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John M. Evason

John Evason manages the employment team in London. He is a specialist employment lawyer advising on all aspects of employment law. He is ranked as a star individual in Chambers and a leading individual in Legal 500. He is a member and former chair of the Legislative and Policy Sub-Committee of the Employment Lawyers Association which provides comments to the UK government on new and amended legislation and regulations. He is a regular speaker at conferences and seminars, and frequently contributes to various legal and personnel publications.

As the UK’s Parliament has now been dissolved until the general election on 4 July 2024, most draft legislation will no longer proceed. However, some unfinished business is passed through agreement between the government and the opposition parties in what is known as the “wash up” process. These include laws on non-disclosure clauses, fair allocation of tips, additional paternity leave where the mother (or primary adopter) of a child dies, and the statutory code on fire and rehire.

The Parker Review Committee has published its latest report on ethnic minority representation at board level and within senior management at FTSE350 companies, and the 50 largest private companies in the UK. Ethnic minority directors currently represent 19% of FTSE 100 directors, 13.5% of FTSE 250 directors and 11% of relevant private company directors.

From 6 April 2024, the current right of employees on maternity, adoption, and shared parental leave (“family leave”) to be offered suitable alternative employment in preference to other employees who are at risk of redundancy will be extended to cover pregnant employees, and those who have recently returned from such types of family leave.

It has become clear that flexibility is currency in the new working world and legal frameworks are evolving to catch up with the changing working culture. Four-day work-weeks, flexible working arrangements and the right to disconnect are all on offer to employees, giving the opportunity for better work-life balance, and giving employers a competitive edge in talent retention.

Welcome to this edition of the “UK: Working with Unions” bulletin designed to keep you updated with key cases and legal developments affecting trade unions and employee representative bodies. This bulletin includes two decisions of the Court of Appeal: (i) on whether the Central Arbitration Committee has jurisdiction to hear complaints post Brexit where the European Works Council’s central management is situated in the UK, and (ii) on whether collective redundancies need a common rationale to constitute a transnational matter requiring consultation with the EWC. This bulletin also covers the successful judicial review challenge against regulations introduced in July 2022 to allow employment businesses to supply workers to cover the duties of those taking part in industrial action, and the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act, which has recently received Royal Assent following much discussion and commentary.

In July 2022, the law changed to allow employment businesses to supply workers to cover the duties of those taking part in official industrial action. Previously, it had been a criminal offence to do so. Following a successful judicial review challenge brought by unions, that law has been quashed. It is once again a criminal offence to supply agency workers to cover the duties of workers on an official strike, or to supply agency workers to cover the duties of other workers reassigned to cover striking workers.

This bulletin covers the period of October 2022 to March 2023 and includes a decision of the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) on the limitation period for bringing a Regulation 20 claim under the Transnational Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 1999 and two interesting Employment Appeal Tribunal decisions considering: (i) whether the CAC has jurisdiction to hear complaints post Brexit where central management is situated in the UK, and (ii) whether the duty to inform and consult arises where collective redundancies are happening in multiple European Economic Area states but there is no common rationale for the redundancies.

After a long period in which the UK government has promised several employment law changes contained in an Employment Bill without bringing forward such a Bill, it has now announced it is supporting certain private members’ bills which include developments in these areas. These include expanding the right to request flexible working, a new right to request more predictable working conditions, a number of changes to family leave entitlements, and protection for those facing harassment by third parties such as customers at work.

The Court of Appeal has confirmed that an Acas-negotiated COT3 settlement agreement covered an individual’s claim that his former employer had knowingly helped a subsidiary unlawfully victimize him when the subsidiary rejected his job application. This situation was covered by the COT3’s express terms settling claims that indirectly arose in connection with his employment.