Welcome to March’s edition of our employment law newsletter, keeping you up to date with changes in employment law, and informing you of recent case law developments.
Unfair dismissal Qualifying Period
A draft Order relating to the increase of the unfair dismissal qualifying period from one year to two years was published in February, which will apply to employees employed on or after 6th April 2012. Further details will follow once this Order has been finalised. The changes form part of the government’s initiative to reform employment law announced in Autumn 2011.
On 15th February 2012, the Statutory Instrument increasing Tribunal deposits came into force, with the increase to be applicable from 6th April 2012. The deposit which a Tribunal can order to be paid by a party to Tribunal proceedings will be increased from £500 to £1,000. In cases where an employment judge considers that all or part of claim (or a response) has little reasonable prospects of success, a party can be ordered to pay a deposit in order to take further part in the proceedings.
CASE LAW DEVELOPMENTS IN FEBRUARY 2012
In Capita Hartshead Ltd v Byard, the EAT has held that a redundancy dismissal was unfair where a pool of one was used by an employer, when the pool should have been extended to include other actuaries who did similar work to the individual who was dismissed. The Respondent argued that there was a risk that clients would be lost if their actuary was changed, but this was held by the Tribunal to be only a ‘slight’ risk.
TUPE – Organised Grouping of Employees?
The EAT has held that there was no service provision change which would constitute a TUPE transfer when a contract was outsourced from one contractor to another, when the employees spent the majority of their time working for a client, but were organised by their shifts, and were not assigned to that particular client. Accordingly, they did not constitute an ‘organised grouping of employees’. (Eddie Stobart Limited v Moreman and others).
Suspension of Employees
In Crawford v Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, the Tribunal reminded employers that referring an allegation of gross misconduct to the police should not be a knee-jerk reaction, as this risks being a breach of the duty of trust and confidence. An employer should not subject employees to this burden without careful consideration and a reasonable belief that the conduct alleged is criminal in nature. The allegation here related to care given to a patient.
Sexual Orientation Discrimination
The Court of Appeal has held that businesses must be run in accordance with the law, which includes an obligation not to discriminate against potential customers on the basis of their sexual orientation. In this case, Christian hotel owners discriminated against civil partners by refusing to allow them to share a double bed – the hotel operated a strict policy whereby unmarried couples were unable to stay in double bedrooms.
If you require any further clarification in relation to the above developments, or if you need any other assistance then please do not hesitate to contact our team of specialist employment solicitors on 0161 832 3304:
Shiva Shadi Partner
Anna Bunting Partner
Claire Reddington Associate