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Employment Law Journal: October 2014

Julian Yew looks at a recent case in which an employee continued to be bound by his contract even though the employer was no longer required to pay him

Specific performance is a remedy whereby the courts compel a party who is in breach of contract to perform a specific act required under that contract. It is rarely granted in the case of employment contracts, however, as the courts are reluctant to impose positive obligations in an agreement for personal services. The doctrine was recently considered in Sunrise Brokers LLP v Rodgers [2014], in which an employee continued to be bound by his contract despite having resigned.

A recent EAT decision has provided welcome clarity about how to determine when a TUPE transfer took place, explains Jeffrey Jupp

The precise date of a business transfer can be an issue of great significance. In Housing Maintenance Solutions Ltd (HMS) v McAteer [2014], the employment tribunal had held that a transfer occurred on 9 June 2011 and not, as the transferee, HMS, had contended, on 1 July. This exposed HMS to very substantial claims for unlawful deductions from wages and protective awards for approximately 200 employees. Some of these claims would have been avoided and others reduced if the later date was the correct date of the transfer.

Stuart Jones examines the risks that employers face if staff take part in campaigns like the ice bucket challenge at work

This summer, the ice bucket challenge has been the latest internet craze to sweep the globe in the name of charity. The phenomenon is not over yet and may give rise to copycat campaigns. Participants from every walk of life, from pop stars to politicians, have volunteered for a soaking. Even employment lawyers, badgered by their children, have taken part. I speak from experience!

A recent tribunal decision has given some clues on how to tackle the payment of employees on shared parental leave, reports Claire Hollins

A highly publicised and potentially significant employment tribunal decision has given some guidance to employers and their advisers on what to pay employees when they take additional paternity leave. The decision is also relevant for those employers considering what to pay employees taking shared parental leave when it comes into force next year.

Emily Plosker and Rolleen McDonnell analyse a ruling that an employer was bound by a wrongly worded letter about a pay rise

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has recently held that a letter wrongly notifying employees of a pay increase was legally binding on an employer, even though the consultant who sent it had no authority to make a decision about pay.

Sarah Keeble and Mark Stroud review three recent age discrimination cases

Since the abolition of the default retirement age on 6 April 2011, dismissing an individual who is at or approaching retirement amounts to direct age discrimination pursuant to s13(1) of the Equality Act 2013. However, unlike direct discrimination on the basis of the other protected characteristics, direct age discrimination can be objectively justified under s13(2). If an employer can demonstrate that the treatment was ‘a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’, a claim will fail. This defence can therefore dramatically hamper an individual’s ability to bring a successful age discrimination claim under the UK regime. But how has the justification defence been interpreted by the courts?

With no clear incentive for employers and employees to enter into genuine settlement discussions, James Watkins, Kathryn Clapp and Rachel Farr question how effective the new early conciliation regime will be

Perhaps the most intriguing of the radical changes to the employment tribunal system introduced under the coalition government is the recent introduction of mandatory early conciliation. Prospective claimants have been required since 6 May 2014 to refer a complaint to Acas for early conciliation before they instigate employment tribunal proceedings. The primary objective of this measure is to encourage dialogue between the parties at the very outset of a dispute before it reaches litigation, with the aim of reducing the burden on employment tribunals. Any claim lodged in an employment tribunal must now include a unique early conciliation certificate number, and without this reference the claim will not be permitted to proceed.

A recent survey has revealed the impact of business size and employee age on levels of discrimination in the workplace, writes Tina Wisener

Recent research carried out on behalf of employment solicitors Doyle Clayton reveals the truth of the popular saying ‘small is beautiful’ when it comes to levels of workplace discrimination. The research, which considered how a business’s size can affect the level of discrimination experienced and witnessed, revealed that micro businesses (those employing between one and nine people) are the least discriminatory places to work.