FAQs: Settlement Agreements

This article is available as a downloadable pdf here.

Since Settlement Agreements were introduced in July this year, we have been receiving a lot of enquiries from employers about them. How do they differ from Compromise Agreement (if at all)? How does the without prejudice rule work with new Settlement Agreements Code of Practice? What is the best way of using them?

We thought it would be helpful to put together some FAQs to give guidance from an employer’s perspective. Read more

Is a requirement to work on Sundays religious discrimination?

Yet again, the intersection between employment law and religion has been in the headlines following the Eweida case earlier this year. The latest case, Mba v London Borough of Merton [2013], considered whether it was discriminatory for an employer to insist upon a Christian employee working on Sundays. Read more

Can an employer rely on Occupational Health report as to whether an employee is disabled?

Most employers would understandably feel that if they have taken specialist advice from Occupational Health, they would be entitled to rely on the advice they have been given. Unfortunately the case of Gallop v Newport City Council [2013] shows that this may not always be correct. Read more

In the red – political views of a Labour party activist accepted as a philosophical belief

The Equality Act 2010 protects employees from discrimination on the grounds of their religion or philosophical beliefs. Previously it was thought that this should not apply to political beliefs. However, the tide may have started to turn, particularly as following the Redfearn case earlier this year, employees are protected against unfair dismissal on the grounds of their political opinion (see our previous article here). In the recent case of Olivier v DWP (2013) the Tribunal was asked to consider whether an employee’s political views were capable of amounting to a philosophical belief and were therefore protected by discrimination laws. Read more

I’m a celebrity; don’t get me out of here! – John McCririck loses age discrimination case

Celebrity cases in the Employment Tribunals usually attract a lot of media attention.  The latest involved John McCririck, the former presenter of Channel 4 Racing, who lost his claim for age discrimination following a decision by Channel 4 not to retain him as a television presenter (John McCririck v Channel 4 Television Corporation and another (2013)). The Employment Tribunal decided that the decision not to retain Mr McCririck was because of his image and presenting style; not because of his age.

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Penalty? Dealing with repayment provisions

Employers often put provisions in contracts of employment requiring an employee to repay sums which the employer has spent on behalf of that employee. A common example is a requirement to repay the costs of a training course if the employee leaves their employment. Usually, these provisions operate for a fixed period, for example 12 months from completion of the course, and frequently the level of repayment is on a sliding scale, for example 100% repayment if they leave within 3 months of the course finishing, 75% if they leave between 3 and 6 months of the course finishing and so on.

These types of provisions are perfectly lawful and enforceable, provided that they are reasonable and do not operate in restraint of trade. For example, if an employer required repayment of a training course fee if the employee left their employment within 5 years of the end of the course, then that would almost certainly be unenforceable as it arguably would prevent, or at least penalise, the employee for leaving their employment. Read more

Employee fails to disclose disability and refuses consent to medical advice – can they still claim discrimination?

The recent case of Cox and Essex County Fire & Rescue [2013] dealt with a number of questions that we are often asked by employers. Do employees have an obligation to tell their employer if they suffer from a disability? And what happens when an employee refuses to consent to the employer obtaining a medical report?

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Extending time limits for Employment Tribunal claims

All claims in the Employment Tribunals have clear time limits attached to them. For example, a claim for unfair dismissal must be brought within 3 months of the date employment terminated. A discrimination claim must be brought within 3 months of the discriminatory act. However, there are circumstances in which an Employment Tribunal has discretion to extend the time limit so as to accept a claim after the original deadline has passed.

Recently the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) considered two appeals relating to time limits. The first concerned a decision to grant an extension in a claim for unfair dismissal and unlawful deductions (Norbert Dentressangle Logistics Limited v Mr Hutton (2013)). The second concerned a decision that a claim for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination was out of time (Robinson v Fairhill Medical Practice (2013)). Read more

Constructive dismissal – what’s the reason for the resignation?

In our experience, constructive dismissal is one of the most misunderstood areas of employment law. There is often confusion about what amounts to a dismissal or resignation and what it takes for an employee to be able to bring a claim. In particular, the recent case of Wright v North Ayrshire Council (2013) examined what happens where an employee has more than one reason for resigning, and whether this can mean that constructive dismissal does not apply. Read more

When does a resignation take effect?

If an employee resigns, when does the resignation take effect? Normally, the letter of resignation will make this clear, for example by giving a month’s notice, but what happens when the letter of resignation is silent on this?

This was the question considered by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in the recent case of Secretary of State for Justice v Hibbert [2013]. Read more

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