By Dónall Breen - 28 March 2018
A tongue-in-cheek review of the weird and wonderful employment law news from the UK and around the world
We always recommend employers follow proper process when giving notice of termination, but unfortunately this never reached the desk of Donald Trump. After all, he did fire Rex Tillerson by tweet. As poor Rex doesn’t have Twitter, the notice of termination tweet had to be printed and given to him in person. Sad. Here in the UK, notice is not effective until it is given and effectively communicated to the employee. Mr Trump, with his 50 million followers, could certainly claim he passed the ‘effectively communicated’ aspect of the test.
Safe from Mr Trump’s tweets however is the employee of Cambridge Analytica who blew the whistle on a number of alleged legal breaches regarding work carried out for Trump’s campaign team. As a whistleblower, he enjoys wide protection from detriment resulting from his disclosure and can claim uncapped damages in the employment tribunal if he brings a claim.
Which if he does, may take a little longer than usual. ACAS, the employment tribunal’s early conciliation service, has reported a considerable rise in notifications since employment tribunal fees were abolished in July last year. This has confirmed the anecdotal accounts of several employment practitioners who have seen waiting times steadily increase since the Unison case.
Knowing all about this waiting times is Jess Varnish, former cyclist with Team GB, who has had her case pushed back to December. She is bringing a claim in the employment tribunal that she was in fact an employee during her time on the team. The potentially significant claim could see British cycling opting to use Deliveroo cyclists in upcoming games to avoid worker status issues.
Other athletes not happy right now are footballers, who seem to be getting all the wrong press lately. Pundit Jamie Carragher has been suspended by Sky for spitting at a fan’s car and player Darren Gibson has been suspended from Sunderland after being charged with drink driving. Suspending an employee is generally a recommended response to these types of incidents, giving you the time and space to perform a proper investigation and consider your options. But be careful, leaving employees out in the cold for too long can amount to constructive dismissal.
Speaking of the cold, did anyone else notice the few snowflakes around recently? With Britain grinding to a halt, many employees were left salty after being told by their employers would not pay for days they did not come to work due to the snow. KFC (the chicken shop temporarily sans chicken), was also faced with this problem when the shortage meant some outlets had to close. Although employers don’t have to pay for days on which employees are not required to work, good workforce relations is not always about choosing the legally permissible option.
Not left with a lot of options are the over 2,000 employers who still need to publish their gender pay gap. As expected, those who have published their figures have provided ample fodder to the media for stories of systemic inequality. Impartially reporting these statistics were the BBC, who in turn found themselves in hot water over claims of male staff being paid considerably more than their female counterparts. Although pay gap reporting and equal pay are actually two different things, they are often confused and reported together.
Finally, distinguishing between two different things can be surprisingly difficult - as the retail sector is finding out. Are warehouse workers and shop floor workers two differently valued jobs for equal pay purposes? If you know the answer, please contact Morrisons who have joined the supermarket sweep of Tesco, Sainsburys and Asda in facing mass equal pay claims in a wave of private sector actions. With the value of these claims running into the millions, many private sector employers are cautiously looking at how these claims will play out.
Let’s hope this doesn’t affect operations over the next few days so we can all feast on an unhealthy supply of chocolate. Happy Easter from all here at GQ|Littler.