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Employment Law Journal: March 2015

Tom Kerr-Williams asks whether the UK has too much labour market regulation, too little or whether it is just about right

Benjamin Disraeli is commonly believed to have said: ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.’ Today, the origin of the phrase is in doubt, but whoever said it might add to that list global labour market data.

Chris Tutton analyses the advocate general’s opinion in the Woolworths case

In 2013, an Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) decision greatly increased the likelihood that redundancies across a business would trigger complex collective redundancy consultation obligations and, in doing so, created much uncertainty. In USDAW v WW Realisation 1 Ltd (in liquidation) (otherwise known as the Woolworths case), the EAT decided that European law required businesses to aggregate all redundancies across their business over a 90-day period when assessing whether the threshold of 20 redundancies was met for collective consultation purposes.

In light of recent case law, Stephanie Creed considers ways to minimise the risk of reputational damage to organisations from comments posted online by employees

As employers and employees alike increasingly use social media as a business tool, so the line between public and private becomes ever more blurred. Twitter is a particularly good example of this. In 2007, 400,000 tweets were posted each quarter; by 2012, over 100 million users were posting over 340 million tweets per day. It is now not only a social networking service, but a professional and business tool which can form an integral part of a business’s brand and strategy.

As mobile working grows in popularity, it is not always easy to say where an employee is based, which can cause difficulties on dismissal, explains Julian Yew

Under s139 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA), there are four types of redundancies, of which two concern the place of work. A redundancy may arise where, for example, the employer has ceased, or intends to cease, to carry on its business in the place where the employee was employed (s139(1)(a)(ii) ERA). While this provision may seem relatively straightforward, there has not been any established legal authority on the issue of mobile employees.

The latest decision on employing workers who live overseas shows that there are no easy answers to whether they can bring a claim in the UK employment tribunal, warns Kevin McCavish

Technological advances are leading to the increased globalisation of workforces. Only ten years ago, an employee who wished to emigrate would hand in their notice, have a leaving party and, perhaps, keep in touch with old work colleagues through e-mail. More recently, there has been a trend for such employees to continue working for their UK employer while living abroad. Many of us can see the attraction of working this way, both for employers who retain key skills and experience and for employees who want to experience a new lifestyle.

Gary Freer examines a case in which the employer dismissed a senior manager for misconduct only after actively looking for a pretext to do so

In Williams v Leeds United Football Club [2015], a High Court judge (Lewis J) considered whether circulating pornography by email justified summary dismissal. An interesting aspect of the decision was that the evidence of misconduct was unearthed during a trawl by the employer for evidence which might give grounds for dismissal after it had already decided to dismiss the employee come what may. Did that make a difference?

Richard Nicolle discusses the latest proposals aimed at removing cultural barriers to reporting wrongdoing

Over the past year, there has been an increased focus on the issue of whistleblowing. A raft of reports and consultations has sought to encourage a cultural change so that instead of organisations perceiving the reporting of malpractice as an impediment to profit, they actively encourage or even celebrate ‘speaking up’.

Sharon Tan and Richard Cook look at the importance of clear documentation for start-up companies following a Court of Appeal decision

In the fast paced world of start-up companies, formal documentation recording the founders’ agreed working practices is often ascribed little importance. There are much more pressing matters to consider, such as securing investment, building a client base and generating the company’s early revenues. Each of the founders usually has a material interest in the business and the risk of one of them asserting employment rights (as opposed to rights stemming from the more keenly negotiated shareholders’ agreement or articles of association) is usually presumed to be relatively low, or given no thought at all.