Alastair Currie reports on a decision which provides some welcome clarity on dealing with employees whose (potentially valid) whistleblowing concern escalates into a 'campaign' which would be (as the employment tribunal put it) "sufficient to try and to exhaust the patience of any organisation."
This month the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has considered what is meant by an 'intention' that a contract will be short term and, therefore, exempt from TUPE – can it be a 'hope' or a 'wish' that the contract will be short term, or does it need to be more concrete? This question was looked at in the context of employees providing home care to a patient pending a Court of Protection application. The EAT also looked at whether an employee who was suspended from work at the time of the transfer was 'assigned' for the purposes of TUPE. Sarah Lamont reports.
Anne Palmer takes a look at this month's key employment law news stories, including a raft of changes coming into force next week; family-friendly and surrogacy developments; zero-hours contracts and, finally, reports on the dramatic drop-off in employment tribunal claims and its possible implications.
Although many cases of maternity discrimination may be fairly clear cut, the picture can be more complex when issues of discrimination arise in relation to maternity related illness, particularly when it occurs after the 'protected period'. Alastair Currie
looks a case which clarifies the correct approach to take when an employee is dismissed because of post-natal depression which occurs after maternity leave has ended – and provides a useful summary of this somewhat complex area.
In what may turn out to be an epoch-making moment in relation to gender equality in the workplace, this October will see new regulations coming into force which will enable parents to choose which of them will take leave to look after their baby during its first year of life. This month, the government has published draft regulations setting out the detail of how they intend the scheme to work in practice. Given that the new arrangements will apply to babies born from next April onwards, it would be sensible to start preparing for the new arrangements now. The operation of shared parental leave is complex but Sarah Maddock provides a useful guide to the new scheme's key features.
Although enthusiasm for New Year's resolutions may be now be waning, those who chose to give up smoking in 2014 are increasingly likely to be shoring up their resolve – or even replacing their habit - with the use of 'e-cigarettes'. It is reported that over a million people are using them in the UK and anecdotal evidence suggests that they are starting to make an appearance in the workplace. Last month, the Government announced that it will introduce a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to children and further regulation is expected. How should employers respond to this change in public habits? asks Jodie Sinclair.
Getting your dismissal policy and procedure spot-on is now more important than ever, as the Employment Appeal Tribunal has taken a narrow approach to employers' protection under the 'Johnson exclusion zone' - the rule which stops employees circumventing the unfair dismissal cap on compensation by bringing their claim as a 'breach of contract'. In the same case, the EAT also looked at an employer's ability to 'make amends' by withdrawing a notice of dismissal on appeal – is this possible..? Julian Hoskins reports.
This month's Employment news round-up is brought to you by James Gutteridge
and covers: an update on tribunal fees, the latest changes taking effect under the government programme of employment law reform, an update on TUPE and redundancy collective consultation cases and, finally, how the Francis Report continues to make its impact felt.
Last Summer, fees for the use of the employment tribunal service were introduced for the first time in its history. Since 29 July 2013, claimants have been required to pay an 'issue fee' of up to £250 to start their claim and, if it proceeds, a further 'hearing fee' of up to £950 is payable. A 'fee remission' scheme allows for full or partial waiver of fees for claimants who can demonstrate that they meet a very stringent means test.
Despite the gloomy time of year, there are at least three reasons to be cheerful today: 'Blue Monday' (20 January) is out of the way, January is very nearly over, and Bevan Brittan's first News Round-Up of 2014 is here. And, as if is not enough, this is a special 'New Year New TUPE' edition, in which Sarah Lamont
looks at what the 2014 TUPE regulations will mean for you, alongside other recent developments in the world of employment law.