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 2010, Germany’s Federal Labor Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht) abolished the principle of collective bargaining unity, commonly referred to as “Tarifeinheit” (“One business, one collective agreement”). As a consequence, since then it has been possible that two different collective bargaining agreements applied for the same group of employees within the same operation. This ruling is supposed to be the major reasons why there have been more strikes in the last couple of months in Germany than ever before.
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…
Since 2006, when the General Equal Treatment Act came into force in Germany, most decisions about discrimination have dealt with alleged discrimination based on age. Is this surprising? Probably not. According to the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency in Germany, every fifth German claims to have already experienced discrimination at work based on age.
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?
In the recent case of Game Retail Limited v Laws, the UK Employment Appeal Tribunal (or “EAT“) considered the fairness of an employee’s dismissal for offensive tweets. This is the first time this issue has been considered at EAT level. The EAT found that the dismissal was fair, even though the Twitter account was not linked to Mr Laws’ employment, and his posts were made in his own time.
Richard Branson is now offering his staff unlimited holidays. Below we set out the key UK employment law considerations to bear in mind if you want to follow suit.
We’ve received a number of requests in the past 12 months to include an unlimited holiday clause in standard employment contracts. It’s a Silicon Valley trend edging its way into the UK employment landscape via tech companies. At first glance it appears to be an incredibly attractive benefit and the oft quoted reason for unlimited holidays is to offer a unique perk to lure in and retain the best talent.
Like in other countries, the parties to an employment agreement in Germany are free to agree on a sabbatical – a defined period during which the employment relationship is suspended. The employee is released from his active duties, and the employer is not obliged to pay remuneration and benefits throughout the agreed sabbatical.
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?
Even if a potential Employer does not know that an applicant is unsuitable for the offered job from an objective point of view, compensation claims based on discrimination would not be granted.
The first comprehensive anti-discrimination law, regulated in the General Equal Treatment Act (Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz – “AGG”), was introduced in Germany in 2006. In the early years of this Act, many so called “AGG-Hoppers” have abused this situation by applying for discriminatory job offers to assert a compensation claim against inexperienced employers as a second step.