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King George V sat on the throne when our highest court last considered post-employment restrictive covenants. Pervasive wartime controls were in place to regulate labour. Employment protection legislation was non-existent. The world was a very different place. 

Over the intervening 100 years, the law on restrictive covenants developed and changed but no case made it beyond the Court of Appeal. 

Fastforward to 2019. The last vestiges of the master/servant labour model are firmly consigned to the history books. The individual contract of employment is without doubt the cornerstone of modern labour relations in the UK. Supplementing this relationship is a rich tapestry of statutory employment protections woven over some 60 years. Our working world is global, competitive and increasingly digital. Now, more than ever, information, goodwill and trade connections are a highly prized commodity for almost every business.  Continue reading

REUTERS | Baz Ratner

Claimants and respondents in the employment tribunal should always think carefully before applying for the tribunal to use its power under rule 32 to order the attendance of a witness to give evidence. While it can be a powerful course of action, there is a significant risk that such a witness will be hostile and uncooperative. Even if they would be willing to give helpful evidence in the normal course of events, they may still be employed by the alleged wrongdoer or otherwise restricted, such that no one can be sure what precisely they will say.  Continue reading

REUTERS | Mike Blake

Improving workforce diversity is high on the agenda for most organisations. The 2018/19 gender pay gap reports have been published and most employers have similar gaps to last year (and, in some cases, increases). While employers may not have had a chance to put in place any action plans before the latest set of reports, their public nature is likely to put increasing pressure on organisations which fail to narrow the gender pay gap. In addition, the government is currently considering the feedback from their recent consultation on ethnicity pay gap reporting and there seems little doubt that this obligation will be introduced in due course. Continue reading

REUTERS | Lucy Nicholson

Introduction and substance of the claim

In Federación de Servicios de Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) v Deutsche Bank SAE (Case C-55/18) EU:C:2019:402, a group action was brought by a number of trade unions. The aim of the claimants was to obtain a declaration of the existence of an obligation on Deutsche Bank SAE to set up a system which records the actual number of hours worked daily and makes it possible to check that the working times laid down in legislation and collective agreements are properly adhered to. Continue reading

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Following the Court of Appeal decision in North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust v Gregg [2019] EWCA Civ 387, is it now “beyond a reasonable doubt” that employers can continue internal processes before the conclusion of criminal proceedings?

Put simply: not quite. However, this is a very helpful case for employers, considering whether there will be a breach of the implied term of trust and confidence by pressing ahead with internal disciplinary proceedings where there is a parallel police investigation into the same issues under way. Continue reading

REUTERS | Dominic Ebenbichler

The definition of mental health as “a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being” isn’t suggestive of a negative state. Yet the stigma surrounding it is one of weakness and indignity. Conversely, supporting those with physical impairments has for decades required employers to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to ensure that employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work. Continue reading

REUTERS | Toby Melville

There has been a lot of discussion recently about the inequality of pay between men and women. After discussing the various controversies, this blog focuses on whether the statutory equality clause mechanism is fit for purpose in addressing the issue of unequal pay. Recognising there is no simple panacea for inequality of pay, it argues that the current equality clause procedure requires reform, along with a greater emphasis on pay transparency. Continue reading

REUTERS | Fayaz Kabli

In The Mayor & Burgesses of the London Borough of Lambeth v Simone Agoreyo [2019] EWCA Civ 322, the Court of Appeal confirmed that suspension of an employee is to be treated like any other alleged breach of the implied term of mutual trust and confidence: the question is whether the employer’s conduct, without reasonable and proper cause, destroys or seriously damages the relationship of trust and confidence. Asking whether suspension is a “neutral act” is unlikely to assist in resolving it, because it is a highly fact-specific question. Continue reading