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Year in review - Lessons for Employers from 2015 Case Law

With the new year upon us, many organisations are looking forward to a busy and prosperous year ahead. This post looks at the most significant employment law developments of 2015 to prepare employers for 2016.

Indirect Discrimination

The EU case of Chez Razpredelenie Bulgaria widened the scope of discrimination law. The Court determined that it was possible for an individual to claim indirect race discrimination by association with a group that has a protected characteristic, even where they do not themselves share that protected characteristic. At present, under UK law, indirect discrimination claims can only be brought by those who share the protected characteristic of the person persons being discriminated against, employers should be aware of the potential discrepancy with the current law following the decision.

Social Media and Dismissal

In the EAT case of British Waterways Board v Smith the dismissal was held to be fair where an employee made derogatory comments about his employer on Facebook. It was determined that it did not matter that the misconduct had occurred more than two years before the employee was dismissed, even though the employer had been aware of the conduct at this time. This case is important for employers as it suggests that where an employer does not respond to misconduct at the time will not necessarily lose their right to respond at a later time.

Commission and Holiday Pay

In the Employment Tribunal case, Lock v British Gas Trading Limited, the tribunal held that employers must account for commission when calculating employees holiday pay under the Working Time Regulations 1998. This means that employers will need to look at the average pay of employees including commission over the 12 week period preceding the employee taking holiday. It is possible that this decision will also affect other holiday pay claims such as that for regular overtime. Employers should review how they calculate holiday pay to ensure their business if compliant with the legal change and make sure they are not caught out.

Travel and Working Time

The case of Federacion de Servicos v Tyco concerned a group of technicians had no fixed location or office base. As a result, it was determined that the time taken to travel to their first, and last appointments should be classed as ‘working time’ as the technicians were carrying out their working duties and were at the disposal of their employer. As a result, when calculating the number of hours worked by an employee, for the purposes of rest breaks and the 48-hour working week limit, travel time must be taken into account. Furthermore, such employees, depending on the terms of their employment contract may be entitled to pay for their first and last journeys to and from jobs.

Employment Law Advice, UK

If you require advice or assistance regarding employment contracts, practice policies or any other employment law or HR issue, contact EmployEasily Legal Services today.

We work with employers all over the UK, from Inverness to London, and can help you ensure your employment practices are consistent with the law - allowing you to focus on the running of your business. Contact us today on 0800 612 4772 for a free, no obligation consultation.

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