Lewis Silkin


Lewis Silkin is widely recognised as a leading specialist employment law practice. Our team of over 100 UK lawyers includes 23 partners. Clients range from large corporations and PLCs to entrepreneurs, and include those in a variety of sectors including advertising and marketing, media and entertainment, retail, hospitality & leisure, technology, professional services, financial services and sports business. Lewis Silkin is the UK member of Ius Laboris, the world’s leading HR practice, and is also the UK representative of the Global Advertising Lawyers' Alliance (GALA), an international alliance of lawyers with expertise in advertising and marketing law.


Employment & Immigration

Global Talent visas for digital technology applicants: factsheet
United Kingdom | 21 October 2020

The Global Talent visa route is designed for individuals who are recognised or emerging leaders in digital technology and wish to work in the United Kingdom. Successful applicants will be granted up to five years' leave in the United Kingdom and can apply to extend their visa as many times as they like. This article outlines the criteria for endorsement used to assess whether an applicant qualifies as either a recognised or an emerging leader.

What does the COVID-19 tier system mean for offices?
United Kingdom | 21 October 2020

New regulations underpinning the three-tier lockdown system are now in force in England as part of the government's efforts to step up its response to the pandemic. This article considers whether the new regulations will demand a stricter approach to office work, as well as what may constitute a gathering, the rules for travelling to work in a different tier and how to approach client and internal work meetings.

Employment tribunals – will Winter 2020 see a flurry of claims?
United Kingdom | 14 October 2020

It is almost inevitable that the coming months will see employers receiving more employment tribunal (ET) claims. Imminent changes in ET procedures are likely to reduce case backlogs and lead to claims progressing to a hearing more quickly in a climate in which employment disputes are increasing. How will this affect employers?

MAC publishes report recommending expanded shortage occupation lists
United Kingdom | 14 October 2020

The Migration Advisory Committee has recommended a significant expansion of the occupations deemed to be in shortage for the purposes of sponsorship under the new skilled worker category, which will replace Tier 2 (General) from 1 January 2021. The Home Office will now need to consider the recommendations and finalise the Immigration Rules for skilled workers.

Countdown to new 2021 immigration system and Brexit – are you ready?
United Kingdom | 07 October 2020

From 1 January 2021 there will be a new immigration system in the United Kingdom. Due to free movement ending, the new system will apply to EEA and Swiss nationals as well as non-EEA nationals. Employers must start to prepare for this change now. This article provides a timeline which outlines the areas that employers must consider and suggests timeframes for taking action.

COVID-19 Job Support Scheme – FAQs for employers
United Kingdom | 07 October 2020

The government's new Job Support Scheme (JSS) replaces the furlough scheme and will start on 1 November 2020. The JSS will provide ongoing wage support for people in work, provided that employers meet certain access conditions, employees are working at least 33% of their usual hours and employers also provide additional wage support. This article answers FAQs covering eligibility, how the scheme works, what employers must agree with employees and alternative resourcing options for employers.

New Immigration Rules for students give employers insight into what's to come for workers
United Kingdom | 30 September 2020

The Home Office recently published new Immigration Rules for students. The rules provide the first glimpse of the new points-based immigration system and highlight what some of its implications will be, not only for students, but also for employers and workers. While the new rules for work routes will not be published until later in Autumn 2020, the new rules for students provide some significant pointers on the Home Office's general thinking and flag some areas in which further policy clarifications will be needed.

New Job Support Scheme to replace furlough scheme announced
United Kingdom | 30 September 2020

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has announced a new Job Support Scheme to replace the furlough scheme. It will start on 1 November 2020 and run for six months. This article sums up the key features of the scheme and looks at the important questions from an employment law perspective.

Face coverings and the workplace
United Kingdom | 23 September 2020

What health and safety obligations do employers have towards employees and visitors with regard to face coverings in the workplace? How should they enforce wearing face coverings if people refuse? And how should they protect employees from abusive customers or visitors? This article discusses the current rules regarding face coverings at work and some of the practical issues that may arise for employers.

ICIBI calls for evidence on UKVI's commercial partners' performance
United Kingdom | 23 September 2020

Employers and other stakeholders have until 1 October 2020 to provide the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) with views on how well the commercial partners of UK Visas and Immigration are performing, for applications made both in the United Kingdom and abroad. The ICIBI is seeking evidence from stakeholders on whether commercial partners are meeting the needs of UK visa applicants.

Innovator visa: everything you need to know
United Kingdom | 16 September 2020

This article outlines everything that applicants should know regarding the Innovator visa, including with regard to the purpose and length of stay, endorsing bodies, endorsement criteria and genuineness and other considerations. The innovator route is open to applicants who are experienced businesspeople looking to establish a business in the United Kingdom and are the founders of their business, relying on their own business plans, among other things.

