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Employment Law Journal: May 2015

Legislation passed just before Parliament was dissolved ahead of the general election contains a number of important employment law provisions, reports Lauren Pullen-Stanley

After much debate, the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 (the Act) received Royal Assent on 26 March 2015. The Act received cross-party support during its passage through Parliament. It covers a number of legislative reforms, many of which are aimed at enhancing the transparency of UK companies and increasing trust in the UK as a place to do business and invest. Of particular interest to employers is Part 11 of the Act, which contains a number of employment law reforms on various topics.

Three recent cases have highlighted the difficulties employers face if they wish to make a unilateral variation to employees’ terms and conditions, writes Sarah Parkin

Changing terms and conditions of employment is a notoriously difficult issue for employers and their advisers. It may be good practice for employers to seek employee consent to any proposed changes, particularly those that are significant. However, they are normally advised to see if there is a unilateral variation clause in the contract of employment which would allow them to impose the changes they wish to make.

The EAT seems to be making it harder than ever to advise employers on what amounts to unlawful disability discrimination, argues Phil Allen

A series of recent cases on disability discrimination has reminded me of what I was taught at university. As idealistic students, we would argue in tutorials that each case should be decided correctly on its facts, while our sage tutor would tell us that what people really wanted was certainty in the law.

Helen Cookson analyses a recent EAT case concerning dismissal for misuse of public funds

With the general election campaigns in full swing, politicians’ accountability over public funds and spending is a particularly pertinent issue. Local authorities and schools must spend public money in the most efficient way and, significantly, not be seen to be wasting funds. The question raised in Anderson v Chesterfield High School [2015] was whether a local authority was entitled to dismiss an elected executive mayor who was in paid employment at a state school despite providing no services to that school. The local authority argued that:

In light of the controversy surrounding Jeremy Clarkson’s sacking, Glenn Hayes explains how to ensure a dismissal for misconduct is fair

It is difficult to write about Jeremy Clarkson’s removal from Top Gear in anything approaching neutral tones. He is a man who divides the nation: his fans see him as the irreverent, controversial host of the BBC’s most lucrative export – the Top Gear trade mark and programme. In equal measure, his detractors see him as the boorish man who takes delight in offending anyone who does not share his particular passion for cars.

Dechert LLP

Charles Wynn-Evans examines a recent Supreme Court decision considering a challenge to an employer’s decision under provisions in an employment contract providing for the employer to determine a matter in its opinion

Employment lawyers will be familiar with the limitations that the common law places on employers’ exercise of contractual discretions in the employment relationship, particularly when making discretionary bonus awards. A well-known line of cases has implied a term into the contract of employment to the effect that an employer must not determine a contractual but discretionary bonus award irrationally, perversely, arbitrarily or otherwise than in good faith (Horkulak v Cantor Fitzgerald International [2004], Clark v Nomura International plc [2000] and Clark v BET plc [1997]).

Makbool Javaid and Heather Hacking consider the conflict between employees’ right to express themselves and their responsibilities to their employer

The battle for freedom of expression has been in the headlines following both the Charlie Hebdo attack and the increased use of social media as a forum to express views. Questions about the extent of the right to free speech continue to reverberate both nationally and internationally. This article explores the issue of freedom of expression in the context of the employer/employee relationship.