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Madeleine Byron

web-maddy1Solicitor

Madeleine joined Bermans in October 2021 and is a solicitor in the Commercial department.

Before joining Bermans, Madeleine graduated from the University of Liverpool with a first class Law degree and then completed the LPC MSc at the University of Law in Chester. She completed her training contract at an international law firm.

Madeleine can assist with reviewing and drafting commercial contracts, agreements and policies.

Outside of work, Madeleine enjoys travelling and worked in-house as a legal intern in Singapore during a university summer break. She also enjoys running and has recently started photography as a new hobby.

E: madeleine.byron@bermans.co.uk

T: 0161 393 7128

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Disability discrimination – reasonable adjustments

adrian-fryer

The duty to make reasonable adjustments is triggered if an employee meets the definition of disability contained in the Equality Act 2010. The employee must have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to do normal day to day activities. There is a common misconception that disabled employees can ask for any changes they like and say they are ‘reasonable adjustments’. The reality is somewhat different. The duty to make reasonable adjustments only arises in specific circumstances, and the requirement is to make ‘reasonable’ – rather than any – adjustments.  In the recent case of Aleem v E-Act Academy Trust Limited, the EAT has looked at whether permanent pay protection is a reasonable adjustment when the employee can  no longer do the job for which they were originally employed.

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Whistleblowing

adrian-fryer Employers must not treat an employee badly because they have made a protected disclosure. If the main reason for dismissing an employee is that they made a protected disclosure, the dismissal will be automatically unfair. Usually, it is the facts known to the person making the decision to dismiss that are relevant to an unfair dismissal claim, rather than any other facts which might be known to other employees. In Royal Mail v Jhuti, however, the Supreme Court confirmed a narrow qualification to this rule: if a manager decides that an employee should be dismissed for one reason (for example, whistleblowing) but hides that behind another false reason (such as performance or conduct) which the dismissing officer adopts, then the reason for the dismissal is the hidden reason.

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Working time

adrian-fryer The CJEU has considered another case involving rest breaks that can be interrupted at short notice and whether they meet the requirements of the Working Time Directive. Article 2 says that working time is any period of time where the worker is working, at the employer’s disposal and carrying out their duties. A rest break is any period which is not working time. There is no halfway house here – time is either working time or a rest break. A series of European cases have looked at rest breaks which can be interrupted at short notice and whether that undermines the whole point of the WTD which is to promote health and safety.

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Burden of proof – discrimination

adrian-fryer The wording which sets out the burden of proof rules in a discrimination case changed when the Equality Act 2010 brought all the laws on discrimination together in one place. The discrimination legislation previously said that if the employee proves facts which, in the absence of a reasonable explanation, the tribunal could conclude was discrimination, the burden of proof shifts to the employer who must then show that there is another, non-discriminatory explanation for their treatment of the employee. If the employee didn’t prove those facts then the claim failed. This was often referred to as the employee showing a ‘prima facie’ case. In reality, tribunals would hear all the evidence, including the employers, before deciding about whether the burden of proof shifted to the employer to explain their behaviour, not least because the employer’s evidence may completely contradict the employee’s.  The Equality Act 2010 wording is slightly different – it says where there are facts rather than where the employee proves facts, which has caused confusion and some people to think that the rules have changed. The Supreme Court has now clarified the position in Royal Mail Group v Efobi.

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Flexible working

adrian-fryer

The government has published a consultation document – Making flexible working the default – which proposes various changes to the existing rights for employees to request flexible working. This consultation document comes hot on the heels of the widespread flexible working that business and workers have had to adopt in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Homeworking has increased exponentially and been shown to work in many fields where it was previously rare. The pandemic has also created more awareness of the importance of work-life balance and caring responsibilities for children and family members who are unwell. Although some of this flexible working may not be sustainable in the long term, our eyes have been opened to what is possible and the government is seeking to capitalise on this opportunity.

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Socio-economic grouping

adrian-fryerMost employers have long been alive to issues of diversity in business in terms of protected characteristics such as  race, sex and disability. But what about class? Socio-economic grouping is not a protected characteristic, so is seeking to ensure a certain percentage of ‘working class’ employees a hurdle too far?

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