Positive action speaks louder than words – five principles for employers
United Kingdom | 16 September 2020

This article explores the legal limits of positive action in the workplace, including situations where it is permissible to give preference on gender or ethnicity grounds to make up for a historic lack of opportunity and what employers can and cannot do to improve diversity in their shortlists or hiring slates.

Start-up visa: everything you need to know
United Kingdom | 09 September 2020

This article outlines everything that applicants should know regarding the requirements for the Start-up visa, including with regard to the purpose and length of stay, endorsing bodies, endorsement criteria and genuineness and other considerations. The start-up route is open to applicants who are looking to establish a business in the United Kingdom for the first time and are the founders of their business, relying on their own business plans, among other things.

Algorithms and employment law: do they reduce or embed bias?
United Kingdom | 09 September 2020

Recent years have seen rapid growth in the use of algorithms in employment, particularly in recruitment. Algorithms are now being used in interviews – for example, to assess candidates on their facial and vocal expressions. This article explains why claims regarding algorithms and discrimination are likely to become more common in the years ahead, something which UK employment law and enforcement mechanisms are ill-equipped to deal with.

UK immigration strategies for EEA business travellers and workers from 2021
United Kingdom | 02 September 2020

EEA nationals and their employers are now turning their minds towards how frequent business and work travellers and cross-border commuters can continue to come to the United Kingdom from 2021. For some, the best solution may be offered by the EU Settlement Scheme, but there are also other options to consider.

Finance Act 2020 widens scope of IR35
United Kingdom | 02 September 2020

Despite further attempts at delay, the final version of the notorious private sector IR35 rules are now enshrined in the Finance Act 2020, which recently received royal assent. Under the IR35 rules, from April 2021 large and medium-sized businesses will be required to determine the status of any contractors providing their labour to the business through personal services companies or other intermediaries and, if appropriate, operate pay as you earn and make national insurance contributions.

Home Office issues communications to sponsors regarding licence renewals
United Kingdom | 26 August 2020

The Home Office has started to make early contact with sponsors whose licences are due to expire before the end of 2020. These sponsors will be able to apply to renew their licences earlier than the usual maximum 90 days before expiry. This should help to avoid delays at the end of 2020 when thousands of licences are up for renewal at the same time as European free movement ends for UK citizens.

Flexible working post-COVID-19 – sea change or nothing new?
United Kingdom | 26 August 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns have caused millions to work from home for the first time – an experience likely to cause a surge in requests for flexible working arrangements once most employees are asked to return to the workplace. This article considers the legal position and the practicalities for employers in dealing with flexible-working requests.

Handling allegations of criminal conduct: what should employers do?
United Kingdom | 19 August 2020

Recent events in the Conservative party have focused attention on the question of what an employer should do if one of its employees is accused of committing a crime. If the alleged victim and the accused are expected to work alongside each other, if there is a significant potential risk to the safety of other people or if the nature of the allegations alone is damaging the reputation of the organisation, employers are, at the very least, entitled to act.

How does COVID-19 affect UK migrants' access to public funds and the NHS?
United Kingdom | 19 August 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought questions around migrants' rights to access public funds and the National Health Service (NHS) into the spotlight. Migrants can access the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme via their employer. However, there are limits to the government assistance which some migrants are entitled to following disruption to their normal income, and access to free NHS healthcare may also be unavailable to some people.

Staffing solutions and supply of labour
United Kingdom | 12 August 2020

The supply of labour is a growing area of the UK economy. As employers require more flexible staffing solutions, new business models have emerged offering a range of labour-supply options. Many businesses that have historically provided services have also expanded into the supply of labour, providing their clients with people to supplement their existing workforce. This article sets out the key obligations of businesses that supply labour and the consequences of non-compliance.

Home Office confirms COVID-19 immigration arrangements beyond 31 July 2020
United Kingdom | 12 August 2020

In a last-minute update on 29 July 2020, the Home Office pivoted towards a return to business as usual regarding immigration policy. Some significant concessions remain available until at least 31 August 2020; however, there are a number of potential pitfalls of which employers and individuals should be aware.

Travelling from Spain – new self-isolation rules and employment
United Kingdom | 05 August 2020

A requirement to self-isolate for 14 days in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 has been re-imposed on all people returning to the United Kingdom from Spain. Happening in the middle of peak summer holiday season, how does this affect employees who are already travelling or due to travel in the next few weeks?

Home Office publishes COVID-19 minimum income policy for family visa route applicants
United Kingdom | 05 August 2020

The Home Office recently updated its policy guidance to confirm a surprisingly limited concession to the usual minimum income requirements that most applicants for partner and child visas must meet. The guidance is intended to ensure that applicants are not disadvantaged as a result of circumstances beyond their control because of COVID-19. However, it is concerning for multiple reasons.

