD Europe, an employment tribunal has looked at whether the philosophical belief that humans cannot change sex is protected by the Equality Act 2010. The employee was a consultant charity worker. She tweeted extensively (in a private rather than work capacity) on proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA).

Guidance on Confidentiality or Non-disclosure Agreements

Kate Fretten
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The guidance discourages the habitual use of gagging clauses when settling discrimination claims. It suggests they are only used in specific circumstances such as a case where a worker does not want the details of their discrimination case to become public.

The guidance also advises employers to tailor the clause to the individual case rather than using a standard template. The guidance also suggests that employers might still need to investigate claims, which are settled to show they have taken steps to prevent discrimination in the workplace.

In-house workplace investigations and misconduct

Paul Burton
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Is a dismissal unfair if the employer changes an investigation report following advice from an in-house lawyer? Not in this case, said the Employment Appeal Tribunal in Dronsfield v The University of Reading.

What is equal pay?

Chris Dobbs
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Chris Dobbs looks at legal definitions of equal pay and the case of Samira Ahmed v the BBC. 

Time off work for grieving parents

Chris Dobbs
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How much time off work can a grieving parent take after the loss of their child? Chris Dobbs looks at new legislation.

TUPE Transfers and 'Workers'

Paul Burton
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What is the definition of a ‘worker’? Employment Rights Act 1996 The worker status debate leached into the TUPE sphere towards the end of 2019. A 'worker' is defined by section 230(3) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA) as: An...

New ACAS Guidance on Menopause

Paul Burton
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This once taboo topic has been high profile lately. Half of the population will go through the menopause and yet it has historically been off limits as a discussion topic. Menopause is more important now than ever with older workers expected to stay in work...

Ethical Veganism: A Protected Belief

Chris Dobbs
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Is ethical veganism a philosophical belief and a protected characteristic? Chris Dobbs looks at the recent ruling on Veganism, implications for Employers and HR Professionals, and discrimination against vegans in the workplace.

Can you be fired for social media posts?

Chris Dobbs
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The incredible rise of social media in the last decade has caused difficulties in the workplace. Employment and HR Law has struggled to keep up with a raft of new cases, and employees and employers alike struggle for clarity on the issue. In his first...

Statutory and contractual redundancy pay

Paul Burton
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In a redundancy situation, an employee might be entitled to both statutory and contractual redundancy payments. How much is statutory Redundancy pay? Statutory redundancy payments are calculated using age, length of service and weekly pay (currently capped...

Working Time Regulations

Kate Fretten
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Breaches of Working Time Regulations Under section 45A of the Employment Rights Act 1996 , workers have the right not to be treated badly by their employer for refusing to work in breach of the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR). If such a refusal is...

Employer Liability at Christmas Parties

Chris Dobbs
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas party season is upon us and many of us will don the paper hats and celebrate another cracking (sorry) year with our colleagues. We are regularly asked for advice on about employer liability at...

Time limits on unfair dismissal claims

Paul Burton
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How long do employees have to make an unfair dismissal claim? Most employment claims should be brought within a three-month time limit. If it is not 'reasonably practicable' for an employee to present their claim within the three-month time limit,...

Commute Times and the Gender Pay Gap

Kate Fretten
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Men will commute longer Analysis by the Office for National Statistics has shown that women who commute for an hour are nearly 30 per cent more likely to leave their jobs than if they have a ten-minute commute. The ONS believes this is due to childcare...

Discriminatory job adverts

Paul Burton
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Are your job adverts accidentally putting off potential applicants? A new LinkedIn report has looked at the language used in job adverts and found that certain things can deter a potential applicant from applying. Job descriptions that put women off The...

Dismissal for long-term sickness

Kate Fretten
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What is the definition of long-term disability? A person is disabled if she has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on her ability to do day-to-day activities. To be 'long-term' an impairment must have...

Is vegetarianism a philosophical belief?

Paul Burton
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Following on from our article on veganism in the workplace, we look at a recent tribunal’s decision on vegetarianism. Is vegetarianism a protected characteristic? A philosophical belief might be a protected characteristic if it: Is genuinely held...

The Gig economy

Kate Fretten
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Self-employed or worker status? Worker status is the holy grail in the gig economy, including the fields of taxi rides, food delivery and courier services. Workers are entitled to certain employment rights such as the national minimum wage and paid holiday,...

Injury to feelings

Paul Burton
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Three bands of compensation for injury to feelings If an employee wins a discrimination claim, the employment tribunal will award compensation for injury to feelings. There are three bands: Top band for the most serious cases (currently £26,300 -...

Secretly Recording Meetings: Misconduct? Entrapment?

