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Employment Law & HR - 10 notable cases from 2015

22nd February 2016

The big step forward last year was the introduction of shared parental leave which, although take up by fathers appears slow, could present some employers with an administrative headache.  In addition, there were a number of important decisions handed down by the courts.  We have selected 10 cases which we believe are the most notable from 2015. Below is a quick run through of the cases.

If you would like further information on the implications of any of these cases or wish to discuss how Morisons’ employment team can help your business, please contact:

Jacqueline McCluskey
Tel: 0131 240 8613

Steven Harte
Tel: 0141 332 5666


Chesterton Global Ltd and anor v Nurmohamed

A disclosure by an employee that costs were being understated, which affected the earnings of over 100 senior managers, was held to be in the public interest. The number of managers was sufficiently high that they were held to be a group of the “public”. As such the disclosure was protected in terms of whistleblowing legislation.

Underwood v Wincanton Plc

A complaint about a contract of employment can also be a disclosure in the public interest under “whistleblowing” legislation even where there are only a small group of employees affected. This further extends the ability for individuals with contractual disputes to bring whistleblowing claims – the very issue that changes in the legislation in 2013 was designed to prevent.

Lock v British Gas Trading Limited

In the ongoing saga that is holiday pay, an employment tribunal decided that it had to re-write parts of the Working Time Regulations to comply with European Law and that commission and non-guaranteed overtime is to be included in the calculation of holiday pay. The decision does not, however, determine how this is to be calculated.

Federación de Servicios Privados del Sindicato Comisiones Obreras v Tyco Integrated Security SL

Travel time to the first job and from the last job of the day is “working time” for purposes of the Working Time Regulations. This case is of particular importance to the care sector and to all businesses which employ a mobile sales force.

USDAW v Ethel Austin Ltd (in administration) “the Woolworths case”

The European Court of Justice clarified the meaning of establishment and confirmed that the duty to collectively consult for redundancy purposes only arose where 20 or more workers were being made redundant in an individual store. This decision potentially affects all employers going through a redundancy exercise where they operate from more than one place of business.

Kelly v Covance Laboratories Ltd

An instruction to an employee not to speak Russian was not discrimination as it was because of security concerns, not her national origin. They were concerned that she was passing on sensitive and confidential information and could not assess whether this was the case as she was speaking in a language which nobody else in the business could understand.

Game Retail Ltd v Laws

Abusive tweets on Twitter from a private account justified dismissal as the employee’s account was linked to the employer’s twitter accounts and there was a risk that customers and colleagues could view them. The case underscores the importance for all employers to have a social media policy which has been brought to the attention of employees so they understand what is expected of them.

Metroline Travel Limited v Stoute

In a disability discrimination case, the EAT held that avoidance of sugary drinks by an employee with type 2 diabetes is not “medical treatment” and therefore the Claimant was not disabled.

Way v Spectrum Property Care Ltd

In an unfair dismissal case, the Court of Appeal confirmed that a live final written warning, which was issued in bad faith, was not valid and made the subsequent dismissal for further misconduct unfair. Employers should ensure that all steps in the disciplinary process can stand up to challenge and have been issued by the employer in an appropriate way.

GMB v Henderson

Left wing democratic socialism can constitute a philosophical belief and is therefore a “qualifying belief” in terms of discrimination legislation in the Equality Act. This is an area of the law which is ripe for further expansion as employees are likely to attempt to rely on less “mainstream” beliefs which further widen the definition of philosophical belief, with a view to bringing discrimination claims.

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