Last updateTue, 24 Feb 2015 5pm

Mark Levine and Laura Ford consider whether the tribunals are becoming more willing to accept claims that an employee’s beliefs have been infringed

In 2003 the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations were introduced. The Regulations sought to protect against discrimination by reason of any religion, religious belief or (initially) similar philosophical belief.

Old mistakes made when disciplining employees can come back to bite employers if they later decide to dismiss, caution Nicholas Robertson and Karen Stewart

Two recent Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) decisions, Davies v Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council [2011] and Sakharkar v Northern Foods Grocery Group Ltd t/a Fox’s Biscuits [2011], have highlighted the dangers inherent in failing to ensure that disciplinary procedures are fairly and reasonably applied at all stages of the disciplinary process, not just at the dismissal stage. In circumstances where an employer gets it wrong along the way, it will not be saved in any subsequent unfair dismissal proceedings by an employee’s failure to appeal any sanction imposed. Prudent employers will review previous warnings where these are being relied upon to justify dismissal, while employees will have greater scope to challenge the fairness of some dismissals.

James Humphery analyses a recent ruling on whether it was fair to dismiss an employee in the mistaken belief that she was working illegally

In Kurumuth v NHS Trust North Middlesex University Hospital [2011] the Employment Appeal Tribunal decided that the employment tribunal should not make a definitive decision about an employee’s immigration status. This is an unremarkable proposition but some commentators have suggested that it gives employers a green light to dismiss employees with uncertain immigration status, allowing them to err safely on the side of caution to avoid the fines that come with a breach of the immigration rules.

Sarah Dunkley examines the legal pitfalls that employers face when taking on new staff

Employment lawyers often focus on developments and case law dealing with the termination of employment as this is usually where most difficulties arise. However, recent changes in the laws on discrimination, immigration and the ability to carry out background checks mean that employers also need to act carefully when recruiting new staff. This article summarises key recent developments.

Nicola Ihnatowicz discusses whether public service employees’ pay and conditions will deteriorate following the removal of guidelines on central and local government outsourcing

On 13 December 2010, the Cabinet Office announced the withdrawal of the provisions commonly known as the Two-Tier Code as they applied to central government contracts. Shortly afterwards, on 21 March 2011, the secretary of state for communities and local government announced the withdrawal of the equivalent provisions for local government.

New HMRC rules could be used by employers as a negotiating tool when making payments to departing executives, reports Ann Casey

On 6 April 2011, the Income Tax (Pay As You Earn) Regulations 2003 were amended, introducing the ‘0T’ tax code to be applied in certain circumstances, including payments made to ex-employees after a P45 has been issued. This affects employees who receive taxable termination payments after they receive their P45. A taxable termination payment is either one that is a contractual payment that is taxable (such as a contractual payment in lieu of notice), or is a non-contractual ex-gratia termination payment above the £30,000 exemption. This change does not affect the general tax treatment of termination payments and the £30,000 exemption.

In OTG v Barke, the EAT has clarified the application of TUPE to pre-pack administrations, as Suzanne Horne explains

Any lawyer who has ever advised on the employment law aspects of a pre-packaged sale in administration knows that these are transactions that are negotiated quickly and typically concluded late at night. Yet despite this palpable sense of urgency, employment lawyers need to give clear advice on what happens to any employees of the business and the inherent duties, risks and liabilities. A key element of this advice depends upon whether the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE) apply to the pre-pack process and administrations under Schedule B1 of the Insolvency Act 1986. In five appeals listed together and referred to below as OTG Ltd v Barke & or s [2011], the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has now held that TUPE does apply to pre-pack sales because it applies to all administrations.

Marc Jones and Mandeep Kalsi investigate the increasing use of the PHA in workplace bullying claims

The Equality Act 2010 provides a mechanism for employees to pursue claims of harassment against the harasser as an individual and the employer (on grounds of vicarious liability). However, the harassment must be related to a relevant protected characteristic, namely age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage or civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race, religion or belief; or sex or sexual orientation. If there is no link between the harassment and a protected characteristic, this precludes the employee from pursuing a claim under the Act and allows the employer to escape liability for the actions of the perpetrator, its employee.