Vegetarianism not a Protected Belief under the Equality Act
In Conisbee V Crossley Farms and ors, the tribunal had to consider whether vegetarianism was capable of being a philosophical belief and as such capable of protection under the Equality Act 2010. The Act refers to a philosophical belief as having the following criteria: the belief must be genuinely held and not a mere opinion or viewpoint on the present state of information available; the belief must be a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour; the belief must attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance and be worth of respect in a democratic society; and the belief must be compatible with human dignity and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others. (more…)

In Raj V Capita Business Services and another, the Claimant alleged that on several occasions, while at his desk, the team leader, a woman, stood behind him and massaged his neck, shoulders and back. He brought, amongst other actions, a claim for harassment under the Equality Act.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the tribunal’s decision that while it was unwanted conduct which had the effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment (the first part of the test under the Act), it was neither related to sex or sexual in nature and therefore not harassment for the purposes of a claim.  In reaching its conclusion, the tribunal noted that the evidence base for a link to the Claimant’s sex was limited. (more…)

With no emergence of an EU/UK deal, as matters currently stand we are still committed to leaving the EU on 31 October, deal or no deal.  Here is our overview of the possible employment law implications if there is a no deal Brexit.

Short Term – the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 will convert all EU employment law into UK law.  So in the short term, nothing changes.  Existing decisions of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) remain binding on all UK courts and tribunals, with the exception of the Supreme Court.
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The Government confirmed over the summer that it will extend IR35 rules to the private sector from April 2020.

IR35 is a rule applied by HMRC where an individual provides services personally to a client via a service company (intermediary) and if the intermediary did not exist, they would be considered an employee of the client – what HMRC calls a ‘disguised employee.’ Many contractors provide their services through an intermediary company and so the rule has wide application. From April 2020 it will be the client’s responsibility to assess the individual’s employment status and operate PAYE/NICs as appropriate on the fees paid to the intermediary. They will need to provide a ‘status determination statement’ confirming their IR35 determination, to both the individual and the party with which the client contracts (i.e. the intermediary or the relevant agency). (more…)

In Braine and others v The National Gallery, the Tribunal has decided that 27 “freelance” art educators at the National Gallery were “workers” during individual assignments.
The Tribunal rejected the National Gallery’s argument that the individuals were independent contractors. The individuals were offered assignments on a periodical basis and during this time they were under the control of the Gallery, required to perform their roles personally and were integrated into the organisation. For example, they undertook training with the Gallery, they were not permitted to appoint a substitute and they were required to comply with the Gallery’s teaching and presentation guidelines.
In this case the Tribunal confirmed that not every art educator would be deemed to be a “worker”. For example, if an individual carried out work at another gallery and was not subject to the same level of control and integration, they could be deemed to be self-employed.  (more…)

The short answer is yes, in certain circumstances.
In the case of Antuzis v DJ Houghton Catching Services Ltd, the directors were personally liable for a company’s breaches to its employees, which included the refusal to allow paid holiday, not paying for time actually worked, refusal to pay overtime and paying less than the minimum wage for agricultural workers. The Court decided that in knowingly directing the company to breach its statutory obligations, the directors were not acting in the best interests of the company, referring in particular to the severe damage done to its reputation. (more…)

In Gan Menachem Hendon Limited v de Groen, an ultra-orthodox Jewish nursery asked a teacher to confirm that she no longer lived with her boyfriend, given that this was contrary to the beliefs of ultra-orthodox Jews.  The teacher refused and the nursery dismissed her.  The Employment Appeal Tribunal held that this did not comprise discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, given that the teacher had been treated less favourably due to the nursery’s beliefs, rather than her own beliefs. (more…)

In April 2019, various changes were made to a number of rates. For example:

  • Statutory maternity pay increased to £145.18 per week;
  • Statutory sick pay increased to £94.25 per week; and
  • The cap on a week’s pay when calculating statutory redundancy payments increased to £525 per week.
  • The cap on the compensatory award for an unfair dismissal claim has increased to £86,444.
  • For discrimination claims, the injury to feelings bands were updated, meaning that individuals can now claim the following:
    • Lower band (less serious cases): £900 to £8,800;
    • Middle band: £8,800 to £26,300; and
    • Upper band (most serious cases): £26,300 to £44,000

The significance of the distinction lies in the legal rights attached to the different groups. Employees are entitled to the whole range of employment rights, including unfair dismissal protection, sick pay and maternity/paternity leave. Workers have more limited rights, including to the national minimum wage and holiday pay. They are also protected from discrimination. Self-employed contractors have far fewer rights but enjoy flexibility and different tax treatment. Various tests are used to decide status, including whether personal service is required, the degree of control exercised over the individual and if the business is a client or customer of the individual. (more…)

Sexual harassment in the workplace and the use and misuse of non disclosure agreements (NDAs) have been the subject of much debate, with the light shone on areas previously hidden from view. This reached its peak at the back end of the year with a court issuing an injunction preventing the Daily Telegraph from publishing details about “discreditable conduct” by an unnamed executive-they were subsequently named in Parliament. (more…)