Back to work – advice on working from home set to change from 1 August 2020
United Kingdom | 29 July 2020

The official guidance remains that employees should work from home if they can, but the prime minister recently announced that this will change on 1 August 2020. Employers will be able to ask employees who have been able to work from home since the lockdown to return to their workplace, provided that they have taken steps to ensure that the workplace is COVID-19 secure and social distancing measures are in place.

New Health and Care visa to launch on 4 August 2020
United Kingdom | 29 July 2020

The Home Office has released the first guidance on the new Health and Care visa for doctors, nurses and allied health professionals, including individuals working in the social care sector. The Health and Care visa will be available from 4 August 2020 and will fall under the Tier 2 (General) category.

Latest developments on Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
United Kingdom | 22 July 2020

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends on 31 October 2020, with employers required to start contributing from August 2020 and a new flexible furlough option available from July 2020. This article highlights the latest developments, including with regard to flexible furloughing arrangements, government contributions and claim deadlines.

Home Office provides consolidated details of new immigration system
United Kingdom | 22 July 2020

The Home Office has published a more detailed policy statement on the changes to the UK immigration system due to come into effect from 1 January 2021, including its redesign of points-based immigration routes. The statement summarises the planned reforms to the most commonly used work, business, study and visit routes ahead of simplified immigration rules and guidance being published in Autumn 2020. This article outlines the key policy points for specific immigration categories and arrangements.

Updated guide to immigration implications of COVID-19 for employers
United Kingdom | 15 July 2020

This article sets out the main immigration law issues and Home Office guidance of which employers need to be aware so that they can consider the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for their business. It summarises the latest updates and provides further details on issues ranging from logistical considerations to Tier 2 and prevention of illegal working requirements.

Local lockdowns: HR and employment law issues
United Kingdom | 15 July 2020

As national lockdown restrictions begin to ease, employers can expect local lockdowns to become more common. This article explores the relevant HR and employment law issues, including with regard to employee pay, refurloughing and staffing workplaces that are trying to stay open.

Financial support for self-employed extended in line with employee furlough scheme
United Kingdom | 08 July 2020

The government's Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support Scheme has been extended to provide a second three-month grant for self-employed individuals affected by COVID-19 after 13 July 2020. The value of the second self-employed grants has been reduced to 70% of trading profit for three months. The government has made it clear that financial support cannot continue indefinitely, and that this will be the final grant instalment under the self-employed scheme.

British National (Overseas) visa scheme and Hong Kong to United Kingdom migration
United Kingdom | 08 July 2020

The government recently announced its commitment to establishing a new visa scheme for all British National (Overseas) persons and their dependants. The visa will provide a readily available opportunity for millions of Hong Kong residents to move to the United Kingdom more easily and honours the United Kingdom's historic commitment to Hong Kong.

Windrush Day 2020 – lessons learned?
United Kingdom | 01 July 2020

Windrush Day is a time to celebrate the substantial and ongoing contribution of the Windrush generation and their descendants, who helped to rebuild the United Kingdom after World War II and have influenced the United Kingdom's social, cultural and political landscape ever since. It is also a time to reflect on righting the wrongs of the Windrush scandal and focus on the fight against racism.

Home and away – when working from home means working abroad
United Kingdom | 01 July 2020

COVID-19 is causing many employees to ask if they can work from home for an extended period overseas (eg, because it is their home nation or because their family is based there). Employers should consider a variety of issues – including the tax, social security, immigration and employment implications – before agreeing to an employee's request to work from home when home is not in the United Kingdom. This article discusses the issues and sets out practical steps that employers can take to minimise risks.

UK immigration beyond lockdown
United Kingdom | 24 June 2020

UK visa processing is slowly starting to resume, but it is not yet business as usual. There are still many things that employers and applicants must monitor and potential pitfalls to avoid. The issues relating to processing remain complex and, as each country is moving out of lockdown at a different pace depending on their local restrictions, each application should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

How to flexi-furlough – government reveals more details
United Kingdom | 24 June 2020

The government has published updated guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, setting out the pathway to its phasing out. The guidance provides details of the complex mechanism under which flexible furloughing (ie, part work and part furlough) will be allowed from 1 July 2020.

Race discrimination complaints in the workplace and how to address them
United Kingdom | 17 June 2020

With Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests taking place across the United Kingdom and worldwide, many businesses have publicly stated their commitment to equality and the BLM movement. However, what happens when the experience of current or former black, Asian and minority ethnic employees is alleged not to live up to that standard? Employers must find ways to address such complaints and take appropriate action where needed.

New quarantine rules cause confusion for cross-border workers
United Kingdom | 17 June 2020

New rules require most international travellers who arrive in the United Kingdom from 8 June 2020 to self-isolate for 14 days. There is an exemption for cross-border workers; however, how this works in practice is not straightforward. This article examines the exemption and provides information for employers with regard to eligibility.

