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Employment Law Journal: March 2011
Fieldfisher

The EAT has shed light on what is a fair method for choosing which potentially redundant employee to appoint to a newly created job, reports Jenna Clarke

As advisers, we are all too aware that recent economic uncertainty has resulted in numerous reorganisations and, sadly, redundancies. The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show that approximately 157,000 people were made redundant in the UK during the July to September quarter of 2010. This was up 14,000 from the previous quarter. The Employment Tribunal Service has seen a correlated increase in redundancy related claims. Claims of unfair dismissal and breach of contract and for redundancy pay rose by 17% from 2008/09 to 2009/10. Given the Conservative-led government’s austerity measures, public sector job cuts and the potential effect on the private sector, such claims only look set to increase further. Now, more than ever, it is important that employers ensure that they follow the correct process when making employees redundant.

The government’s consultation document on resolving workplace disputes gives Esther Smith a distinct sense of déjà vu

In January 2011 the government published a consultation document, Resolving Workplace Disputes, focusing on the current UK tribunal system and how this might be changed to deal better with workplace disputes. The consultation paper has been driven by a 56% increase in the number of claims being presented to the Tribunal Service, taking total numbers last year to around 256,000. There are many criticisms of the current system, ranging from the perception that the system cannot cope with the workload, to the view cited by many employers that the system is skewed in favour of employees and serves only to cost employers money. The current system’s inability to provide a proper mechanism for handling what are often perceived as vexatious or frivolous claims is also a complaint heard in the waiting rooms of employment tribunals across the land.

Caroline Stroud and Charlotte Stafford investigate how the ending of the right to retire employees automatically at 65 will affect employers

On 13 January 2011 the government confirmed its proposals to phase out, and eventually abolish, the UK default retirement age (DRA) meaning that the right to retire employees automatically at 65 will cease to exist. The change will be made by way of the Employment Equality (Repeal of Retirement Age Provisions) Regulations 2011 (the Regulations), a draft of which was published on 17 February 2011. The Regulations will come into force on 6 April 2011.

In light of the recent civil unrest in the Middle East, Stephen Ravenscroft and Helen Mulligan look at employers’ obligations towards staff working in troubled regions abroad

In times of sudden crisis employers face many practical difficulties regarding their obligations towards employees and how best to discharge those obligations. Examples of the types of situations that have affected the safety and mobility of employees in the recent past include the swine flu pandemic and the disruption caused by the volcanic ash cloud across Northern Europe. Given the recent civil unrest in Tunisia, Egypt and other parts of the Middle East, there is a renewed focus on how employers can ensure the safety of their employees who are either based in or required to travel to troubled regions for work purposes.

Andrew Taggart and Sarah Hitchins consider the circumstances in which employees of varying seniority may be obliged to reveal their own wrongdoing

It is well established that some employees may have a duty to disclose the wrongdoing of their colleagues (including those who are more senior or junior than themselves). However, whether an employee is obliged to disclose their own wrongdoing is much more uncertain and has been the subject of an increasing amount of judicial debate, especially in the recent spate of ‘team move’ cases.

Turbervilles

The EAT has extended the protection available to employees who work in the UK for a foreign company, explains Mandeep Kalsi

Question: how far does the territorial jurisdiction of the employment tribunal extend? Answer: further than ever if you look at the spate of cases in which the UK courts have shown an increased willingness to extend the territorial reach of UK employment legislation.

As calls grow for interns to be paid, David Green examines what legal responsibilities employers have towards young people on work experience

Following the Daily Mail’s report that presenter Vanessa Feltz had ‘bullied a work experience girl to tears’, the BBC has launched an investigation into abuse of work-experience opportunities by senior employees. It has stressed that this incident occurred outside its normal work-experience programme, under which placements are given on merit, as it was arranged privately through Ms Feltz’s daughter. So, what rights do those on work experience actually have? Is it an opportunity for the individual to gain valuable experience and contacts or a means of cheap labour, often with no financial reward or redress if they are badly treated? From the employer’s point of view, what are the benefits and what are the legal risks of taking on these individuals?