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Need to Know: June 2021

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In this latest edition of our ‘Need To Know’ employment and HR newsletter we look at whether an individual is obligated to accept and perform a minimum amount of work to be classified as a ‘worker’, the protection of belief and much more.

We also have included our usual HR Bullets – which cover other significant employment law updates from the past month. Below are some of our key articles:

HR Bullets

  • Dismissal of a solicitor for refusing to agree to changes to her employment contract as part of the firm’s response to COVID-19 pandemic was found to be an unfair dismissal due to her employers’ lack of consultation and failure to reasonably consider other solutions. (Khatun v Winn Solicitors Ltd (ET/2501492/2020))
  • In “midnight deadline cases” the day following expiry of the deadline should be included when calculating the limitation period. (Matthew and others v Sedman and others [2021] UKSC 19 )
  • A tribunal is required to reach a clear conclusion about the decision-maker’s reason for dismissing an employee in discrimination and unfair dismissal claims. (Cummins Ltd v Mohammed [2021] UKEAT 0039_20_190 1)
  • Both a bank and the entity to which it had loaned employees were found to be vicariously liable for dishonest assistance (by way of fiduciary breaches) by the directors of an insolvent company – despite the entity who had loaned the employees being unaware of the directors’ fraud. The Court of Appeal determined that the traders were so much a part of the work, business and organization of both companies that it was just to make both employers answer for their tortious acts and omissions in the course of their employment. (NatWest Markets Plc and another v Bilta (UK) Ltd and others [2021] EWCA Civ 680)
  • The ECJ has held that Article 157 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union (‘TFEU’) does have direct effect in equal pay claims and can be relied on by Claimants who claim they are performing work of equal value to their comparators. (K and others v Tesco Stores Ltd (C-624/19))
  • The Ministry of Justice’s quarterly Employment Tribunal statistics for January to March 2021, reveal that a total of 9,100 single claims were lodged representing a 13% decrease on the same period in 2020 and a tapering off following the large rise seen in the period September to December 2020. However, in the aggregate there has been a rise in single claims over the last few quarters which is most likely in response to rising unemployment caused by the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with redundancies and changes in working conditions. The statistics revealed that the most common claim was ‘Unfair Dismissal). (MOJ Tribunal Statistics (quarterly) – January to March 2021)
  • The Ministry of Justice has published its Civil Justice Statistics Quarterly bulletin for the period January to March 2021. This reveals that the volume and overall timeliness of civil and judicial review cases dealt with by the courts over that period remain significantly below pre-COVID-19 levels, but are comparable to the equivalent period in 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic in the UK. (MOJ Civil Justice Statistics (quarterly) – January to March 2021)
  • Employers of over one million workers have pledged to promote a positive safety message and signpost staff to NHS providers in a bid to improve the UK’s vaccine uptake. Nine of the UK’s biggest employers have signed the pledge which will mean that employees will be able to get vaccines during working hours. (COVID-19: Employers join pledge to promote vaccine uptake amongst staff)

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