Home Office guidance on employing European citizens
United Kingdom | 10 June 2020

The Brexit transition period will end on 31 December 2020. EEA nationals and their family members who are resident in the United Kingdom before that date have until 30 June 2021 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. In doing so, they will obtain either settled or pre-settled status. The Home Office recently confirmed two points concerning EEA nationals and their family members.

Restructuring workplaces post COVID-19: FAQs for employers
United Kingdom | 10 June 2020

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme may have been extended until 31 October 2020, but employers should already be thinking about what their workforce might look like following the end of subsidised furlough and a return to more normal working patterns. This article answers key questions on options for restructuring workforces, including with regard to ending or extending furlough, notice and redundancy payment rights during furlough, changing terms and conditions and dealing with redundancies.

Government's immigration stance on frontline workers proves controversial
United Kingdom | 03 June 2020

The Home Office recently published an expanded list of COVID-19 frontline workers' occupations entitling them and their family members to a free and automatic one-year extension of leave. The expanded list includes biochemists, midwives and paramedics. Controversially, other frontline health and social care workers – in particular, care workers and home carers – have been excluded from the extension arrangements.

Sickness and sick pay – FAQs for employers as COVID-19 lockdown restrictions ease
United Kingdom | 03 June 2020

The government has set out its roadmap for gradually easing the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, but as employees begin to return to work, there will continue to be many individuals who are unwell or required to self-isolate. This article answers some of the most frequently asked questions about sickness absence and sick pay during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including the rules on statutory sick pay and the position of people who are self-isolating, shielding or otherwise vulnerable.

COVID-19: does employers' duty of care extend to commuting to work?
United Kingdom | 27 May 2020

Following the government's publication of its post-COVID-19 recovery strategy, employers are beginning to consider how they may safely reopen their workplace for those who cannot work from home. Employers have statutory duties to provide a safe workplace, but what of risks faced by employees during their commute to work? For many employees, the key concern is not what happens in the workplace, but rather the risks of using public transport to get there.

MAC launches six-week call for evidence on shortage occupations
United Kingdom | 27 May 2020

Employers have until 24 June 2020 to provide their views to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) on what occupations should be on the shortage occupation lists for UK sponsored skilled migration from 1 January 2021. Employers can complete an online form outlining details of what occupations they have difficulty recruiting for and why. In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the MAC would also like to hear from employers that are unable to respond before the deadline, but can provide details for future research.

Pandemic right to work checks procedures
United Kingdom | 20 May 2020

Under the Home Office's current guidance for right to work (RTW) checks, it is possible to conduct a fully compliant initial or follow-up RTW check without seeing an individual face to face. Where this is impossible during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Home Office has instituted a temporary adjusted procedure, which must be backed up by retrospective checks in due course. This article summarises the options and procedures and highlights some general points to be aware of during the pandemic.

Furlough scheme extended until end of October 2020
United Kingdom | 20 May 2020

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended by a further four months until 31 October 2020. The furlough scheme will continue in its current form without any changes until 31 July 2020. However, new flexibility will be introduced from the beginning of August 2020, with the aim of getting employees back to work and boosting the economy. Employers should use the news of the furlough scheme extension to think proactively about the next stage of their business continuity plans.

COVID-19: Tier 2 workers' changes to salary, furlough scheme and redundancy
United Kingdom | 13 May 2020

The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe is having significant and wide-ranging economic and public health impacts. Businesses are already feeling the adverse side effects of profoundly changed trading circumstances. This article highlights the immigration implications of a number of actions that employers may be forced to take to protect their business over the coming months.

Conducting workplace investigations remotely during COVID-19
United Kingdom | 13 May 2020

COVID-19 has changed the ways in which businesses run and there is still some time before it is 'business as usual'. Most employers are grappling with new ways of working, with many employees working from home. However, what should employers do if they become aware of an allegation of misconduct or wrongdoing? This article considers whether a remote investigation is the right step to take and what employers should bear in mind if they conclude that it is.

Business as (un)usual: how to manage a return to business after COVID-19
United Kingdom | 06 May 2020

The United Kingdom's current lockdown extends until at least 7 May 2020, after which there is likely to be a further extension. When it eventually begins to be lifted, measures for a gradual and phased return to the workplace are likely to be imposed, with physical distancing measures remaining in place. Pending formal publication of detailed guidelines by the government, employers should start thinking ahead about how to manage the process. This article looks at the practical issues to consider.

Guide to immigration implications of COVID-19 for employers
United Kingdom | 06 May 2020

This article sets out the main immigration law issues and Home Office guidance of which employers need to be aware so that they can consider the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for their business. It summarises the latest updates and provides further details on issues ranging from logistical considerations to Tier 2 and prevention of illegal working requirements.

