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Employment Law: Employee status and ‘umbrella’ contracts

Can an individual employed as ‘bank staff’, with no guaranteed hours, be an ’employee’? Ms Lane-Angell worked for Hafal assisting vulnerable adults in police detention. Her contract said there were ‘no guaranteed hours’ and Hafal would use her services ‘as and when they are required, if you are available’. Ms Lane-Angell would communicate her availability which was put into a rota. When on the rota she was expected to work if required. There was a poorly enforced ‘three strikes and off’ rule where staff were taken off the rota if they missed calls whilst on duty. Ms Lane-Angell missed calls and stopped receiving work. She then claimed unfair dismissal as an employee. But was she an employee?

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Employment Law: Variations of contract

How easy is it for an employer to impose a pay freeze? In Abrahall v Nottingham City Council, the Court of Appeal decided that a group of employees had not ‘agreed’ to a pay freeze when they continued to work without protest afterwards. In 2011, the Council imposed a two year pay freeze. The recognised unions objected, but did not raise a formal grievance. Two years went by before the Council tried to freeze pay again in 2013. At that point, employees brought claims for unlawful deduction from wages based on their contractual right to a pay rise.

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Employment Law: Whistleblowing – protected disclosures

Sections 43A-43L of the Employment Rights Act 1996 protect workers who report malpractice (a ‘disclosure’) by their employer and are then treated badly. For a disclosure to be protected it must contain ‘information’ which the employee reasonably believes is in the public interest. It must also show some sort of wrongdoing (such as a criminal offence or breach of a legal obligation). Can an allegation be ‘information’?

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Employment Law: Dismissal of pregnant employee

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Do you have to reconsider a decision to dismiss an employee if you later find out she is pregnant? Ms Thompson was employed by Really Easy Car Credit, to do online telesales. She had worked there for a short time before discovering she was pregnant. During that time her performance was described as “average at best” and her employer raised various conduct issues with her. Ms Thompson took a day off sick. Unknown to her employer she went to hospital for a scan to find out whether she had miscarried.

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Employment Law: Duty to disclose relationships

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The Supreme Court has decided that a head teacher, Ms Reilly was fairly dismissed for gross misconduct, for failing to disclose to her school’s governing authority the fact that she had a close relationship with a sex offender. The teacher argued that she was under no duty to disclose the relationship. There was no clear clause in her contract requiring her to report such a relationship. She did not live with the offender, although they owned a house together as an investment. They went on holiday together. She was a named driver on his car insurance. They were not partners, but their relationship was thought to be more than a financial one.

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Employment Law: Redundancy bumping

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A redundancy arises when there is a reduction in the employer’s requirements for employees to carry out work of a particular kind. Sometimes an employee whose role is redundant can be redeployed into another role in the organisation. The occupier of that second role can be fairly dismissed instead – even though their role is not redundant. This process is known as ‘bumping.’

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Employment Law: Expectation to work long hours

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As an employer you may require your employees to work longer hours from time to time to meet business needs. If you have a disabled employee who cannot work these hours, you may have to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010 and allow the employee to work a shorter shift. However, do you still have that duty if there is no contractual requirement to work the longer hours and only an expectation that the employee does so?

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Employment Law: Disability discrimination – definition of cancer

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Cancer is listed as a disability under the Equality Act 2010, providing sufferers from protection from discrimination. Employers must also make reasonable adjustments to a cancer sufferer’s job to remove any disadvantage they suffer as a result of their cancer. The Employment Appeal Tribunal has now held that pre-cancerous lesions will also amount to a disability.

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Employment Law: Ignorance of employment rights

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A woman who was paid 33 pence per hour as a domestic worker and was unaware of her right to the national minimum wage has been successful in her claim for constructive unfair dismissal under the Employment Rights Act 1996. Ms Mruke was uneducated and illiterate. She was from Tanzania and spoke no English. Ms Mruke argued that her employer Ms Khan had breached her contract of employment by failing to pay her the national minimum wage.

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