As the summer draws to a close and people head back to work from their holidays, now is a good time for HR to take stock. What are the key employment law cases that have been decided over the past few months and how might these impact on your practices going forwards? And what might be on the Government’s legislative agenda once the new Conservative leader takes up residence at Downing Street?
Case law developments
In July, we saw the Court of Appeal overturn a High Court decision that had prevented Tesco from ‘firing and rehiring’ employees in order to implement changes to their terms and conditions. This was significant as Tesco was seeking to remove a benefit that had been described as ‘permanent’ in communications at the time it was introduced. (USDAW v Tesco Stores Ltd)
Another source of relief for employers came in the Court of Appeal’s decision in a recent whistleblowing case. The Court held that an employee’s conduct while ‘blowing the whistle’ could be distinguished from the protected disclosures themselves as a reason for dismissal. This decision has, however, been criticised by the whistleblowers’ charity, Protect, for creating uncertainty for whistleblowers and making it easier for them to be dismissed. (Kong v Gulf International Bank (UK) Ltd)
Meanwhile, back in June, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) sounded a note of caution for employers seeking to dismiss employees for capability reasons. In this case, the EAT determined that an employee’s dismissal amounted to discrimination arising from disability where the employer had failed properly to evaluate a trial which the disabled employee had completed in a different role in a different location which might have avoided her dismissal. (DWP v Boyers)
We will be considering each of these cases in detail at our forthcoming Employment Law Update. We will also be taking a brief look at the latest Supreme Court decision on holiday pay, plus three cases dealing with scenarios in which the rights of transgender and non-binary people have come into conflict with (often strongly held) ‘gender critical’ beliefs. We will outline the facts and provide guidance for employers on managing these types of issues within the workplace.
Legislative and policy forecast
With the long-awaited Employment Bill having (again) made no appearance in the Queen’s Speech, the past year or so has proven to be rather a dry spell for employment-related legislation (other than the recent removal of the ban on using agency workers to replace employees on strike). However, on Monday 5 September, the result of the Conservative leadership election will be announced, and the identity of the new Prime Minister will be revealed. What will be on their legislative agenda and how will this affect HR?
We will share our insider insights on likely legislative and policy developments at the Employment Law Update. Such plans might include measures to support business in the face of rapidly rising energy prices, as well as proposals to make it easier for employers to recruit from overseas in certain circumstances. Reforms to data protection law to reduce the burden on business could also feature.
Make UK Employment Law Updates
We are running a series of regional face-to-face events at which our legal experts will provide an update on key employment law decisions from the last six months and how these might impact on your HR practices, as well as important forthcoming legislative and Government policy developments that are relevant to HR. We will also be offering a webinar for those who would prefer to attend remotely. Events will take place between 27 September and 6 October. For further information and to book your place, click here.