Ramadan, COVID-19 and lockdown – how can employers support their staff?
United Kingdom | 29 April 2020

Ramadan began on the evening of 23 April 2020 and will last for 30 days (until the evening of 23 May 2020), which means that some or all of it will be taking place under the continued lockdown imposed on account of the COVID-19 pandemic. What issues do employers need to be aware of during Ramadan?

Government plans to go ahead with reformed points-based immigration system despite COVID-19
United Kingdom | 29 April 2020

The Home Office has released an update for employers on the new points-based immigration system due to take effect from January 2021. Despite the disruption caused by COVID-19, the Home Office still intends to go ahead with the new immigration system within the timeframe outlined in its policy statement released on 19 February 2020. What does this mean for UK employers?

Furloughing employees – update on COVID-19 job retention scheme
United Kingdom | 22 April 2020

The government has issued further updates to its guidance for employers on claiming for employee wages through the new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and separate guidance for employees. Alongside this, the government has published separate information for employers in advance of the online portal opening for claims on 20 April 2020.

Employer not liable for misuse of personal data by rogue employee
United Kingdom | 15 April 2020

The Supreme Court has allowed an appeal by Morrisons Supermarkets plc, one of the United Kingdom's major supermarket chains, overturning a finding that it was vicariously liable for a rogue employee's deliberate disclosure of payroll data relating to some 100,000 co-workers, of whom 10,000 brought a group claim for damages.

Furloughing employees – FAQs for employers on COVID-19 job retention scheme
United Kingdom | 08 April 2020

The government has updated its guidance on how furlough will work in practice under the new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The guidance gives more clarity on salary sacrifice, which types of worker can be claimed for and which payments can be included. This article sets out the key points from the updated guidance and answers FAQs about the scheme.

IR35 reforms postponed due to coronavirus
United Kingdom | 01 April 2020

The government has announced that the planned reforms to IR35 will now take effect on 6 April 2021 instead of 6 April 2020 as previously planned. The postponement will come as an enormous relief to businesses that were struggling to prepare for this significant change to employment tax while dealing with the issues introduced by the fast-changing coronavirus situation. However, this is clearly a deferral of the reforms rather than an abandonment.

Dismissal unfair where decision maker was not given accurate information
United Kingdom | 25 March 2020

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has ruled that an employee's dismissal for gross misconduct was unfair because the investigating officer failed to share significant new information with the manager who conducted the disciplinary hearing and decided to dismiss the employee. The case highlights the importance of employers undertaking thorough investigations into disciplinary-related allegations before making a final decision.

Coronavirus: key issues for employers
United Kingdom | 18 March 2020

The coronavirus outbreak has brought to the fore numerous employment law concerns, including questions about travel, health and safety, work attendance and discrimination claim risks. This article examines what employers in the United Kingdom need to know about the outbreak.

Failing to enhance pay for shared parental leave is not sex discrimination – permission to appeal refused
United Kingdom | 11 March 2020

The Supreme Court has refused permission to appeal in Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police v Hextall. This means that the law remains as set out in the Court of Appeal's judgment, which stated that failure to enhance pay for shared parental leave was neither indirect discrimination nor a breach of equal pay rights.

Fawcett Society promotes new Equal Pay Bill
United Kingdom | 04 March 2020

The Fawcett Society is backing a private member's bill which aims to tackle unequal pay between men and women by introducing a new 'right to know' what male comparators are paid. The aim is to provide women who are not being paid equally to male comparators a route to get the information that they need. The bill also proposes to change the gender pay gap reporting process.

Too little, too late? IR35 changes announced
United Kingdom | 26 February 2020

In a welcome but late move, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has confirmed that the imminent IR35 reform will apply only to supplies of labour provided on or after 6 April 2020. With less than two months to go before the change takes effect, many businesses will consider HMRC's announcement and its recently issued detailed guidance too little too late as they grapple with the significant administrative burden and cost implications of the reform.

Introduction of paid parental bereavement leave confirmed
United Kingdom | 19 February 2020

The government has finalised the legislation to implement an entitlement to two weeks' paid bereavement leave for working parents who lose a child aged under 18. The new right will come into force with effect on 6 April 2020. In readiness, all employers should review their policies and practices and amend them as necessary to reflect the new rights.

IR35 reforms from April 2020
United Kingdom | 12 February 2020

The proposed IR35 reform represents the biggest change to employment tax for decades. Until now, businesses have been able to engage contractors using personal services companies (or other intermediaries) without having to give much thought to the individual contractor's status for tax purposes. The proposed changes mean that businesses must review how they engage with contractors ahead of April 2020.

Significant new guidance on harassment from EHRC
United Kingdom | 05 February 2020

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published substantial new guidance on sexual harassment and harassment at work, setting out detailed recommendations that employers should consider following to prevent and deal with such behaviour. The guidance puts the onus on employers to be more inquisitive about what is going on in their workplace, rather than simply having policies and dealing with complaints.

