News & Views

2017 Lookback

MH
BY Miranda Hughes
Employment law

As offices wind down for Christmas, and in keeping with the festivities, we thought we would give you a wee reminder of some of the bigger employment law issues of 2017! 

Tribunal Cases Abolished

The Supreme Court decided in July of this year that employment tribunal fees were unlawful. As a result, any party that had to pay fees will be reimbursed. We have also already seen a huge increase in the number of claims made and it has been assumed that those rejected for non-payment of fees will be reinstated.

Holiday Pay for Voluntary Overtime

This year saw another development in the longstanding issue of holiday pay calculations. The EAT decided in the case of Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council v Willetts that voluntary overtime payments could be included in holiday pay calculations where they were paid over a sufficient period of time on a regular or recurring basis.

No Such Thing as Too Much Investigation

In NHS 24 v Pillar, a nurse practitioner was involved in a patient safety incident where she failed to ask the appropriate questions and referred somebody having a heart attack to an out-of-hours GP service. When dismissing an employee, the NHS had taken into account two previous patient incidents which had been dealt with by way of training. This case went to the EAT who said that there was no such thing as too thorough an investigation. Provided that the employee did not have the expectation that these previous incidents would not be taken into account, the employer was entitled to do so.

Suspension Not a Neutral Act

In a case where a teacher was suspended following allegations she had used physical force towards 2 children, the High Court confirmed that her employer provided no explanation for why the investigation required her not to be in the school. They confirmed that it should not be a knee-jerk reaction and despite what employers often claim, suspension is not a neutral act. Suspension should only be used where there is no alternative and where the presence of the employee could put others, the business or the investigation at risk.

Public Interest Can Be Private Interest Too

In the first case to consider the scope of the public interest too, a salesman who was paid commission, along with 100 of his colleagues, believed his employer was exaggerating expenses to depress profits and reduce commission payments. The Court of Appeal held that this disclosure could be in the public interest even though it was also in the Claimant’s private interests too.

Uber Drivers Are Workers

It’s been a pretty big year in the consideration of employment status across various industries but none have felt this more than Uber. The company claimed that they did not provide taxi services but instead a platform for contracts between the driver and passenger for each ride. It was Uber’s position that the drivers were self-employed. An employment tribunal and employment appeal tribunal decision later, it has been decided that the drivers do not work for themselves when they are working and as such must come under the definition of worker. 

Morrissons Liable for Employee Data Leak

Back in 2014, the personal details of nearly 100,000 Morrisons employees were stolen and published online by a former employee bearing a grudge. He was jailed in 2015 for eight years. Following this, thousands of staff sued Morrisons for the leak and they were found to be vicariously liable for the data breach.

It has certainly been an interesting year for employment law and this is only a snapshot of the decisions over the past year. We have enjoyed keeping you up to date with all these changes and will continue to do so next year.

For now, we will wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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