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.
Charlesworth v Dransfields Engineering Services Ltd
Mr Charlesworth, a branch manager, took a period of sick leave after developing cancer. His employer had been looking to make cost savings, and during Mr Charlesworth’s absence the business identified the possibility of a restructure that would delete his job and save the business up to £40,000 a year.
Kinnear v Marley Eternit Ltd t/a Marley Contract Services
Mr Kinnear was taken on by Marley under a four-year apprenticeship during which he was trained in roofing.
A downturn in workload led to his dismissal for redundancy despite his contract having 122 weeks left to run. He could not find another company to take him on, and so was not able to finish his apprenticeship.
Gnahoua v Abellio London Ltd
Employees have the right to be accompanied by a colleague, or a trade union representative or official at a disciplinary hearing. An employer who breaches this could face a tribunal claim and the possibility of having to pay compensation of up to two weeks’ pay.
The Government Legal Service v Brookes
Psychometric testing has long been a way of assessing the aptitude of job applicants. But this tick-box test, marked by computers, doesn’t necessarily provide a level playing field.
Ms Brookes has Asperger’s Syndrome. She applied for a job as a trainee lawyer in the Government Legal Services (GLS). The first stage of the recruitment process was a multiple-choice test, known as a Situational Judgment Test (SJT). Ms Brookes asked if she could respond by giving short narrative written answers. (The tribunal went on to find that, as a person with Asperger’s, she lacked social imagination and would have difficulties in imaginative and counter-factual reasoning in hypothetical scenarios.) GLS refused.
Focus Care Agency v Roberts
Certain industries, perhaps most notably the care industry, rely on workers being on-call; sometimes even sleeping at work so that they’re on site and available to help if needed. The perennial question, for employment law purposes, is whether these workers are ‘working’ – and entitled to the rights that go with that (not least the National Minimum Wage) – for the entire time, and not just when they are awake and attending to duties.