5 Important Employment Law Cases In 2016

There have been approximately up to five significant employment law cases in 2016 that have potential consequences for other employers and similar cases. Setting a precedent, as these cases do, means a representative may use these cases as evidence that a tribunal should act in the same way.

  1. Misconduct Dismissal

The case Metroline West Ltd v Ajaj is a good case for employers who suspect that an employee is faking illness. The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) confirmed that employees who make up or exaggerate the effects of injuries or illness to take sick leave can be dismissed for misconduct.

This means that dismissals for fraudulent sick leave must be based on reasonable grounds and following investigation, but still applies for employees “pulling a sickie”.

  1. Employment Law Regarding Commission and Holiday Pay

The EAT’s decision in Lock and another v British Gas Trading Ltd (No.2) is another instalment in the cases surrounding the calculation of holiday pay. Both EAT and the employment tribunal stated that that Working Time Regulations 1998 employment law may be read to mean that employers must take commission into account when calculating holiday pay.

Back in October of 2016 the Court of Appeal held that the EAT was correct to uphold the employment tribunal’s decision.

  1. Monitoring Employees’ Social Media

The Romanian case Barbulescu v Romania was examined by the ECHR (the European Court of Human Rights). An engineer was fired under employment law for using a messenger service to contact his family and professional contacts. He challenged the employer’s dismissal as a violation of the Human Rights Convention.

The ECHR stated that the employer’s actions were correct as they had the right to check if their property was being used for work and personal purposes. The case is now due to be heard at the Grand Chamber at the end of November 2016, so it will be interesting to see the verdict and what effect this could have on other employees.

  1. Reasonable Adjustments for Disabled People

When considering reasonable adjustments for disabled employees, working hours should also be considered by the employer. In Carreras v United First Partners Research, an employee who is disabled believed he was at a disadvantage as there was an expectation to work late, though it wasn’t formally stated anywhere.

The EAT held that working late can be considered as a disadvantage as a matter of employment law, even if there is no direct instruction for the employee to do so. In the real world, it is possible for employers to put pressure on employees to work late even if there is no official written rule or instruction.

  1. Childcare vouchers during maternity leave

HMRC has traditionally advised employers that it is unlawful to suspend childcare vouchers scheme membership during maternity leave and require this as a condition for joining. In Peninsula Business Services Ltd v Donaldson, Peninsula childcare voucher’s scheme was challenged because employees were asked to agree to suspend their membership during maternity leave.

The EAT overturned an employment tribunal’s decision that this scheme was discriminatory. The EAT decided that employers making deductions from an employee’s salary in exchange for childcare vouchers do not have to continue to provide vouchers during maternity leave.

Current employment cases are always a good thing to follow for employers as they can provide valuable precedent for other cases and can point out areas of employment law that employers may need to keep up with.

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