Kate Fretten
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Are secret recordings admissible? In unfair dismissal cases, both the compensatory and basic awards can be reduced by the tribunal, potentially to zero, based on the employee's conduct before dismissal. Secret recordings of meetings by an employee can...

Clarity on Expected Behaviour

Paul Burton
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Protected characteristics and conduct Harassment has been in the legal news again this month. Anthony harasses Belinda if he does something in relation to a protected characteristic (race, sex etc) which has the purpose or effect of violating Belinda's...

Gender pay gap reporting

Kate Fretten
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Do we need to report our gender pay gap? The Government Equalities Office has told the Treasury Select Committee that it is planning to extend the gender pay gap reporting obligations. The gender pay gap refers to the fact that average pay for men is...

Underpaid holiday pay

Paul Burton
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If employees are underpaid for their holiday, they can bring an unlawful deduction from wages claim. A claim must be submitted within 3 months of the underpayment, or the last in any series of deductions. Deduction from wages claims In the case of Bear...

Discrimination against veganism at work

Kate Fretten
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According to a recent survey of 1000 vegan employees and 1000 employers, almost half of vegan employees have felt discriminated against by their employers. 31 per cent said they had felt harassed at work or treated unfairly due to their veganism. ...

Unfair dismissal and Permanent Health Insurance (PHI)

Paul Burton
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PHI provides employees with pay during long term sickness or incapacity. Policies can define incapacity differently. Some policies define it as an employee's inability to return to their actual job. Some policies define it as an inability to return to...

Indirect age discrimination

Kate Fretten
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What is indirect age discrimination? Indirect age discrimination is where a policy that is applied to all employees negatively affects people in a certain age group. An indirectly discriminatory policy can be justified if it is a proportionate means of...

Unfair dismissal & re-engagement

Paul Burton
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What is re-engagement? If an employee wins their unfair dismissal claim, a tribunal can order compensation. They also have the power to order reinstatement (to the old job) or re-engagement (to a comparable job). Can an employee force an employer to...

Discrimination arising from disability - depression

Kate Fretten
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Discrimination arising from disability happens when an employer treats an employee unfavourably because of something that arises because of their disability (and which cannot be objectively justified). However, an employer will not be liable if they...

Race Discrimination through Social Media platforms

Paul Burton
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The ever-increasing use of social media is having a knock-on effect on relationships in the workplace. The Employment Tribunal are seeing matters brought before them in relation to online discrimination and harassment, the question being whether the employer...

What is Proselytising?

Kate Fretten
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Proselytising is where someone preaches about religion with a view to converting other people to that religion. The Court of Appeal has recently examined when a dismissal for proselytising can be fair. Can you be dismissed for religious preaching at work? ...

Shared Parental Leave Pay Discrimination

Paul Burton
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The Court of Appeal has decided that it is not discriminatory for an employer to pay men on shared parental leave less than birth mothers on statutory maternity leave. The Court of Appeal looked at the issue in a series of joined cases, including Hextall v...

Holiday Pay

Kate Fretten
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The holiday season is upon us and the next installment of the Flowers v East of England Ambulance Trust saga has arrived from the Court of Appeal. The case involves voluntary overtime and whether it should be included when calculating holiday pay....

Can unfavourable treatment arise in consequence of a mistaken belief?

Paul Burton
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No, held the EAT in iForce v Wood . Disability and fixed workstations iForce employed Ms Wood as a packer in their warehouse. Ms Wood was a disabled person for the purposes of The Equality Act 2010, suffering from Osteoarthritis. She worked at a fixed...

Confidentiality Clauses - Proposals for Reform

Kate Fretten
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The government has issued a consultation document seeking views on new measures to prevent the misuse of non-disclosure agreements in situations of workplace harassment or discrimination. The consultation document is announced on the back of several...

Long Term Disability Benefits

Paul Burton
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A recent EAT judgement on Long Term Disability Benefits answered the following question: “Where an employer was contractually obliged to provide an employee with long-term disability benefits until his ‘return to work’, did that mean the...

Lengthy Suspensions

Kate Fretten
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Did an employee's lengthy suspension ground a claim for whistleblowing detriment or race discrimination? Not on the facts of this case, held the EAT in Uwalaka v Southern Health Foundation NHS Trust . Suspension for Alleged Misconduct Mr Uwalaka was...

What defines 'Long Term' Disability Discrimination?

Paul Burton
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A recent EAT, Nissa v Waverly Education Foundation , provides some guidance on what defines ‘long-term’ disability. This certainly isn’t black and white, and the case has been remitted to a different tribunal for reconsideration, but it...

