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Now that the dust has begun to settle on the outcome of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU there are some interesting indications of a surprising new direction in the employment rights regime. While some had feared that Brexit would lead to a bonfire of UK employment rights - in particular those deriving from EU legislation Theresa May has defined her new premiership as being about making Britain “work for everyone” implicitly acknowledging this that may not have been the case under the previous Cameron administration.

If you are a takeaway aficionado you may well have recently used the services of ‘Deliveroo’. If you prefer to make use of your own kitchen, Deliveroo is a website where customers can order from a selection of their favourite restaurants to be delivered to their door by one of their trusty bicycle couriers. Whether you’re craving a YO! Sushi, or whether you’re more in the mood for a ‘Large Whopper’ from Burger King, with just a few clicks (and a £2.99 “Roo Charge”), a courier will be on his/her bike, weaving in and out of traffic to deliver your dinner.

Gone are the days of responding to any business to business dispute simply by sending a Writ off to court at the earliest opportunity and letting a court action run its course.

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.

With effect from today’s date, there is a fundamental change for all UK companies in terms of the legal requirement to maintain their company books (or to give them their more official title “statutory registers”) which will allow all companies the option to keep their books on a brand new electronic central register maintained at Companies House.   

The aim of the new legislation is to allow greater transparency and ease the administrative burden particularly on smaller private companies. However, there is some doubt as to the real benefit in signing up to the new central public register and for many companies doing so could lead to greater issues. The new register comes into existence with effect from 30th June 2016 and all UK companies, whether you are a one man band or a large corporate, will need to make a decision whether to sign up or not.

The Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation, or “SCIO”, is the newest form of charity structure in Scotland.  Five years on from its introduction, over 1,000 SCIOs have been established.  An increasing number of clients are choosing a SCIO rather than a charitable trust or company limited by guarantee.  Read on to find out more about the key features of SCIOs.

 

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.

Chambers UK 2018

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