By Mark Callaghan - 26 August 2021
Welcome to the (newly rebooted) employment law round up, an excuse to look at recent employment HR and labour issues from a not-so-legal angle.
First up this month, it was notable to see further battlelines drawn on the issue of continued remote work. An unnamed minister sparked controversy by suggesting that civil servants should be paid less than those in the office, given the savings that they are currently making on their commuting costs. The comments were swiftly rebutted by the Business Secretary, but the debate on post-pandemic remuneration for remote office workers does seem to be a here to stay. The biggest US tech companies are solving this puzzle in different ways, although it’s worth noting that employees know firmly where their bread is buttered, with Total Jobs reporting a 40% rise in searches for roles offering a remote option, and some workers stating that they’d rather quit than stop working remotely. Expect this issue to remain relevant for the first few years of the post-Covid world.
In sunnier news, Ocado and Bumble have both been working hard to allow their employees some time away from home, with the former offering staff the option to work abroad for one month a year, and the latter jumping on the unlimited holiday bandwagon (although, is that such a good thing? This thoughtful article from the CEO of a HR-focussed employer explores the issues…). And speaking of food for thought, this fascinating article (from a US perspective but with some universal applicability) offers some thoughts on the disadvantages faced by mothers in the workplace.
In an altogether more comfortable line of work, Lionel Messi found himself without a job this month for a short period of time, falling foul of some stringent league rules in Spain and some ‘economic and structural obstacles’ faced by his old employer, Barcelona. Luckily for Leo, he soon found alternative employment, and a cool €25m salary, in France, thereby making it very clear that he would not be playing for free (as some had suggested he should). As always, folks, a reduction in salary normally must be agreed between the employee and the employer.
Part of Messi’s new salary is reportedly being paid in cryptocurrency tokens – another trend that might currently seem quirky (or downright confusing, depending on your perspective) but may soon hit the mainstream throwing up all sorts of new interesting challenges.
One employee who certainly deserves a bonus (crypto or otherwise) is this airline attendant who humorously explained his, erm, unique approach to passenger safety when restraining a violent passenger. Sadly, the video turned out to be satire. But whilst we’re on the subject, did you know there is considerabl legal ambiguity over who owns the space on a flight? (isn’t this meant to be about employment law? Yes, sorry!...)
Some actual law to finish, if you insist: two Tribunals came to slightly different conclusions on whether a redundancy dismissal was fair when the furlough scheme was available as a means to mitigate the financial impact of Covid last year. The decisions, taken together, appear to suggest that a dismissal may be unfair if an employer didn’t consider furloughing staff at all, but where the employer had considered that possibility and dismissed it, then that is a matter for them (provided the decision is reasonable). Interesting news as the furlough scheme winds down and perhaps 1 in 5 employers plan to cut jobs.
I think that wraps it up for this month. Enjoy what’s left of the summer, wherever you’re working from…