Under the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR), workers are entitled to an unpaid 20-minute rest break after working six hours. During this 20-minute break, workers must not be required to perform any duties.
We look at the recent case of Grange v Abellio London Ltd, where the EAT held that
(1) An employer acts unlawfully by even not accommodating (as opposed to refusing) the 20-minute rest break ; and
(2) ET’s can permitted to award personal injury compensation for this.
Mr Grange worked as a relief roadside controller. This role involved monitoring and regulating the bus services. He was to work 8 hours 30 minutes per day, with a 30-minute uninterrupted lunch break. However, because of the responsive nature of the position, he found it difficult to fit in his break. Therefore Abellio changed Mr Grange’s hours to a continuous 8 hours (without the 30-minute break). He filed a grievance, complaining that over the previous two and a half years, he had been made to work without a break, which adversely affected his health. Abellio rejected this grievance.
Mr Grange lodged a claim at the ET, alleging a breach of the WTR. The ET rejected the claim, concluding that ‘there had never been a refusal of a rest break’ by Abellio.
Mr Grange appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).
The EAT allowed Mr Grange’s appeal in that they rejected the ET’s rationale that there had to be a explicit ‘refusal’ to win a claim. The EAT confirmed that ‘simply the denial of a right through the arrangement of the working day’, even if the worker didn’t request one could constitute a refusal and therefore a breach of the rest break requirements in the WTR.
The EAT also said that the ET can award personal injury damages for a failure in providing rest breaks under the WTR. The EAT’s rationale was that because the WTR is designed to protect the health and safety of a worker, naturally ET’s should be able to award personal injury damages for these breaches.
This case serves as a stark reminder for employers to ensure that arrangements are in place for workers to have an uninterrupted break of 20 minutes if they are working for more than six hours on a given day. Failure to do this may prove costly, especially now this case confirmed damages for personal injury can be awarded.
Case report: Grange v Abellio London Ltd.
By Zahid Reza
Image used under CC courtesy of BarkRead More
This unique birth has highlighted the inadequate paternity rights fathers of premature babies have. They have to return to work after just 2 weeks’ leave. Their babies may be in hospital for long periods of time with many complications. The current paternity leave laws make no provision for this scenario.
How do new dads cope?
Firstly, the employee should have discussions with their employer. The employee can check whether they have enhanced contractual paternity rights. The employer may also sign the employee off sick so they can support their partner and baby. The employee could use parental leave but this is usually unpaid and unsuitable.
Current paternity rights
Statutory paternity leave is limited to one or two weeks’ paid leave. It is taken after the birth and completed within 8 weeks from birth. The medical definition of a premature baby is at 37 weeks or earlier. Most are born between eight and three weeks early. Eight weeks is clearly insufficient time. Babies born prematurely are also more likely to have a disability.
Over 60,000 babies are premature in the UK, which is 7% of all births. A number that will affect many new fathers. Lobby groups are urging the government to do more to support these families by improving paternity rights.
What can employers do?
Employers might consider offering better contractual paternity rights by way of:
- Additional paid leave
- Allow employees to take leave beyond the 56 days deadline
- Allowing temporary flexible working arrangements
- Varied start/finish time
- Home working
Alternatively, employers could introduce a compassionate leave provision. Or even paid parental leave for such circumstances. Ensuring line managers understand the difficulties of this scenario will also help. This would result in better support for employees while balancing the needs of their business.
Employees who keep their employers informed of their situation will find most are supportive. Many problems arise through lack of communication. At such a difficult time, they might even consider asking a relative to speak for them.
Employees are encouraged to talk openly about the difficulties they face. Both parties can then agree practical ways to cope with paternity issues.
Image courtesy of César RinconRead More
We saw this job vacancy on the internet. You might ask what is wrong with seeking a bearded retiree to a deliver parcels by sleigh and be paid in mince pies and sherry – after all this has been the protocol for centuries!
Well, it’s bound to lead to employment claims for this recruiter. Let’s take it apart:
The Equality Act requires a recruiter to consider a wide enough pool of potential applicants to avoid discrimination.