Whistleblowing dismissal unfair as decision maker manipulated by another manager
United Kingdom | 29 January 2020

In a decision with implications for unfair dismissal law generally, the Supreme Court ruled that it is not always necessary for a dismissing manager to know about whistleblowing disclosures made by an employee in order for that dismissal to be automatically unfair. The facts of the case were extreme, involving a manager who had deliberately created a false picture of inadequate performance which the dismissing manager had then believed, but the decision nonetheless has significant wider implications.

Vegans protected by Equality Act: what does it mean for employers?
United Kingdom | 22 January 2020

According to an employment tribunal in the widely reported case brought by Jordi Casamitjana, ethical veganism can be a philosophical belief that is protected under the Equality Act. But what does this mean in practice for employers?

2019 in employment law
United Kingdom | 15 January 2020

What were the most significant employment law developments in 2019? What can be expected in 2020 under a newly elected Conservative government with a sizeable majority? Despite Brexit continuing to dominate the political agenda in 2019, there were significant decisions in the courts and proposals for reform. Looking ahead to 2020, various Good Work Plan reforms will come into effect and the government plans to introduce a new Employment Bill, paving the way for further employment law reforms.

Tribunal finds that workers transfer under TUPE
United Kingdom | 08 January 2020

In a surprise decision, with potentially wide-ranging ramifications, an employment tribunal has found that workers, as well as traditional employees, transfer under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006. The decision is employment tribunal level only, so it has no binding precedent weight and may be appealed. Nonetheless, it raises some immediate practical considerations.

Something to be-leave in? Brexit as a philosophical belief
United Kingdom | 18 December 2019

In the face of undoubtedly strong feelings on both sides of the Brexit debate, questions are likely to arise regarding the implications of employees bringing their Brexit views into the workplace. Specifically, are there potential discrimination risks and could a strong belief regarding Brexit count as a philosophical belief for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010?

Election manifestos – what are the main parties pledging on employment issues?
United Kingdom | 11 December 2019

Despite the dominance of Brexit, employment issues are one of the main election battlegrounds for all of the major political parties. There is a particular focus on current hot topics, including insecure work and the gig economy, the gender (and other) pay gaps and new mechanisms for enforcing employment rights. This article covers the key employment measures that have been proposed by the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and the Scottish National Party.

Strike injunction refused because ballot notification complied with legal requirements
United Kingdom | 04 December 2019

The Court of Appeal has refused an application by British Airways plc for an injunction to restrain strike action by airline pilots, thereby ruling that the trade union provided sufficient detail as to the categories of employee to be balloted under the statutory rules. The ruling provides useful clarification for unions and employers when they are respectively drafting and supervising industrial action ballot notices.

Judges are workers protected by whistleblowing law
United Kingdom | 27 November 2019

The Supreme Court recently ruled that judges are workers under whistleblowing legislation and are thus protected from being treated badly for making a protected disclosure. In the case at hand, the court agreed that the judge did not obviously fall within the definition of a 'worker' because she did not work under a contract, which would mean that she was not protected by whistleblowing laws. However, the court decided that this failed to protect her human rights – specifically, the right to freedom of expression.

New guidance on use of confidentiality agreements in discrimination cases
United Kingdom | 13 November 2019

Confidentiality clauses or non-disclosure agreements have become a topic of significant interest because of how they can be used to prevent employees from reporting allegations of sexual harassment or other similar misconduct. The government recently published its response to a consultation on the regulation of confidentiality clauses, which sets out a number of proposals for new legislation in this area.

Responsibility for pay information transfers under TUPE
United Kingdom | 06 November 2019

A recent Employment Appeal Tribunal case clearly underlines that, on a Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) transfer, new employers must ensure that all records kept by the transferor in relation to the national minimum wage are transferred when it takes over the employees (especially as such records are likely to be held electronically). The transferor's refusal or failure to provide the records should be dealt with by way of indemnities or other contractual provisions in the transfer documentation.

Employer ordered to disclose privileged material
United Kingdom | 23 October 2019

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) recently ordered an employer to disclose comments that it had received from its external solicitor relating to an employee's dismissal because it had deliberately disclosed other related privileged documents which were helpful to its case. Interestingly, this case is one of the few where the EAT has had to grapple with issues relating to privilege. It is also a strong reminder that employers that make a tactical decision to waive privilege must be aware of the potential ramifications.

Class discrimination and the workplace: TUC proposes new laws
United Kingdom | 16 October 2019

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) recently published its recommendations for eliminating class-based bias in society. Its report points to a number of statistics demonstrating that working-class individuals suffer disadvantage in the employment sphere. As such, the TUC has proposed (among other things) the introduction of compulsory class pay gap reporting for all employers.

