Latest from Employment Law: Olympics and requests for time off, Employment Tribunal New Fees for 2013, Statutory Right Must be Expressed, not Implied and more...
Dealing with requests for time off to attend or watch the Olympics
Friday 27 July 2012 sees the start of the Olympic Games and doubtless the start of more requests from employees for time off. There is no legal requirement to give employees time off to attend or watch the Games, however, some employees may take the time off anyway, by phoning in sick or taking unauthorised absence.
We have outlined below ways in which employers may accommodate employees, whilst at the same time ensuring that business disruption is kept to a minimum:
- Agreeing with employees that they can take the time as annual leave.
- Granting employees special unpaid leave.
- Operating a flexible working system so that employees can watch/attend events.
- Allowing employees to watch television or listen to the radio whilst at work.
For more information or guidance, please contact Just Employment Law.
Asserting a statutory right must be express, not implied.
A recent EAT decision has confirmed that where an employee is attempting to rely on the assertion of a statutory right to claim automatically unfair dismissal, it is essential that this assertion is express and not implied. In this case, Ajayi and another v Aitch Care Homes (London) Ltd UKEAT/0464/11, two employees worked on night shift at a home for vulnerable adults where falling asleep on duty was considered gross misconduct. Both fell asleep on duty and were dismissed. One argued that he had been exercising his statutory right to a rest break under the Working Time Regulations. However, he had not expressly communicated this fact to his employer and therefore could not rely on this to claim automatically unfair dismissal.
Employment Tribunal fee levels announced,
The Ministry of Justice has confirmed that Claimants will have to pay a fee to raise an Employment Tribunal claim from the summer of 2013. There are two levels of fees:
- Level 1 claims (for simple claims like unauthorised deductions from wages) will attract an issue fee of £160 and, if a hearing is required, a hearing fee of £230.
- Level 2 claims (for claims such as unfair dismissal and discrimination) will attract an issue fee of £250 and a hearing fee of £950.
There are further fees for asking the Employment Tribunal to exercise certain administrative functions and a separate fee regime for multiple claims.
This is likely to be a substantial disincentive for Claimants to bring weak claims, although successful Claimants will have their fees reimbursed at the conclusion of proceedings.
Falling sick on annual leave
The European Court of Justice has recently confirmed the principle that an employee who falls sick whilst on annual leave should be permitted to reschedule that leave period and take it at a later date. Previous case law had confirmed this to be the position when the employee fell sick prior to the scheduled annual leave but the court has now confirmed that the position is exactly the same when an employee has fallen sick during the period of annual leave.
We still await the government’s proposed amendments to the Working Time Regulations to ensure compliance with this principle.