This advertisement deters candidates who are young (“white hair” and “retired”) and female (“beard”). Age and sex are “protected characteristics” and cannot be used as a criterion for selection. Why shouldn’t a young female applicant, who can drive a sleigh etc, perform the job?
Using the word “active” implies that only able-bodied candidates are suitable, which again deters those with disabilities.
If Santa is diabetic there is no reason why mince pies and sherry could not be substituted with gin and sugar free tonic and salted peanuts! This may be an adjustment the employer should consider in order to avoid employment claims.
But wait! Muslims, Presbyterians and Quakers are unlikely to be open to being paid in alcoholic drinks. This is indirect discrimination (a one-size fits all policy that affects some religions more than others).
But this is Santa we’re talking about. Santa must be an older man, that’s what the role requires.
Or, in legal terms, could the direct discrimination be justified by the ‘genuine occupational requirement’ defence?
It depends on whether Santa is performing a role or playing a role. If only people with a particular protected characteristic can do the job (the usual example is a male or white actor needed for a white male role) then these requirements are needed. But there is no such requirement to perform the role of delivering parcels.
If Santa is playing a role, then the ad is fine from the discrimination angle. But as we all know, Santa is real and the ad falls foul and could lead to employment claims.
Excluding candidates based on protected characteristics can be costly – tribunal claims can be bought by anyone who sees a job ad. All this would lead to claims of a few thousand pounds in injury to feelings per applicant who brings a claim, plus some compensation for the chance of losing out on the job by otherwise qualified applicants.
National Minimum Wage and Working Time Reg claims
Payment in sherry rather than money is a real concern, because workers should receive the NMW in the form of cash, rather than benefits in kind (regulation 10(f) of the NMW Regulations 2015). Santa must get at least £187.92 for the 24 hour shift.
Obviously, deliveries must take place overnight, otherwise the world’s little boys and girls would see them take place and the magic of Christmas would be spoilt. However the employer must ensure that no night worker doing work involving special hazards or heavy physical strain works for more than eight hours in any day (reg 6(7) of the WTR). In our view, carrying loaded sacks onto slippery roofs counts under this regulation. Therefore the employer should be looking for several candidates to cover the shift.
Under reg 7(1) Santa is entitled to a free health assessment. If that shows that the cold conditions would be bad for him (or her) then deliveries would have to take place in the daytime, on Boxing Day (reg 7(6)). Regardless of the health check results, Santa would have to get the deliveries done in 13 hours to get the 11 hours’ uninterrupted rest per day given by regulation 10.
Other WTR regulations allow Santa regular rest breaks because the work is ‘monotonous’. Santa should certainly take opportunities to sit down in armchairs by the fireside.
Holiday entitlement accrues, of course, as Santa rides around the world’s rooftops. Parents should put an extra 12.07% of sherry in the glass and leave a note to explain that the extra sherry represents rolled-up holiday pay.
There is no legal entitlement to extra pay for working on a bank holiday.
Could Santa be self-employed? This is an uncertain area for employment claims and we’re sure many Christmases will go by before this is area becomes clear. As there are no hours mentioned in the ad, we presume Santa will be on a zero-hours contract, which indicates they are likely to be a worker rather than an employee.
Neither the NMW nor WTR apply to self-employed people. If so, ignore everything in this section!
Health and safety
Anyone thinking of giving alcohol to staff needs to know that they may end up sharing liability for any alcohol-related sleighing accidents that take place.
In fact, Santa’s job is a health and safety nightmare from the employment claims perspective. Chimneys may look roomy at the top but the health and safety people don’t let children or grown-ups go up or down chimneys these days.And we’re not even going to discuss compliance with the Work at Height Regulations 2005!
Merry Christmas from Hatton James Legal!Read More
There has been a huge recent development which sleep-in carers across the country will want to be aware of, potentially changing the lives of carers everywhere. The case has even excited the interest of the newspapers.
