Trials and Tribulations in UK Employment Tribunals

In July last year, fees were introduced for employees to bring claims and the Ministry of Justice has just published Tribunal statistics for October to December 2013 (the first full quarter since the introduction of the fees) which show that in that time, employment tribunals received 79% fewer claims than the same quarter in 2012 and 75% fewer than in the previous quarter. Read More

Is it now OK to have the ‘It’s not working…’ conversation in the UK?

July 29, 2013 was a big day for employment law in the UK.

Firstly compromise agreements were renamed ‘settlement agreements’. This is largely a rebranding exercise but one that is welcome as we now have a title which more accurately describes what the agreement is designed to achieve.

On this same date, changes around ‘pre-termination discussions’ came into effect. These changes are contained in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act and talk about ‘confidentiality of negotiations before termination of employment’. The theory behind this new law is that employers should be able to discuss with their employees the option of the employee leaving with a settlement agreement without the risk that that discussion itself will be used against them in a future claim. Read More

Today is the Day – UK Employment Law Update

TODAY is a big day for employment law. Even though many of you will be thinking about your holidays, or may have even jetted off to sunny shores, take care to remember that certain changes are taking place which will affect your standard document and how you handle any exiting employees. Read more.

Five Grievances Don’t Make A (Dismissal) Right

A recent case in the UK Employment Appeals Tribunal Woodhouse v. West North West Homes Leeds Limited UK EAT/0007(12) has looked at whether it is possible to fairly dismiss an employee who has raised repeated grievances, on the basis that the relationship with the employer has irretrievably broken down. Read More

Employee Shareholder Status – An Innovative Solution for Innovative Employers?

After twice rejecting the Government’s proposals, the House of Lords has just finally voted to accept the much argued Clause 27 of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill, thereby paving the way for new legislation that will create a third type of UK employment status—Employee Shareholder. Read More

Employers Beware: Post-termination Whistleblowing

In the recent case of Onyango v. Berkeley Solicitors, the UK Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled that an employee was allowed to bring a ‘whistleblowing’ claim relating to a protected disclosure that was made after the termination of his employment.

Under UK law, workers are protected from receiving detrimental treatment as a result of raising a concern about certain types of wrongdoing occurring in the workplace. In Onyango, the Claimant (Mr. Onyango) brought a claim in the Employment Tribunal alleging that as a result of making a protected disclosure, he was accused of forgery and dishonesty which ultimately led to him being investigated by the regulatory body for solicitors in the UK, the Solicitors Regulatory Authority. The Employment Tribunal held that it did not have jurisdiction to hear Mr. Onyango’s claim because he had made the protected disclosure after the termination of his employment and that it could only hear the case where such disclosure was made during the course of his employment. Mr Onyango appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal. Read More

Ending It All

In the recent case of Geys v. Société Générale, Mr. Geys, who was employed as managing director was given a letter in November 2007 by Société Générale stating: “I am writing to notify you that Société Générale, London has decided to terminate your employment with immediate effect”. Mr. Geys was then escorted from the building and never returned to it. Despite this, the Supreme Court has ruled that his contract of employment was not terminated. Read More

Freedom of Speech in Social Media – UK Employee Unlawfully Demoted for Christian Gay Marriage Facebook Posts

In the recent UK case of Smith v. Trafford, the Claimant was awarded just £98 (approx. $150) by the English High Court for a successful breach of contract claim against his housing trust employer (the “Trust”). The Claimant, Mr. Smith, had posted two comments on his Facebook wall expressing his views on gay marriage. One comment stated “equality too far” and the other comment elaborated on his reasons for opposing gay marriage. In the Trust’s view, Mr. Smith’s comments amounted to a serious breach of its Code of Conduct and Equal Opportunities Policy. He had a significant number of colleagues as his Facebook friends and the Trust was concerned that his personal views would be interpreted as its own. Consequently, the Trust found Mr. Smith guilty of gross misconduct but rather than dismissing him, demoted Mr. Smith to a non-managerial position with a resulting 40 percent reduction in his pay. Read More

UK Government Encourages Employees to Relinquish Rights for Shares

The UK Chancellor announced at the Conservative Party conference this week an outline plan to enable a new category of “employee owners” to receive shares in exchange for zero capital gains tax and a significant reduction in employment rights (the press release is here). Whether this will be a sufficiently attractive carrot to justify diversion from the well-trodden path for emerging companies of granting simple and highly flexible Enterprise Management Incentive (“EMI”) options and/or to entice employees away from their statutory employment protections remains to be seen, as does much of the fine detail of the proposal. Read More