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.
2022 has seen further case law on the issue of the potential conflict between expressions of gender-critical beliefs in the workplace and proponents of gender identity. There are currently four main cases in this sphere: Forstater v. CGD Europe; Mackereth v. DWP; Higgs v. Farmor’s School; and Bailey v. Garden Court Chambers and Stonewall. There have been decisions in all four cases during 2022.
This edition of the “Working with Unions” bulletin covers the period of April to September 2022 and includes: (i) the decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal in INEOS Infrastructure Grangemouth Limited v Jones & Others and INEOS Chemicals Grangemouth Limited v Arnott & Others, clarifying the scope of the unlawful inducements in collective bargaining provisions under section 145B of the Trade Unions and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act following last year’s Supreme Court decision of Kostal v Dunkley, and (ii) the Court of Appeal’s decision in USDAW and others v Tesco Stores Ltd which reversed the High Court’s decision to grant an injunction preventing the employer from dismissal and reengagement.
Following the government’s recent announcement, Parliament has approved the removal of the prohibition on businesses using temporary workers to cover staff taking part in industrial action and increased the maximum amount of damages that a court can award against a trade union for unlawful strike action. These changes became effective on 21 July 2022.
Draft regulations that extend the ban on exclusivity clauses in employment contracts from those on zero-hours contracts to include those earning on or less than GBP 123 per week have been laid before Parliament.
An employment tribunal has held that a claimant’s belief in ethical veganism that extended to taking positive action to reduce or prevent the suffering of animals, which included criminal conduct such as trespassing on private property to expose and remove suffering animals, was not a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010.
The practice of ‘fire and rehire’, where an employer dismisses a worker and then re-engages them on different (sometimes perceived as less favorable) terms, is a current hot topic in UK employment law. The government has, to date, declined to legislate on the issue, although it stressed that the practice should only be used as a last resort. On 29 March 2022, the government announced that it would introduce a new statutory code on the practice, which will also detail how employers should hold fair, transparent and meaningful consultations on proposed changes to terms of employment.
In 2021, the government commissioned Dr. Tony Sewell to chair a new Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (CRED) to investigate race and ethnic disparities in the UK. CRED published its report into its findings in March 2021 which set out 24 recommendations to forward 4 overarching aims: (i) to build trust between different communities and the institutions that serve them, (ii) to promote greater fairness to improve opportunities and outcomes for individuals and communities, (iii) to create agency so individuals can take greater control of the decisions that impact their lives, and (iv) to achieve genuine inclusivity to ensure all groups feel a part of UK society.
Our quarterly “Working with Unions” bulletin is designed to keep employers updated with key cases and legal developments affecting trade unions and employee representative bodies. Our latest bulletin covers the period of April to June 2021 and includes an interesting Central Arbitration Committee decision considering the effect of Brexit on UK European Works Councils and a decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal reading down section 146 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 to give workers protection from detriment for taking industrial action.