Should carers be paid the minimum wage during sleep-ins? There has been a wide range of academic opinion and conflicting cases. Some have argued that being paid the minimum wage whilst sleeping is outrageous. However, carers will rightly reply that they need be ready to wake up and provide support.
Some caselaw in the past supported the carers’ argument, saying that carers were entitled to the national minimum wage during sleep-ins, eg with night-watchmen, nurses answering non-emergency calls and care home managers. But the case of Tomlinson at the Court of Appeal has overturned them. The days of carers earning the minimum wage whilst they sleep are over.
Carers will now be classed as “available to work” under the National Minimum Wage Regulations. But they are not entitled to pay if “by arrangement” they sleep “at or near a place of work and are provided with suitable facilities for sleeping”. This would cover situations where someone is given a bed and told to sleep, but not ones where a mattress is put in an office and they are permitted to sleep.
So, what does this mean? Firstly, as we’ve already said carers will no longer be given the minimum wage whilst they sleep. Naturally, this will be seen as a source of frustration for many carers across the country as they are set to see their earning decrease significantly. But it’s good for charities such as Mencap and others that provide care, as the practice of paying a flat fee (£20 to £40) for a sleep-in has effectively been approved by the second-highest court in the land.
The courts haven’t completely removed the idea of carers being paid during sleep-ins. If carers are woken during the night then they are entitled to be paid for their work.
By Samuel Tahir
Image used under CC courtesy of Hugues.
Case report: Tomlinson-Blake v Mencap 2018 EWCA CiV 1641Read More
Pimlico Plumbers have unsuccessfully appealed to the Supreme Court to overturn the decision that Mr Smith, a plumber, had worker status (rather than being self-employed).
Mr Smith had been working with Pimlico Plumbers for around 6 years. He suffered a heart attack in January 2011, and asked Pimlico whether he could reduce his hours to work 3 days instead of 5 days a week. Pimlico in response refused his request, took away his van and dismissed him. He took Pimlico to the Employment Tribunal (ET), claiming he was (1) unfairly dismissed, (2) discriminated against on the grounds of his disability; and (3) that he was entitled to holiday pay (among other claims).
One of the key issues the ET had to consider was whether Mr Smith was an employee or a worker. The truly self-employed can’t bring discrimination claims.
Mr Smith’s contractual documentation stated that:
- He was an ‘independent contractor’;
- He was not obliged to accept work;
- He should complete a minimum of 40 hours a week;
- He must provide his own materials and tools; and
- He must drive a branded van, wear a uniform and carry an ID card.
In addition, Mr Smith was VAT registered, submitted invoices to Pimlico and filed his own tax returns.
The courts have constructed a number of tests to help them decided whether or not someone is an employee. There are 4 elements:
– An individual must have a contract (express or implied)
-An individual must carry out the work personally
-There has to be a ‘mutuality of obligation’ between the two parties
-The employer must have control over the work that the individual does.
The ET decided that Mr Smith wasn’t an employee, but he did have worker status (a kind of intermediate category between employee and self-employed).
Pimlico appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, and the Court of Appeal, however both appeals were unsuccessful. Pimlico then appealed to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court rejected Pimlico’s appeal because of its findings:
- There was personal service – Mr Smith’s contract clearly required him to perform the services personally to Pimlico; and
- Pimlico was not a client or customer of Mr Smith – Pimlico had an obligation to offer Mr Smith work when it was available, and he was contractually obliged to keep himself available to work up to 40 hours on five days each week for Pimlico’s assignments.
- Mr Smith’s contract stated that he could not accept work from customers or potential customers without their approval first – he was not in control.
This means that Mr Smith is entitled to holiday pay, to pursue his claim for disability discrimination in relation to his heart attack and areas of pay.
This area of employment status has been in legal flux for a long time, and this case doesn’t provide any further clarity. However it provides the latest warning to employers to fully evaluate the relationship between them and their staff when deciding whether staff are employees, self-employed or workers.
By Aneesha Ali-Khan
Image used under CC courtesy of Eli DukeRead More
Robert Jones (an employed Barrister at a law firm) has made a claim for breaching data protection laws, alleging that the firm accessed his personal emails over a period of several months.
