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December 2012 Employment Law Newsletter

09-12-2012

If you would like to discuss any employment issues please contact Julie Taylor on 01635 508181

1.    More fun with Facebook: A warning for Employers

The High Court has determined that an employee who was demoted after posting a comment on his Facebook page concerning gay marriage was wrongfully dismissed. This highlights that employees who express views on their clearly personal and non-work related Facebook page, in their own time are unlikely to be found either to have brought their employer into disrepute or to have failed to treat colleagues with dignity and respect. Interestingly, this seems to be the case even if such comments can be seen by their colleagues and even if their personal Facebook page identifies the name of their employer and their job title.

Therefore, employers need to be wary of coming down too hard when disciplining staff over social media use in their personal time and should take advice where necessary..

2.    The reformation is coming: new flexible working plans have been announced!

The Government has plans to introduce a new system of shared flexible parental leave and to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees.

The proposed system of shared flexible parental leave is expected to be introduced in 2015 and will allow parents to choose how they share childcare responsibilities in the first year after a child’s birth. In summary:

3.    Political belief & discrimination: UK employees should have protection

The European Court of Human Rights has found that the UK does not provide adequate protection from dismissal on the grounds of political party membership and this is likely to mean that the protection for “religion and belief” included in the Equality Act will be interpreted widely to provide protection or the Government could amend the legislation specifically. Therefore, employers should exercise caution if there is a risk their actions could be interpreted as treating staff less favourably by reason of their political beliefs and should be prepared to justify any decision that is at risk of this interpretation.

4.    UPDATE: fixed-term workers & discrimination

The European Court of Justice has determined that the Fixed Term Work Directive, which aims to prevent fixed-term workers from receiving less favourable treatment than comparable permanent employees, applies even after such workers have permanent status. This means disregarding earlier time served under fixed-term contracts could be discriminatory and would require objective justification. Therefore, employers should not treat fixed-term workers less favourably than permanent staff unless there are good reasons for doing so and they can be justified.

Please note that these comments are intended to summarise some of the employment issues of the moment, not to provide detailed legal advice, so if you need assistance with any employment issues you may have please contact Julie Taylor on: 01635 508181 or  [email protected]
Follow Julie on Twitter: @JulieT_GL


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