You know those buttons at places like airports and service stations that customers can press to show that they feel happy, unhappy, or indifferent about the service they have received? Well, it seems that Sports Direct has implemented something similar to discover how staff feel about the working conditions at one of its warehouses.
The organisation has come in for some criticism in recent times, and this idea is reported to be one of a number of measures put in place. According to the Guardian, workers are asked to use a touchpad to select a ‘happy’ or a ‘sad’ emoji. Sad emojis trigger an invitation to discuss the problem.
Aziz v The Freemantle Trust
Ms Aziz was a care worker who had relocated to the Trust’s Dell Field Court site. Issues arose between her and two other workers, and this triggered a period of difficulties, complaints, suspensions, absences and grievances.
The situation was deemed to be dysfunctional, and the Trust decided that Ms Aziz should be moved to another site. She was given three weeks’ notice and confirmation that she would be paid her additional travel expenses in line with the employer’s relocation policy. But Ms Aziz didn’t take up what she said was her employer’s offer to move to a different location. This led to her dismissal for unauthorised absence, failure to engage with the Trust and, ultimately, a fundamental breakdown in trust and confidence.
Guisado v Bankia SA
Pregnant workers in the UK are protected by the Equality Act. The legislation makes pregnancy and maternity discrimination unlawful, the relevant period being the start of the worker’s pregnancy to the end of their maternity leave or when they return to work (if earlier).
It is also automatically unfair to dismiss a worker, or to select her for redundancy, when the reason or main reason is connected to her pregnancy or statutory maternity leave. This doesn’t mean that a pregnant woman or a new mum cannot be dismissed, but employers must be careful to ensure that the reason for this is not pregnancy/maternity-related.
British Airways v Pinaud
People who work part-time are protected from being treated less favourably than their comparable full-time colleagues. The question in Ms Pinaud’s case was whether working more than 50% of full-time hours but not being paid more than 50% of a full-time salary was less favourable treatment.
Ms Pinaud’s part-time working pattern, described as a 50% contract, was 14 days on and 14 days off. Over the course of a year, she was required to be available for 130 days. Compare that with the full-time position, which required workers to be available for 243 days in a year.
Barbulescu v Romania
Back in 2016, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held that a worker in Romania who had been dismissed for his personal use of the internet at work had not been dismissed unfairly because of the employer’s monitoring of his internet usage.
Mr Barbulescu had sent messages to his brother and fiancée via his work-related Yahoo account. He later argued that, by monitoring his use of the internet and by using his Yahoo messages in disciplinary proceedings, his employer had breached his right to respect for private life and correspondence.
Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council v Willetts and others
Holiday pay calculations continue to cause difficulties for employers, with uncertainty still existing over the question of which elements of workers’ pay should and should not be taken into account.
In the case of Mr Willetts and some of his colleagues, an employment tribunal decided that overtime that was purely voluntary, as opposed to being a contractual right or duty, should be included in the holiday pay calculation because it formed part of ‘normal remuneration’. That was notwithstanding the employer’s argument that voluntary overtime lacked the necessary intrinsic link to the performance of the contractual tasks and so should be excluded.
July 2013 heralded the introduction of fees in the Employment Tribunals (ETs) and Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT), with the Government proclaiming its aims were to discourage claimants from pursuing weak “nuisance” claims and to reduce the cost of the system to the tax. While at first glance these would seem to be perfectly reasonable objectives, there was in fact a steep drop in the level of claims by around 66-70%, with ACAS reporting that 1 in 10 potential claimants that contacted them decided against issuing a claim specifically because they could not afford the fees, which at up to £1,200 were not insubstantial.
In one of the most important legal decisions in recent years in the employment field, the Supreme Court has allowed the appeal of UNISON in its challenge to the introduction of employment tribunal fees.
If you’re a fan of the Peter Kay show, Car Share, you’ll have seen the perfect sickie in the making. John’s car share buddy, Kayleigh, calls into work. She feigns a stomach bug with great aplomb, while John looks on. It’s all part of her plan to lure John, who happens to be the assistant manager in the store where they both work, to the safari park for the day.
Elmore v The Governors of Darland High School
In most unfair dismissal cases, an employer will put its dismissing officer and its appeal officer in the witness box. It makes sense to give the tribunal a full account of what happened at each stage and why. But this case shows that a fair dismissal may be found even where the appeal officer does not give evidence.