This article looks into the facts of this case and give an explanation of the law in this area.
Mr Jones was an employed barrister at a law firm called Lexlaw. During his employment, he and a colleague exchanged messages (about kinky sex), detailing their preferences. There was an incident when he spanked this colleague over a desk at work. No immediate action was taken. Months later, Mr Jones got into a salary dispute with Lexlaw and resigned. When he refused to reconsider his resignation, Lexlaw suspended him for the spanking incident (an employee can be suspended during their notice period). Mr Jones resigned and took legal action against Lexlaw, alleging (among other things) that they had breached data protection laws by monitoring his emails.
Mr Jones said:
‘I had a consensual BDSM relationship with another employee, which included one brief incident in private on work premises months before the disciplinary. I was appalled to find out that my employer was monitoring my personal communications over a period of months and the ICO have confirmed that this is unlikely to have complied with the requirements of the Data Protection Act.’
Looking at the law
Under the new GDPR regime, employers must make it crystal clear to workers (1) how they might be monitored; and (2) why. They must have done an assessment ensuring the reasons are both justifiable and proportionate, which have legal definitions. Typically, employers deal with this by having a data policy.
The GDPR (the new piece of legislation that supersedes the Data Protection Act 1998) sets out rules about when monitoring should be carried out. For example it can be justified as necessary for someone’s ‘legitimate interests’ (when balanced against the rights and freedom that an individual has a right to expect).
This could mean recording retail workers at work to discourage shoplifting. In the context of employees’ emails, this means that mean monitoring to detect fraud, or for quality control. But it’s hard to see how this would apply to this employee. Few law firms see the need to delve into employee’s emails routinely. So this wouldn’t be justified. But if they do need to look into historic emails, for example to investigate a client complaint, then it would be acceptable to use anything incriminating that was found.
The hearing is set for 16 July 2018. It will be fascinating to see whether the law firm is judged to have breached data protection laws, and if so we expect the result to be far more than the few hundred pounds normally awarded, since these emails were of such an intimate nature.
By Aneesha Ali-Khan
Image used under CC courtesy of Dennis van der Heijden
We bring you the latest news from the employment tribunals and courts in this special update.
Employment cases to be streamed from the Court of Appeal
We learned today that the Appeal Court (which hears appeals from the Employment Appeals Tribunal) is considering televising its proceedings. It will run a trial in three courts in London (though not yet for tribunal cases).
The cases will be streamed on Youtube and we will be advising our clients with Birmingham employment tribunal cases to watch some cases because it shows them what to expect from a full trial, including cross-examination.
Live streaming is already available for the Supreme Court (formerly called the House of Lords) but there are no plans as yet to extend this to other venues such as the Birmingham Employment Tribunal.
Judge in the dock
In a separate development, we read that a judge has been charged with accessing court data on a case she was not involved in, for curiosity reasons. This is a breach of data protection laws and gross misconduct. We understand that the judge had a personal interest in the case. She faces a Crown Court trial and if convicted is likely to be fined and lose her career.
This case is of interest in light of this month’s GDPR listlation, which tightens the regulations on how companies should be storing and using personal data.
Of course, the book is being thrown at this criminal court judge, in light of who she is and the fact that she ought to know better. But it highlights that companies and their staff should all be aware of data laws and the importance of dealing with data correctly.
We have just produced a short guide to the changes in data laws for our EPS clients together with a one-stop document that covers them from all legal angles. Our EPS is a monthly HR subscription service for employers that acts as an outsourced HR department.Read More
16 businesses have recently been found to be in breach of immigration laws, as between them they employed 41 illegal workers. As a consequence, the businesses have been handed fines totalling £505,000 and 20 directors have been given disqualifications for six to seven years.
Cheryl Lambert, Chief Investigator at the Insolvency Service, said:
“Employing illegal workers is not consequence free … these directors sought an unfair advantage over their law-abiding competitors by employing people who were not entitled to work legally in the UK. It is bad for business and bad for society as a whole … the Government is pursuing bad employers.”
