Stronachs Logo

Employment

The one thing that the media and politicians from all parties seems to be able to agree on following the vote by 52% of voters to leave the EU is that nothing is set in stone. The future status of the EEA citizens that are currently in the UK is one of the big unanswered questions which has been much discussed but with no decisions made to date. Theresa May, newly minted PM, earlier this month refused to commit to guarantees for EU nationals currently living and working in the UK until the status of British expats in other European countries has been negotiated.

The concept of ‘protected conversations’ or, as it is specifically framed in the legislation, “pre-termination negotiations” was introduced, in July 2013, by section 111A of the Employment Rights Act 1996. As a result, employers have been arguably more able to engage in confidential, frank discussions with employees concerning termination and parting on mutually agreed terms without the employee being able to refer to these in any subsequent legal proceedings - referred to in a legal context as “inadmissibility”. The legislation effectively extended the inadmissibility of such discussions thereby going beyond the existing common law “without prejudice” principle.

Up until now we have had no case law testing the scope of this form of statutory privilege. However, the recent Employment Appeal Tribunal case of Faithorn Farrell Timms LLP v Bailey has made some important finding about the scope and effect of the provision. As such, now is a good time to recap on where we are in respect of both the without prejudice principle and the protected conversation legislation.

The Trade Union Congress estimates that employees in the UK worked £32 billion worth of unpaid overtime hours in 2014. In November 2015, the Telegraph published the results of a poll which calculated that the average UK employee will give their employers 9,024 hours of unpaid overtime over their working life. Increasingly, technology is keeping employees linked to the workplace even after their normal shifts have ended.

The BBC published an article in June 2016 which claimed that 40% of people check their emails first thing in the morning when they wake up, and 40% check them as the last thing before they go to sleep. In France, the government has been so concerned by these trends that they are introducing an obligation on all employers with over 50 members of staff to draw up a charter of good conduct which indicates that emails should not be checked or answered out of work hours or at the weekend.

Workplace dress codes have been in the spotlight recently, after a receptionist claimed she was sent home from work at a well-known corporate finance company after refusing to wear high heeled shoes.

Nicola Thorp, who was employed as a temporary worker by an outsourced receptionist firm, said she arrived on her first day in flat shoes only to be told she had to wear shoes with a two to four inch heel. Thorp claimed she was then laughed at when she asserted that this was discriminatory.  However, following the headlines and public backlash, the firm decided to scrap the controversial dress code.

On 12 May 2016, the Immigration Bill received Royal Assent and became the Immigration Act 2016.

The Act gives effect to a number of Government commitments intended to curb illegal working and prevent the exploitation of migrant workers.  Its main provisions include;

By Annika Neukirch, Trainee Solicitor

Background

Tipping and service charges are peculiarities of the service industry which have attracted controversy recently. In 2015, for example, after widespread criticism, Pizza Express followed other restaurant chains such as Giraffe and ended its practice of charging their employees an 8% ‘administrative fee’ for paying them their share of tips which customers paid by credit card rather than in cash.

By Eric Gilligan, Partner 

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has recently published research on the prevalence and nature of pregnancy and maternity-related disadvantage in the workplace.  At first glance the results based on survey interviews with over 3000 mothers and a similar number of employers make grim reading for those concerned about workplace equality. 

By Euan Smith, Associate

Background

While it only seems like the other week that we were deciding whether Scotland should remain in the UK, on 23 June, we will be deciding whether the UK should remain in the EU.  
 
Earlier this year David Cameron argued he had achieved success in agreeing a deal for the UK’s position within the EU to be adjusted in certain respects.  Broadly speaking, the areas forming the subject of the deal were; economic governance, competitiveness, immigration and sovereignty. 

Chambers UK 2018

Contact Info

ABERDEEN OFFICE
28 Albyn Place, Aberdeen AB10 1YL
Tel: +44 1224 845845

 

INVERNESS OFFICE
Camas House, Pavilion 3, Fairways
Business Park, Inverness IV2 6AA
Tel: + 44 1463 713225

The Legal 500 logo