UK: HR & Employment Services

Last Updated: 19 June 2018
Article by Tina Chander

Employment contracts and timing of notice periods

Following The Supreme Court's ruling in Newcastle Upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust v Haywood that the claimant's notice period started on the day she read the letter of redundancy, not from the date when it was actually delivered, employers should review their employment contracts and amend them accordingly if the timing of an employee's notice period is relevant. In this case, the employee was entitled to a higher pension because her notice period expired on the date of her 50th birthday, rather than beforehand, as intended. Please contact a member of the employment team for advice.

Employment contracts – and GDPR

Most of you will have updated your contracts and staff handbooks to reflect the new data protection legislation (GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018) which came into force on 25 May. If you have not yet managed to complete your updates, your key focus should be on updating your privacy policy so that staff understand how you are using their personal data and on what legal basis it is being processed. HR procedures that involved data collection, processing, and storage will also need reviewing. It is important to show that you have these elements in hand in order to satisfy the ICO that you are complying. Please let us know if you need any help.

A recent study shows outdated culture hinders flexible working

A study carried out by flexibility consultants, Timewise, and Deloitte has revealed a number of barriers to flexible working, not least the perceived stigma associated with not being in the office full time in normal office hours. The study revealed a number of fears around flexible working including limited career progression, access to fewer opportunities, and an unsupportive workplace culture. If you want to review your flexible working policy or need advice on how to implement one, please contact a member of the team.

YEAR: your employment annual retainer

Reduce the time you spend dealing with HR matters, and make sure that you comply with an increasingly complex area of law, by joining our YEAR club. For more information please contact Tina Chander or visit our website: https://www.wrighthassall.co.uk/knowledge/legal-articles/2017/04/28/wright-hassall-launches-annual-employment-retainer/

Case update

Defining the 'gig economy': Pimlico Plumbers' case finally comes to an end

Pimlico Plumbers Ltd v Smith https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/uksc-2017-0053.html

The long running Pimlico Plumbers' case has finally ended with the recent ruling by the Supreme Court that Gary Smith, who worked for Pimlico Plumbers between 2005 and 2011 as a plumbing and heating engineer, was a worker, as defined by the relevant legislation, and not self-employed as attested by Pimlico. Mr Smith originally brought his claim for unfair dismissal after Pimlico refused his request for a shorter working week after he suffered a heart attack. In addition to unfair dismissal, Mr Smith also lodged three complaints relating to unlawful deductions from his wages, non-payment for statutory leave, and discrimination on account of his disability. The original tribunal determined that he was not an employee under a contract of employment (and thus could not claim unfair dismissal) but decided that he was a worker, meaning that he could proceed with his three complaints. Pimlico Plumbers appealed first to the appeal tribunal, then the Court of Appeal, and finally the Supreme Court which unanimously dismissed their appeal. The judgment highlighted a number of aspects of Mr Smith's contract with Pimlico that showed he did not have the freedoms normally associated with self-employment noting, the 'tight administrative control' exercised by Pimlico. Although this case is another important ruling surrounding the status of those who work in the gig economy, it is specific to this case and does not establish any specific legal principles around worker status.

Employers cannot impose a unilateral pay cut without breaching an employment contract

Mostyn v S and P Casuals Ltd https://www.gov.uk/employment-appeal-tribunal-decisions/mr-m-mostyn-v-s-and-p-casuals-ltd-ukeat-0158-17-joj

Following poor performance, Mr. Mostyn, a sales executive, was asked to take a substantial pay cut by his employer. He refused. His employer told him that they would press ahead regardless and impose a unilateral pay cut. In response, Mr Mostyn resigned and brought a claim for unfair dismissal. The Employment Tribunal rejected his claim on the grounds that his poor performance and failure to improve justified his employer's breach of the implied term of mutual trust and confidence in the employee / employer relationship. Mr Mostyn appealed the decision and the EAT found in his favour, noting that, regardless of the 'reasonableness' or otherwise of the employer's cause, nothing justified such a breach of an employment contract.

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