Frettens Launch Online Client Portal

Matthew Fretten
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Launched in February, the Frettens Client Portal has already received praise from a number of clients, who particularly like the user-friendly interface, as well as the security and simplicity of the software.

Judgement on Unfair Dismissal - Automatically Unfair Reasons

Kate Fretten
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When claiming dismissal on grounds of assertion of an infringement of a statutory right, must there have been an actual infringement by the employer (rather than a mere intention or threat of infringement)? Yes, held the EAT in Spaceman v ISS Mediclean...

New Acas Age Discrimination Guidance

Paul Burton
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Acas has published new Guidance on Age Discrimination to help employers and line managers manage an age diverse workforce, prevent unfair treatment at work, and eradicate bias against older and younger workers. The Guidance includes a 'top ten...

'Ground-breaking' pay deal for couriers

Kate Fretten
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Many of you will have seen in the news earlier this month that Hermes, the delivery firm, struck a deal with the GMB union to offer paid holiday and guaranteed rates of pay. The move comes in response to mounting media and political pressure on companies to...

Protected Disclosure

Kate Fretten
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Can complaining about defamation form the basis of a protected disclosure in a 'whistleblowing' claim? Yes, held the EAT in Ibrahim v HCA International, although on the facts the public interest test was not met. Whistleblower​ A...

Redundancy Protection for Women and New Parents

Paul Burton
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The government has published another consultation paper, following a suggestion in the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices . Currently, if a woman on maternity leave is selected for redundancy, she must be given priority over other redundant...

Home Office Updates Guidance on Preventing Illegal Working

Kate Fretten
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The Home Office has updated its Code of Practice on Preventing Illegal Working . The Code of Practice sets out the prescribed checks that employers should conduct to avoid a civil penalty in the event of illegal working. It replaces the Code issued in May...

Gross Pay and Employment Status

Paul Burton
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It seems Employment Status features heavily in every update we issue at the moment. Another interesting judgement was published on 10th January, after last September’s hearing. Is the right to use a substitute consistent with employee status? Yes,...

Snow Days and your Legal Obligations

Kate Fretten
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After the chaos caused by last year’s ‘Beast from the East’, and the country’s ability to grind to an almost complete halt at the first hint of snow, many of you will have probably familiarised yourselves with an employer’s...

Disability Discrimination

Paul Burton
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Is the award of an enhanced pension on medical retirement "unfavourable treatment"? under the Equality Act 2010 , if the amount is calculated based on part-time salary because the employee is working part-time as a result of a disability? The UK...

Trading Status

Louisa Knight
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Operating your own business can be a rewarding and fulfilling venture, but, at times, it can also feel like sailing against a tide of rules and regulations. Knowing the laws that apply to your business and how to comply with them can help to make life...

Government Publishes Good Work Plan

Kate Fretten
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In what has been hailed by the government as ‘the largest upgrade in a generation to workplace rights’ , the Good Work Plan’ was announced just before Christmas. The plan comes as a result of the Matthew Taylor Good Work Review and...

Are Uber drivers 'workers'?

Paul Burton
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It is likely you have read or heard about this case as it has rumbled on for some time and has been afforded quite a lot of coverage in the mainstream media. Uber BV v Aslam & others The Court of Appeal judgement on the previous Employment Appeal...

Statements of Employment Particulars

Kate Fretten
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Does an employee have a right to a statement of employment particulars when employed for less than two months? According to the recent judgement in Stefanko and others v Maritime Hotel Ltd , then yes they do, provided they have worked continuously for at...

Parity of Pay for Part-Time Workers

Paul Burton
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Was it less favourable treatment to pay a part-time worker 50% of full pay for being on duty 53.5% of full time hours? Yes, held the Court of Appeal in British Airways v Pinaud . Mrs Pinaud worked a part-time contract of 14 days on and 14 days off. She had...

Paul Burton Shortlisted for Lawyer of the Year at Dorset Legal Awards

Matthew Fretten
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Paul Burton , the Head of our Employment Team has been shortlisted for ‘Lawyer of the Year’ at the prestigious Dorset Legal Awards , Sponsored by QuoStar . Paul was actually nominated for the award by two of his clients without his knowledge....

Employment Status

Kate Fretten
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Is an employment tribunal entitled to use a "realistic and worldly wise" approach to determining employment status? Yes, held the EAT in Addison Lee v Lange & ors . Obligation to work The Claimants were all private hire drivers, who entered...

Long Term Disability

Paul Burton
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Is there an implied term that an employer will not dismiss an employee for incapability if that would thwart entitlement to long-term disability benefits? Yes, on the facts, held the EAT in Awan v ICTS . Long-term disability benefit plan Mr Awan commenced...