Employment Law May Update


Some recent developments in the employment field are set out in this update 

1 – Personal Liability of directors

Can a director of a limited company be personally liable for its breaches of an employment contract?

The High Court has recently held yes in a case where the employees were working in unacceptable conditions relating to hours of work, unpaid holiday and being paid less than the minimum wage/not paid at all.

The directors were held liable as they could not have been acting in a bona fides manner when they knew they were not complying with statutory requirements.

2 – Bereavement Leave

The government has confirmed that a new right will be introduced relating to a parent’s right to take time off work (two weeks) within 56 weeks from the date of a child’s death. The anticipated implementation date is April 2020.

3  – Prosecution of employees for unlawfully accessing data 

Three employees have recently received criminal convictions from the ICO for unauthorised access of company data (either accessing data to which they had no authority or forwarding information on leaving employment).

An employer can still be held liable for the employee’s actions but it is a useful reminder to employees that misuse of data could not only threaten their employment but land them with a criminal conviction/fine.

4 – Can you dismiss someone for breaking wind?

A police officer was dismissed for inappropriate behaviour – this included using foul language while on duty and also passing wind outside the office after she was summoned to a disciplinary hearing.

This is not the first time when breaking wind has caused problems – there have been two cases recently where deliberately breaking wind formed part of less favourable treatment towards a colleague.

5 – Can you determine when an employee is about to quit?

IBM are now using artificial intelligence which analyses the behaviour of its employees and predicts when they might leave their employment.

Will AI mean the death of Human Resources?

6 – Proposed Cap on public sector exit payments 

Limiting payouts in the public sector when employees leave has been an aim of the government for some time now.  However, the government has just published a consultation to impose a cap of £95,000 on public exit payments.

The consultation closes on 3 July 2019 and the cap could be introduced as early as October 2019.  The cap would apply to ex gratia sums, redundancy payments, pension contributions, shares and share options.

As far as payments in lieu of notice are concerned, those which amount to less than one-quarter of an individual’s contractual entitlement will not be included in the sums subject to the cap.

Payments such as a death in service, injury compensation and pay in lieu of holiday will be exempt. 

7 – Stress levels 

A recent survey has indicated that women feel more stressed than men at work, with one in ten saying that they find their stress levels unmanageable.

This brings employers back to questions of work life balance, dress codes, flexible working and pay structures.

8 – Royal Mail driver wins case after being told she should be “back home and in the kitchen”

A Royal Mail employee was bullied and harassed by a male colleague – he called her ‘arsey’, pulled her hair and told her to get ‘back home and into the kitchen’.

The treatment she received was held to amount to harassment and bullying and resulted in Royal Mail having to offer all staff additional training on this issue. 

9 – And finally – Google employees

According to recent figures, the average salary for a Google employee is £226,000.  This is more than 7 times the average UK salary of £29,009.

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