Labour Party announces plans for new Workers' Protection Agency and Ministry for Employment Rights
United Kingdom | 09 October 2019

During the Trades Union Congress conference in early September 2019, the Labour Party announced plans for a new Workers' Protection Agency and Ministry for Employment Rights. In particular, Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn promised the biggest ever extension of employment rights in the United Kingdom, designed to put power in the hands of workers. Other Labour Party proposals include expanding 'worker' status to everybody except genuinely self-employed persons.

Holiday need not be prorated for term-time workers
United Kingdom | 02 October 2019

The Court of Appeal has held that holiday entitlement and pay for workers on permanent contracts should not be prorated to reflect the fact that they work on a part-year basis. In light of this decision, employers using set percentages to calculate holiday pay should consider auditing their workers on permanent contracts to ensure that these fixed rates do not result in them receiving less than their statutory entitlement.

Women and Equalities Committee proposes radical changes to enforcement of discrimination law
United Kingdom | 25 September 2019

A report by the Women and Equalities Committee has recommended a fundamental shift in the way in which discrimination claims are brought so that individuals do not carry the burden of enforcing their rights. The report urges the Equalities and Human Rights Commission to bring more cases and better publicise its enforcement work so that employers and other organisations are not complacent about equality.

European works councils cannot slow down managerial decision making
United Kingdom | 18 September 2019

In the United Kingdom's first appeal case on the operation of a European works council, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has ruled that European works councils cannot slow down managerial decision making by delaying the provision of an opinion after being informed and consulted. The EAT's decision is unsurprising but nonetheless welcome for employers.

Response published to consultation on misuse of confidentiality clauses
United Kingdom | 11 September 2019

As part of a flurry of responses and new consultations issued in the last days of Theresa May's government, the response to the consultation on measures to prevent the misuse of confidentiality clauses in the workplace was published. It sets out a number of significant legislative proposals which, when implemented, will necessitate redrafting of these clauses in both employment contracts and settlement agreements.

UK employment rights in a no-deal Brexit
United Kingdom | 28 August 2019

What might a no-deal Brexit mean for UK employment rights? What could employers do now to prepare? And what might the future hold in a no-deal scenario? Prime Minister Boris Johnson is clear that he would be prepared to leave the European Union without a deal if necessary and the current legislation commits the United Kingdom to leaving the European Union at 11:00pm on 31 October 2019. Thus, it seems like a good time to revisit the employment law implications of a no-deal Brexit for employers.

Court of Appeal confirms that discrimination because of perceived disability is unlawful
United Kingdom | 21 August 2019

The Court of Appeal recently found that it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of a mistaken perception that they have a progressive condition which would make them unable to perform the full functions of a role in future. This decision confirms that the test is not whether the discriminator believes that the impairment meets the legal definition of 'disability', but whether they believe that it has those features. However, beyond this point, the case has raised some difficult issues.

European Union adopts work-life balance directive: will UK employers need to comply?
United Kingdom | 14 August 2019

The EU Work-Life Balance Directive introduces new rights for carers and working parents. If the United Kingdom needs to comply (or if it chooses to do so), UK employers must make several changes to their existing family leave and pay framework. For example, although the United Kingdom provides a right to paternity leave and pay, both rights are currently subject to a six-month service requirement. To comply with the directive, the service requirement for paternity leave (although not pay) would need to be scrapped.

Court of Appeal decides unions have no veto during collective bargaining
United Kingdom | 31 July 2019

The Court of Appeal recently ruled that offers made directly by an employer to its employees in relation to pay and working hours did not amount to an unlawful attempt to bypass collective bargaining contrary to Section 145B of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. As such, a cautious approach remains sensible given the punitive fines if an employer goes too far in its offers to employees.

IR35 – what is changing and what you need to do
United Kingdom | 24 July 2019

The government is committed to cracking down on disguised employment. In order to achieve this, the IR35 rules will change from April 2020. The IR35 rules apply where contractors personally provide services via an intermediary. However, if the contractor is directly engaged, they would be considered an employee or office holder for tax purposes. The changes will also apply to more complex labour chains, so an early understanding of the labour supply chain is critical.

Voluntary overtime must be included in holiday pay if sufficiently regular and settled
United Kingdom | 17 July 2019

The Court of Appeal recently confirmed that the EU Working Time Directive requires voluntary overtime to be included in holiday pay if it is sufficiently regular and settled to amount to normal remuneration. This ruling is in line with other recent cases which have covered what should be considered when calculating holiday pay. It provides clear authority that employers should include sufficiently regular and settled voluntary overtime in their holiday pay calculations.

