Welcome to the latest edition of Need to Know, Winckworth Sherwood’s Employment and HR newsletter. In this edition we take a look at access to work emails under the Equality Act, mental health in the workplace and employee suspension.
Worrying about Mental Health
Mental health encompasses such a wide range of complex topics, employers are often concerned and uncertain about what they should be doing to manage and support employees when a mental health issue arises. In this article, Danielle Crawford offers some practical suggestions to help employers deal with tricky mental health issues.
She’s not got mail
Failure to ensure access to work emails can amount to unfavourable treatment under the Equality Act following the Employment Appeal Tribunal case of South West Partnership NHS Foundation Trust v Jackson. P was dismissed for redundancy whilst on maternity leave. She claimed for unlawful discrimination on maternity grounds i.e. that the Trust had treated her unfavourably because she exercised her rights to maternity leave. Even though on leave, P had attended a briefing on potential redundancies.
A suspension does not have to be necessary to be lawful, according to the Court of Appeal in Lambeth v Agoreyo.
SA was employed at Glenbrook Primary School in South London (a school maintained by Lambeth Council which was part of a group of schools overseen by an Executive Headteacher) as a Year 2 teacher on a fixed term from 9 November 2012 to 31 August 2013. She had been teaching for 15 years. In her early weeks at the School, three incidents took place involving two children with particular behavioural issues (O and Z). These incidents all involved the use of force by the Respondent to remove one of these two children from the classroom and were witnessed by two different members of staff.
Express HR: Employment law developments in bitesize chunks
- Employees who leave after only 1 month of employment are entitled to a statement of employment particulars, even though the Employment Rights Act 1996 says this is to be provided to employees not later than 2 months after the beginning of employment (Stefanko and others v Maritime Hotel Ltd).
- Although it is not always essential for employers to file an Answer if an employee appeals to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, they now have 28 days instead of 14 for doing so – and there are usually sound legal reasons for putting in such an Answer (Practice Direction (Employment Appeal Tribunal – Procedure) 2018).
- The Court of Appeal in J v K held that not being aware of the Employment Appeal Tribunal’s 10Mb email limit is a “satisfactory explanation” for filing an appeal late, but beware – this was an unusual case where the normal covering letter, referring to the guidance notes on this, had not been sent out to the appellant.
- Beware the public Register of Employment Tribunal decisions (available online since February 2017)! Tribunals do not have the power to remove judgments or written reasons from the Register, except where national security is at stake. Critical comments on the behaviour of parties are often made (Ameyaw v PWC).
- From 1 January 2019, new pay ratio regulations aimed at improving transparency on executive pay made it a statutory requirement for UK companies with more than 250 employees to disclose their top executives’ pay and explain the difference between that and the average pay awarded to the rest of the company’s UK workforce.
- The Employment Tribunal in Asda Stores Ltd v Raymond has held that the dismissal of a lorry driver, who urinated in a delivery yard due to a symptom of his diabetes, amounted to an unfair dismissal, as the employer failed to conduct a reasonable investigation into the actual cause of the driver’s actions and its relationship to his disability.
- The Government has published a consultation seeking views on its proposals to extend the preferential treatment of women on maternity leave during redundancy exercises to also include women who have returned from maternity leave in the previous six months.
- There has been a Court of Appeal case on the complex topic of burden of proof in discrimination cases (Royal Mail Group Ltd v Efobi) by holding that the Claimant bears the burden of providing supporting evidence to establish a prima facie case of discrimination.
If any of the above issues impact you or your business, or you have any questions, please get in touch with any member of the Employment Team.