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Employment Law Journal: April 2017

Following the recent parliamentary inquiry into high heels and dress codes, Jonathan Iyer considers how employers can avoid sex discrimination when drawing up standards for personal appearance in the workplace

A dress code can have a number of benefits for an employer. It can allow it to communicate a corporate image or standardise its brand. It can help to instil trust and confidence in the business, projecting an image of professionalism and trustworthiness. Other considerations include health and safety and removing uncertainty about which items of clothing are, or are not, acceptable in a particular workplace environment. A dress code may also foster a culture of belonging.

Phil Allen looks at what employers can do about fraudulent or dishonest job applications

A senior NHS manager was recently given a two-year prison sentence for fraud and obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception, after lying about his qualifications to get a job. He fabricated parts of his work history and falsely claimed on his CV to have numerous qualifications (including two mythical PhDs), obtaining roles such as chief executive and the chair of an NHS trust. So how can employers guard against being misled by a job applicant and how can they deal with an employee who they later find out lied to get their job?

A recent European decision does not give employers carte blanche to ban symbols of Islamic faith in the workplace, warns Paul Kelly

The topic of dress in the workplace is one that only occasionally makes the headlines. But, when it does, it generates controversy. Do you remember DWP v Thompson [2004], in which a male employee unsuccessfully tried to show that requiring men to wear ties at work was discriminatory? More recently there was the case of Nicola Thorpe, who was sent home from work because, in contravention of her employer’s dress code, she was not wearing high heels (see article on p08).

Although their ability to strike may be curtailed, the trade unions appear to be finding new ways to challenge employers, argue Laura Garner and Will Winch

Last month, key provisions of the Trade Union Act 2016 (TUA) took effect against a backdrop of long-running rail strikes and a flurry of court cases brought by the unions.

The government is tightening up the tax arrangements that apply when public authorities hire workers through personal service companies, write Rebecca McGuirk and Anna Scott

On 6 April 2017, the current intermediaries legislation (which is also known as IR35) will apply to off-payroll working in the public sector. The changes are contained in the Social Security (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2017 and reflect legislation that will be inserted into the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003 (ITEPA) by the Finance Act 2017.

Claire Helling of Shoosmiths examines the potential legal issues for employers when extreme weather or industrial action prevent employees from travelling to work

The long-running Southern rail strikes have caused severe disruption for those without any alternative travel options and there have even been reports of people losing their jobs because they have been unable to get to work. The industrial action has now spread to the Northern and Merseyside rail networks, with storms and lines blocked by a collapsed wall and derailed freight train having added to commuters’ woes in recent months.

Jo Broadbent rounds up recent case law and developments affecting employers and their advisers