Guernsey: Carey Olsen Reviews The Employment Law Landscape
Last Updated: 5 January 2015

The recent and sudden changes to the unfair dismissal law by Jersey's new Social Security Minister, Susie Pinel, were discussed at a recent employment law seminar held by Carey Olsen.

Carey Olsen partner Siobhan Riley, referring to the decision to change the unfair dismissal qualifying period from six months to one year as of 1 January 2015, said: "It is unusual to see such a swift decision in respect of a fundamental provision of law."

Speaking to 50 HR professionals and business people, Carey Olsen of counsel, Huw Thomas, said: "To my knowledge, there has been no further formal consultation on the qualifying period since the Employment Forum recommended it remain at 26 weeks.  It will be interesting to see how Deputy Geoff Southern's proposition for the decision to be rescinded is received."

Mr Thomas also reviewed how the discrimination law has impacted businesses since its introduction 100 or so days ago – in particular the first claim publicly made under the Law against Liberty Bus and the States of Jersey's Transport & Technical Services.

Mr Thomas advised businesses to look carefully at their restrictive covenants given the risk of senior departures as the economy improves and businesses look to expand work forces or hire teams of specialists from competitor businesses.  Restrictive covenants must be refreshed regularly as businesses often only realise that covenants are unfit for purpose when they try to enforce them. For example, an employee may be in a junior role when originally signing covenants, but then moves into a more senior role where the restrictive covenants either don't apply or do not adequately protect the business."

Barrister Charlotte Davies from Littleton Chambers in London said businesses also needed to be mindful of how to protect confidential information. Ms Davies discussed how employers could go about identifying and protecting their information in practice and reviewed the options open to employers when things go wrong and information is misappropriated.

Carey Olsen associate Tarina Le Boutillier concluded the session by outlining the expected changes to Jersey's laws in 2015, including the introduction of flexible working and other family friendly rights such as maternity, paternity and adoption leave for employees. She also discussed some miscellaneous amendments to the Employment (Jersey) Law 2003, including amendments to notice periods required to be given by employees and changes to automatic unfair dismissal provisions, as well as the proposed sex discrimination regulations which are anticipated to come into force in late 2015.

Advocate Riley said: "In 2014 we have seen significant changes to Jersey legislation affecting employers and employees and further legislative changes are set to continue into 2015."

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