the latest briefs.....

Check here for the very latest news on all employment issues…

Latest Brief - Week Ending 1 June 2018

Zero hours contracts and less favourable treatment

This week, the EAT has decided a case involving a part-time lecturer for a University who worked under a zero hours contract.  He brought a claim under the Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000, and sought to compare himself to a full-time lecturer.  

Initially, the employment tribunal found that a full-time lecturer was not a valid comparator for his claim, as the two individuals were not employed under the same type of contract.  However this has now been overturned on appeal to the EAT, and it has been confirmed that a zero hours contract and full-time permanent contract are the same type of contract for these purposes, as both the claimant and his comparator were employees employed under a contract of employment.  The EAT confirmed that a contract is not of a different type just because the terms and conditions it lays down are different.  The implications of this decision could well be wide ranging, and could result in employers needing to review the terms of their zero hours contracts to ensure that they are comparable to those for their full time staff.  

The 10 worst excuses for not appointing women to FTSE 350 boards

The team behind the recent government commissioned review which called on FTSE 350 companies to aim for a minimum of 33% women's representation on their board by 2020, has revealed the most outrageous excuses that companies have used for not appointing more women to their boards.  

Excuses include "there aren't that many women with the right credentials and depth of experience to sit on the board - the issues covered are extremely complex," "I don't think women fit comfortably into the board environment," and "we have one woman already on the board, so we are done - it is someone else's turn."  

It is clear that there is still some way to go when it comes to working towards a better gender balance on boards, with one commentator noting that these comments were more reminiscent of 1918 than 2018.  The latest figures showing the number of women on FTSE 350 boards are due to be published on 27th June.

Latest Brief - Week Ending 25 May 2018

Dismissal without prior warnings

The EAT has this week upheld the decision of the Tribunal that a hospital trust fairly dismissed a surgeon for a serious of misconduct issues, even though none of them by themselves amounted to gross misconduct, and the employee had received no prior warnings and had an unblemished disciplinary record. 

The Claimant in this case was dismissed for multiple alleged breaches of the hospital's internal reporting procedures, even though there was no single finding of an act of gross misconduct by the Claimant.  The Tribunal accepted that the employee's conduct had undermined the trust and confidence in the relationship, and the EAT noted that it was quite possible for a series of acts demonstrating a pattern of conduct to be of sufficient seriousness to undermine this trust and confidence.  The EAT therefore considered that there was no reason why an employer would be outside the band of reasonable responses to dismiss an employee in whom it had lost trust and confidence in this way.  

Data Protection update

It has been almost impossible to avoid mention of the GDPR over the last few weeks, and the GDPR has finally become directly applicable in the UK (and throughout the EU) as at 25th May.  The UK's own Data Protection Bill has also received Royal Assent this week, bringing it into law as the Data Protection Act 2018.  The DPA 2018 replaces the DPA 1998, and aims to modernise the framework for data protection in the UK, and ensure that the standards set out in the GDPR have effect in the UK.  The DPA 2018 ensures that the UK and EU data protection regimes are aligned post-Brexit, so that the UK will continue to be able to exchange personal data with the EU going forward.   

New guidance published

ACAS has this week published new guidance in relation to discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief at work, providing information on how employers can accommodate workers with religious beliefs.  This includes how to deal with requests to take holiday for religious reasons, and how to deal with issues arising out employees fasting.  This guidance is available here:http://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/a/p/Religion-or-belief-discrimination-key-points-for-the-workplace.pdf 
In addition, the Government Equalities Office has also published guidance intended to assist employers, employees and job applicants in relation to dress codes and sex discrimination.  The guidance can be accessed here:https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/709535/dress-code-guidance-may2018-2.pdf