Nicola Whiteley, a partner in London, is a valued member of the Employment Group with more 17 years experience and is head of the London Employment Team.
Nicola was recognised in Legal 500 in 2011 with clients praising her as a "great communicator". In 2013, Legal 500 recognised Nicola describing her as "exceptionally capable" and awarding "the exceptional department" a Tier 8 ranking. Nicola's team was also listed in the 2016 edition of The International Who's Who of Management Labour and Employment Lawyers. In 2016, Legal 500 again recognized Nicola describing her as "clever, experienced and thorough litigator".
Nicola regularly publishes newsletters, presents seminars and provides tailored training sessions on a range of employment-related topics, a few of which include TUPE, contracts, unfair dismissal, working time, enforcement of cross-border restrictive covenants and trade secrets, financial services renumeration practices, employment status, team moves, mock tribunals, redundancy practice and procedures, works councils and other consultation issues, discrimination and data protection.
Some of Nicola's most notable recent engagements including the following:
- Advised a European bank in relation to employee aspects of an asset management merger including implementing a complete harmonisation of terms and conditions by way of dismissal and re-engagement.
- Advised a leading financial institution in relation to employee matters on two parent and local level mergers with other leaders in the field, including implementing a complete harmonisation of terms and conditions by way of dismissal and re-engagement of all the employees and ongoing advice on issues relating to a proposed takeover, a related management buy-out of part of the business and a number of high value bonus and deferred compensation cases.
- Advised a leading global recycling and manufacturing company on a collective consultation exercise involving a large-scale redundancy, closure and voluntary benefits reduction exercise in two of its UK sites.
- Advised a leading Scandinavian bank on a recent merger, relocation, harmonisation of terms and restructuring exercise.
- Advised a multi-national energy company on a collective redundancy and reduction of benefits exercise for its entire UK workforce.
- Advised and represented a leading European bank, in relation to the defence and favourable settlement of an unfair dismissal, age and sex discrimination claim.
- Advised and represented a leading financial institution in relation to grievance and disciplinary proceedings involving whistleblowing, personal injury and discrimination allegations and successfully avoiding any resulting claim.
- Advised leading American investment bank in relation to a stress claim brought by an employee.
- Defended an international software company against a multi-strand discrimination, unfair dismissal and whistleblowing claim by a vexatious litigant.
- Defending a high profile fund management firm against a sex and race discrimination, sexual harassment, victimisation and bonus claim by an existing employee, achieving a swift and very favourable settlement.
- Advised and represented a leading European bank, in relation to the defence and favourable tribunal outcome of an unfair dismissal and race, age and sex discrimination claim.
- Represented a leading global financial services institution in a concurrent UK High Court and US District Court action (including anti-suit injunction) arising from breach of restrictive covenants and consequent forfeiture of restricted stock by a senior international executive.
- Represented a multinational energy company, in relation to a High Court breach of contract action from a former expatriate employee, involving jurisdictional issues.
We set out below our best guess on where this leaves employees, management and HR in the UK.
Firstly as we have all heard repeatedly today, nothing is going to change immediately and that is the same for employment law. It will be years before any changes are made and for the time being, everything remains the same and critically, no one has to leave.
Much of our employment law is just that – employment law driven solely by the UK. We then have laws that have been enacted into UK law as a result of European directives – so those laws are the ones that may, at some point in the future, be targeted. Our guess at Orrick is that changes where they happen will be focused on consultation rights, holiday pay and working time. Worker involvement has never had the same traction in the UK that it has with our European counterparts and the UK has always viewed employee consultation with a degree of skepticism. For this reason, we think it may eventually be a focus for change.
In the heady days of the Coalition Government, gender pay gap reporting started to get some traction on the political agenda. This led to the 2011 initiative ‘Think, Act, Report’ which encouraged employers to voluntarily publish gender pay gap information. According to a Guardian article in August 2014, citing a parliamentary question from the shadow Equalities Minster at the time, 200 companies signed up to the initiative but only four of those ever published any data. £90,000 of public money later and we were clearly no further on.
Following months of waiting the UK Government has finally published its draft regulations on the new “gender pay gap reporting” requirements in the UK. On publication of the draft regulations, the UK Government has asked one final consultation question: “What, if any, modifications should be made to these draft regulations?” – And so it would appear that the draft regulations are nearing but possibly not quite in final form, pending any pertinent responses received.
Relevant firms in the UK have until March 7, 2016 to appoint a “whistleblowers’ champion,” who then has until September 7, 2016 to oversee their firm’s readiness for the new whistleblowing regime.
The new whistleblowing regime: why make the change?
Since the 2013 Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards recommendations were published in the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) has been examining ways to ensure that individuals working in financial services feel able and encouraged to speak up when they have concerns to avoid the same financial scandals of the past.
Asia Employment Law Update
Proposed Regulations May Complicate Reductions in Force in China
On December 31st, 2014, Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (“MOHRSS”) issued a notice to solicit public opinions on the draft Regulations on Personnel Cutbacks by Enterprises (“Draft Regulations”). The Draft Regulations set out detailed implementing rules for “mass layoffs” (defined under the Labor Contract Law as being a layoff of more than 10% of the workforce or more than 20 employees) and, if adopted in their current form, will further complicate the process for conducting reductions in force in China.
You know how you wait for ages for a bus to come (well, we do in Europe) and then three come along at once? Well it’s a little like that in the data privacy arena right now, as far as transfer of international personal data is concerned, anyhow. For years, there has been a reasonably steady and fairly consistent position from the various bodies responsible for this complicated and often confusing area of law, but in the last few weeks we have been hit with a significant change overnight and we are all left wondering where to get off.
In the recent case of Ramphal v. Department of Transport (DoT) the tricky question of where HR should draw the line in a disciplinary matter between guiding the decision-maker on the right decision, and making that decision for them, was considered. The results weren’t great for the HR manager involved in this case…
Imagine that you have a senior employee who you have decided (for whatever reason) that you do not want anymore but you do not want to pay out his 12-month notice period. As an ingenious attempt to get around that, you instruct forensic investigators to carry out a ‘fishing expedition’ to try and find some dirt on him that will justify you summarily dismissing him, rather than paying out what he is owed under his contract. Imagine that your luck is in and you do indeed find some dirt but that the dirt you find is five year old dirt. Would you think that the High Court is going to accept this approach and agree that you don’t have to pay the notice period?
According to research cited by the British Association of Dermatologists, one in five Britons now has a tattoo. Amongst US 30 somethings, the estimate rises to about two in five, with facial piercings being almost as common in both countries. As a result, this is becoming an issue that more and more employers have to grapple with.
Employers may wish to promote a certain image through their employees which they believe reflects the ethos of their organization and tattoos and piercings may well not fit with that image. So how should this be handled and are there any pitfalls of imposing rules of this nature on employees?
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