Employment Law Update from Longmores

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Thank you to Richard Gvero,Head of Employment, Longmores Solicitors, for supplying this update.
For more information please call him on Tel: 01992 305210



Damages for Redundant Apprentice
Kinnear v Marley Eternit Ltd t/a Marley Contract Services


We open this month’s second newsletter with a case demonstrating a warning about apprenticeship contracts.

Mr Kinnear was taken on by Marley under a four-year apprenticeship during which he was trained in roofing.

A downturn in workload led to his dismissal for redundancy despite his contract having 122 weeks left to run. He could not find another company to take him on, and so was not able to finish his apprenticeship.

Mr Kinnear won his claim for damages on the basis that the employer had brought his fixed-term contract to an end early. He was awarded £25,000 – the maximum that the tribunal could award. It took into account:

• the likelihood that he would not be able to complete his apprenticeship because of his age and because of the downturn in the economy. Also relevant was the fact that his apprenticeship had been tailored to the sort of products that Marley used;
• the difference between what he should have earned to the end of his apprenticeship (£24,217) and any income that mitigated that loss;
• his likely future loss, which will be affected by the fact that he does not have the roofing qualification that was at the heart of his apprenticeship. He will be disadvantaged in the labour market. •

If you are an employer of apprentices, take note: these contracts are no less significant than other workplace arrangements. Ending a fixed-term apprenticeship agreement early can be expensive.

The Right to be Accompanied
Gnahoua v Abellio London Ltd

Employees have the right to be accompanied by a colleague, or a trade union representative or official at a disciplinary hearing. An employer who breaches this could face a tribunal claim and the possibility of having to pay compensation of up to two weeks’ pay.

Abellio had not allowed Mr Gnahoua to be accompanied at his appeal hearing by his chosen companion – one of two brothers from the PTSC Union. The company had a policy that neither individual was allowed to take part in disciplinary or grievance hearings because of their association with dishonesty and with threatening behaviour towards members of staff. Abellio told Mr Gnahoua that he could be accompanied by another member of the PTSC Union, but that did not happen.

Although Abellio had denied Mr Gnahoua the right to be accompanied, it was acknowledged that the company had good reason to refuse to go along with the employee’s choice of companion. And as Mr Gnahoua had not suffered any loss or detriment, he was awarded nominal compensation of just £2.

Employers should not see this as giving the green light to object to an employee’s choice of companion. The tribunal pointed out the general rule that employers should not choose the companion on an employee’s behalf, or veto an employee’s choice. But, Abellio’s stance on this was not criticised; its objection was on strong grounds.

Caste in Stone?

The Government has opened a public consultation into caste in Great Britain.

It is about ensuring that there is appropriate and proportionate legal protection in place so that people are not discriminated against because of their origins. It is also about looking at how that sort of protection would be implemented in practice.

The big question to be considered is whether or not caste should be explicitly mentioned in the Equality Act. Although caste is likely to fall within the ‘ethnic origins’ provision of the Act, is stronger protection needed?

The consultation will close on 18 July 2017. The Government is hoping that employers, service providers and public authorities, as well as the wider public, will take part.

You will find the consultation document here.

And finally…

Pensions, share schemes, private medical insurance. They are fairly standard employee benefits.

But egg freezing?

British companies are reported to be in talks with IVF clinics. It is not actually such a new concept; Apple and Facebook are said to have been offering oocyte cryopreservation, to give it its proper name, to employees for years.

It is a way of relieving some of the potential pressures felt by women who would like to have children. It could enable women to continue with their careers for a little while longer, knowing that their time to start trying for a family will come – but just not yet. And, of course, this can be great news for businesses that want to retain their talented workers.

Will it catch on, we wonder?

Richard Gvero
Head of Employment
Tel: 01992 305210
Email: rxg@longmores-solicitors.co.uk

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