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February 2015 Employment Law Update

07-02-2015

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

UPDATE: Woolworths continued

On the 5 February 2015 the Advocate General delivered his opinion on the meaning of establishment for the purposes of the collective consultation obligations in redundancy situations. While the opinion is not binding on the ECJ, the good news for business is that the opinion confirms that “establishment” does not have to mean the whole undertaking: it should mean the unit that the workers are assigned to where they carry out their duties. The opinion also makes it clear that it is for the Member States to implement more favourable protection if they wish.   As the opinion does not have to be followed by the European Court of Justice when they issue their judgment on the issue later this year, we still have some time to wait until a final decision is made to clarify the position.
In the meantime, businesses should continue to aggregate their total redundancies across their whole business to determine whether the collective consultation obligations apply.

You can read more in Julie’s article for HR Review here

Increased compensation limits announced

The limit for a week’s pay will increase to £475 in calculating employment tribunal compensation awards for basic unfair dismissal, with effect from 6 April 2015.

In addition, the maximum compensation amount will increase to £78,335 or be 12 months’ pay, whichever is the lower amount.
£475 will also be the new rate for a weeks’ pay for the purpose of calculating statutory redundancy payments for redundancies taking effect on or after 6 April 2015.

LEGISLATION CHANGES:     Unpaid parental leave

Also with effect from the 6 April 2015, the right to unpaid parental leave will be extended to parents of children up to 18 years of age.

UPDATE: ET1 Claim form

The Ministry of Justice has issued an updated version of the on-line ET1 claim form used by employees to submit their claims to an employment tribunal. The form has been improved to include more guidance and a fee calculator. You can have a look here

Indirect Age Discrimination: the requirement to enter into a new employment contract was classified as a Provision, Criterion or Practice (“PCP”):

In a recent Employment Appeal Tribunal case, a company had introduced compulsory new contractual terms and conditions in an attempt to harmonise employment contracts across its workforce. Those who did not agree to sign such contracts, would be dismissed from the company.

The employee claimants argued that this process placed older workers at a clear disadvantage, who had previously benefited from the contractual rights being abolished. They argued that implementing the changes amounted to a PCP which was indirectly discriminatory against them and therefore prohibited by law.

However, while it was found that the process of imposes the changes could be regarded as a PCP, it was further held that the PCP was objectively justified and therefore their claim for discrimination failed. The EAT found that the decision of the tribunal was adequately reasoned and there were no less discriminatory alternatives of achieving the employer’s legitimate aim of reducing staff costs.

This case is a reminder of the need to take care in any process requiring changes to employee’s contracts of employment and that the definition of a PCP will be interpreted widely for the purposes of ensuring protection from discrimination.  It also highlights that tribunals will recognise that some changes can be objectively justified, but employers should take specific advice regarding these issues where necessary.

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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