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Employment Law Journal: April 2014

The forthcoming expansion in the right to request flexible working will create a new set of legal and practical challenges, warns Phil Allen

Today, flexible working arrangements are common in most workplaces and employment sectors. Employees can be engaged on an almost endless variety of patterns and terms. These include flexitime systems which allow employees broad variations in their working day and permanent individual arrangements allowing bespoke home-working or part-time working arrangements. With the forthcoming expansion of the right to request flexible working to all employees, we are likely to see even more requests for such arrangements and, almost inevitably, a greater proportion of employees will ultimately be engaged in a greater variety of ways.

Dominic Holmes considers recent case law developments on disability discrimination and dealing with mental impairments in the workplace

According to research conducted by the mental health charity Mind, one in five people has taken time off work with stress. For employers, work-related stress, depression and other mental health conditions can be tricky to handle. They are sometimes difficult to detect and difficult to manage appropriately (whether that means putting in place reasonable adjustments, planning a return to work from sickness absence or moving towards termination of employment). Often, the employer will be accused of causing the problem in the first place: long hours, excessive workloads, unreasonable expectations from line managers and bullying are all commonly cited as triggers for mental health problems.

Helen Burgess reviews a recent case on whether the termination of a fixed-term contract must inevitably be a redundancy dismissal

In a case that spells good news for employers using fixed-term contracts, the Court of Session has confirmed that the expiry of such contracts did not trigger a requirement to collectively consult with appropriate representatives.

Helen Cookson examines a recent Court of Appeal decision on the harmonisation of employees’ terms and conditions after a business transfer

What do you remember of 1985? Were you even born? It seems a long way off now – the year the first mobile phone call was made in the UK. It was also the year that the Court of Appeal gave its judgment in Berriman v Delabole Slate Ltd [1985]. The mobile phones may be smaller, but Berriman continues to shape the application of the UK’s legislation protecting employees on the transfer of an undertaking.

An employee who did not have a work permit will not be barred from bringing a claim under the Equality Act, reports Kate Barker

In Wijesundera v Heathrow 3PL Logistics [2013], the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has revisited the question of whether illegal workers should be permitted to bring discrimination claims.

Jo Pairman analyses the potential impact of a new scheme requiring Acas to be involved before claims can be issued in the employment tribunal

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) has provided free, voluntary pre-claim conciliation on issues such as unfair dismissal, discrimination and redundancy since 2009. In the year to 31 March 2011, such pre-claim conciliation was successful in 74% of cases, increasing to 78% the following year.

Eversheds

The future of fees for bringing a claim in the tribunal remains uncertain despite the failure of Unison’s judicial review proceedings, explains Geoffrey Mead

Unison’s challenge to the employment tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) fees regime has been unsuccessful, meaning that the system, introduced in July 2013, will remain as it stands, for the time being at least. However, the High Court left the door open to further challenge once the impact of fees on claim levels becomes clearer. That being the case, the long-term future of the fees regime is not yet secure.

The Court of Appeal has found that the wording of provisions in the Equality Act was a drafting error, write Kirsti Laird and Clare Davis

Since the introduction of the Equality Act 2010 (EqA), there has been considerable confusion and uncertainty as to whether the victimisation of former employees is unlawful or not. Subjecting a former employee to a detriment because they had raised a discrimination complaint (victimisation) had been unlawful under previous legislation and Parliament had no apparent intention to change this position. Nonetheless, the specific wording of the EqA appeared to remove the right to bring this claim.