Failing to enhance pay for shared parental leave is not sex discrimination
United Kingdom | 10 July 2019

In an emphatic judgment, the Court of Appeal has ruled that it is not direct discrimination, indirect discrimination or a breach of equal pay rights to provide enhanced pay for maternity leave and statutory pay only for shared parental leave (SPL). This judgment is good news for employers, as it sends a clear message that it is lawful to enhance maternity pay but provide statutory pay only for SPL.

Employee ordered to pay more than £500,000 in legal costs in breach of restrictive covenants and data privacy case
United Kingdom | 03 July 2019

Following a trial in the High Court where an employer was awarded final injunctions to prohibit a former employee from breaching post-termination restrictions, the losing employee was ordered to pay 90% of his former employer's legal bill. This is a useful decision for employers, as it demonstrates that a reasonable and proportionate email trawl need not infringe an employee's privacy rights.

Court of Appeal rules on liability of overseas co-workers for whistleblowing
United Kingdom | 19 June 2019

In an unusual case of whistleblowing detriment brought by an overseas employee against two co-workers (also based overseas), the Court of Appeal has ruled that the employment tribunal in question had no jurisdiction to hear the claim in relation to personal liability of the co-workers because they were outside the scope of UK employment law. The decision may have implications for other types of claim brought by employees posted overseas where similar personal liability provisions apply.

Good Work Plan – first steps down the path
United Kingdom | 05 June 2019

In December 2018, following Matthew Taylor's extensive review of modern employment practices, the government unveiled its Good Work Plan, which set out a long list of proposals. The employment law reforms mapped out by the government are still in their infancy, but this is a good moment to reflect on where things stand and what lies ahead.

European Commission confirms its views on European works councils and a no-deal Brexit
United Kingdom | 29 May 2019

The European Commission has revised its guidance on the legal repercussions of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union for European works councils, including the implications of a no-deal Brexit. Among other things, the guidance states that the EU European Works Council Directive will cease to apply to the United Kingdom and that UK employees may continue to be represented on a European works council if that is provided for in the European works council agreement.

EAT confirms that removal of outdated contractual entitlement following transfer was not void
United Kingdom | 22 May 2019

The Employment Appeal Tribunal recently upheld a decision that the removal of outdated contractual entitlements following a Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (TUPE) transfer was not void, as the sole or principal reason was not the transfer or a reason connected with the transfer. This is a relatively rare example of contractual changes following a TUPE transfer being permissible.

Pre-transfer dismissal was by reason of transfer and automatically unfair
United Kingdom | 15 May 2019

The Court of Appeal recently upheld a decision that the dismissal of an employee immediately before a Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations transfer was automatically unfair because the principal reason had been the transfer. This case underlines that even where an employer believes that it has a non-transfer-related rationale for a dismissal, caution should be exercised where it will occur close to the transfer date.

High Court construes TUPE indemnity
United Kingdom | 08 May 2019

The High Court recently considered whether a Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (TUPE) indemnity for employment payments which fell due before the transfer date included sums whose payment dates had not yet crystallised. The case serves as a warning to practitioners when drafting TUPE provisions (eg, in asset purchase or outsourcing agreements).

Court of Appeal maintains interim springboard injunction in team moves case
United Kingdom | 10 April 2019

A recent Court of Appeal judgment is a helpful reminder of the applicable legal tests in securing an interim springboard injunction. It also identifies several practical factors that may influence the granting of discretionary remedies in the context of a team move and reminds employers facing an injunction application of the risk that the 'truth will out' if they (or their new recruits) present misleading evidence to the court.

Will Brexit frustrate your European works council?
United Kingdom | 27 March 2019

The final form of Brexit remains uncertain, as does its impact on European works councils governed by UK law. As such, employers with European works councils currently governed by the United Kingdom's European works council legislation are strongly advised to conditionally appoint a new representative agent in a state that will remain in the European Union.

Court of Appeal upholds EAT decision on Asda equal pay claims
United Kingdom | 13 March 2019

The Court of Appeal recently upheld an Employment Appeal Tribunal decision that Asda's lower-paid, predominately female retail staff can compare themselves to higher-paid, mainly male, distribution depot staff. While the facts are specific to Asda, any employer with different groups of predominantly male or female workers should review its pay practices, regardless of whether these groups work at the same site.

Redundancy protection for pregnancy and maternity to be extended?
United Kingdom | 06 March 2019

The government recently published a consultation paper extending protection from redundancy for pregnant women, women who have returned to work after maternity leave and new parents. The paper seeks views on whether protection should be extended throughout pregnancy and for a period after a woman returns to work and whether this should also apply to parents who have taken other types of leave.

National 'sickie' day: tips for managing sickness absence
United Kingdom | 20 February 2019

In 2018 sickness absences cost UK employers an average of £656 per employee. With employers likely to experience the highest levels of sickness absence between January and March, those looking to tackle short-term intermittent sickness absence may want to consider (among other things) offering flexible working options and duvet days while limiting the amount of annual leave employees take in the summer.