This is an illustration of the consequences employers can face if they do not ensure their workers are entitled to work in the UK. It is always useful for employers to include a contractual clause addressing the right to work in the UK in the contracts of employment, and to include a policy in the staff handbook so that businesses are reminded of their obligations. Additionally, Employers may wish to train all staff involved in recruitment to get the appropriate proof that new workers are entitled to work in the UK.
By Ryan WheatleyRead More
Training apprentices is a great way for employers to mould and develop their staff to cater for immediate business needs and shape the future of the business. Also, apprentices can help to reduce staff turnover as they have a tendency to be motivated and loyal to the employer that has provided them with the opportunity. Employers can also receive government funding for apprenticeship programs, which will obviously reduce costs. However, as much as an asset apprentices can be to businesses, employers should be wary of unintentionally granting an apprentice ‘common law’ status.
‘Common Law’ apprentices
For centuries, all the legal principles that dealt with apprenticeships were contained in case law (also known as common law). Apprentices who fall under the common law are beneficiaries of the legal principle that the essential purpose is training, with the production of work for their employer being secondary. Therefore as the primary purpose is training, such apprentices have heightened protection when it comes to dismissal (and indirectly, sanctions) compared to non-apprentice employees. This heightened protection applies in cases of misconduct, performance management and redundancy (common law apprentices are totally protected when it comes to redundancy).
The consequences of an illegitimate early termination include the employer paying out the former apprentice for loss of earnings for the remainder of their apprenticeship term. An employer may also be required to compensate the former apprentice for the diminution of their future prospects.
In 2008, the government wanted more apprentices, and removed the enhanced rights given to ‘common law’ apprentices so that apprentices could be dismissed like ordinary employees. It was at this time the concept of a statutory ‘apprenticeship agreement’ was born.
For employers to avoid granting an apprentice ‘common law’ status, they must ensure apprentices are given a statutory apprenticeship agreement. There are different types of apprenticeship agreement depending on whether the apprentice is doing a course that is an ‘approved standard’ or a ‘framework’. If the wrong type of apprenticeship agreement is given to an apprentice, the apprentice will be granted ‘common law’ status by default.
Therefore employers must carefully check the correct agreement is given to an incoming apprentice in order to prevent the apprentice getting the enhanced rights granted by them being of ‘common law’ status.
By Zahid Reza
Image used under CC courtesy of InstituteForApprenticeships
Following the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) shock revelation that Modern Slavery and Trafficking is affecting ‘every large town and city in the country’ and that the NCA’s previous estimates of 10,000 – 13,000 victims in the UK are the ‘tip of the iceberg’, a report by the University of Sheffield and the University of Bath has illuminated one of the main reasons why it is difficult to know the true scale of Modern Slavery and Trafficking in the UK.
The study focused on the food and construction sectors. The report found that whilst an increasing number of companies can accurately trace where their product comes from, many companies do not know the backgrounds of their workforce.
An owner of a UK hotel chain explained: “We have pretty much solved traceability of the food served in our restaurants. I can tell you the farm where the steak on your plate came from, probably even the name of the cow. But we have no idea where the workers came from that work in our kitchens.”
The report indicates that existing background checks are not ‘fit for purpose’ to uncover Modern Slavery and Trafficking. The researchers in this study concluded that the key is to understand and monitor the labour supply chain.
Professor Andrew Crane from the University of Bath says that if companies can find a way to trace their products, they can do the same with their workforce. He said “Twenty years ago most high street retailers did not have a clue where the products they sold actually came from. Since then, there has been a revolution in responsible business practices and companies have invested millions of pounds to trace the source of their products and tackle the myriad sustainability issues they found there. To prevent the misery of modern slavery from blighting our workforces companies must apply that same focus to their staff.”
It remains to be seen whether in light of this study, the government will take steps to ensure employers carry out a more thorough background check on workers before they commence employment.
By Zahid Reza
Image used under CC courtesy of Marissa Orton