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Employment Law Journal: July/August 2012

Despite the controversy surrounding Adrian Beecroft’s proposals to make it easier to sack under-performing employees, a number of his ideas may yet make it onto the statute books, report Richard Kenyon and Jennifer Platt

The publication of the previously leaked Beecroft Report in May 2012 generated some dramatic headlines and polarised comment. Vince Cable, the business secretary, described some of the proposals as ‘bonkers’ and Adrian Beecroft apparently retorted that Cable was a ‘socialist’ who has done ‘little to support business’. It is all too tempting to go for the man rather than just his ideas: Beecroft, the Aston Martin-driving asset stripper and pantomime villain, pontificating about easy and cheap ways of sacking poorly performing staff. The Report itself might be summed up as little more than a pamphlet of pet hates, unencumbered by anything that might reasonably be described as evidence or research and lacking a good proof read – the reference to the ‘Employment Rights Act 1976’ hardly inspires confidence in the quality of the product. Not all of these are cheap shots. The ‘Report’ is no more than a collection of initial ideas, rather than a set of conclusions derived from a thorough analysis.

A year after the UK’s tough new anti-corruption legislation took effect, Beth Hale and David Hamilton examine its effect on offering corporate hospitality

There are no gold medals for guessing which event will get more attention but July 2012 marks not just the start of the Olympic Games but also the first anniversary of the introduction of the Bribery Act 2010 (the Act). As UK and foreign businesses gear up for a fortnight of corporate entertainment at the world’s premier sporting event, it is an appropriate time to take stock and assess the Act’s first year. In this article, we revisit the Act’s principal provisions and summarise the issues employment lawyers need to bear in mind as their clients seek to jump the hurdles set up by the Act during London 2012 and once the final torch is out.

The Court of Appeal has criticised employers for suspending employees as soon as a complaint is made, without considering whether this is really justified, write Andrew Granger and Chris Cooper

A recent Court of Appeal case has provided helpful clarification on an employer’s duty to think carefully before suspending an employee or referring matters to the police. It also highlights the importance of acting ‘reasonably’ in disciplinary cases where the consequences for an employee’s career could be at stake.

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Shah Qureshi and Emma Webster analyse a recent ruling that will make it easier for workers in the entertainment and service sectors to claim that they have employment rights

In a recent decision, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has shed some light on how an employment contract can be found in many varied situations. Quashie v Stringfellows Restaurants Ltd [2012] is likely to have an impact on those working in all sectors of the entertainment and service industry, including dancers, club workers, call-centre workers, musicians and actors who work regularly for the same companies. The question of whether ‘workers’ under this type of contract are employees is important in that, if they are, it could lead to thousands of workers enjoying employment protection and rights.

The Court of Appeal has killed off arguments that the European Convention on Human Rights applies to dismissal processes, explains Charlotte Stern

Since the decision in Mattu v The University Hospitals of Coventry & Warwickshire NHS Trust [2012] was handed down on 18 May 2012, you have almost been able to hear the ripple of applause from public sector employers around the country. The case represents a significant shift in public sector employees’ rights at disciplinary hearings. In essence, the Court of Appeal’s judgment means that Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) does not apply to an employer’s exercise of a contractual power to terminate employment by summary dismissal.

Joanna Mason and Sinead Clancy assess a recent High Court judgment which considered the extent to which liability to provide early-retirement benefits transfers on a private business sale

In a recent case, the High Court considered, for the first time, the scope of the so-called ‘Beckmann and Martin ’ rights to early-retirement benefits which transfer on the sale of a business under the transfer of undertakings legislation. The extent to which liability to provide these benefits transfers to the buyer in a business sale has been a long-standing point of uncertainty in private UK mergers and acquisitions. This article explains the background to Beckmann and Martin rights, summarises the key points from the High Court’s judgment in The Procter & Gamble Company v Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget SCA & anor [2012] and considers the practical implications arising from the case.

A recent ruling means that employees may receive greater protection if they bring a claim based on the transfer of an undertaking rather than a change in service provider, argue Peter Sharp and Jill Turner

In this time of economic uncertainty, practitioners did at least appear able to offer clients some clarity about who should transfer when there is a service provision change. However, there has been a spate of recent cases in the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) on this contentious issue that indicates that we may not enjoy that certainty any longer (see ELJ130, p22).

David Ashmore considers the impact of a recent Court of Appeal decision on the Boston Deep Sea Fishing principle

In defending a claim for damages for wrongful dismissal, an employer is entitled to justify the dismissal by relying on information that only came to its attention after the employee was dismissed. This principle, together with many of the basic principles governing the dismissal of employees for gross misconduct, was confirmed in Boston Deep Sea Fishing and Ice Co v Ansell [1888] and has been applied in both an employment context and more broadly in commercial disputes, for the past 124 years.