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October 2017

Can the mobility clause in your employee’s contract be trusted?

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The recent Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) decision in Kellogg Brown & Root (UK) Ltd v (1) Fitton and (2) Ewer stated that moving employees from one site to another 30 miles away was unreasonable and therefore the dismissals when they wouldn’t move were unfair.

Appeal against a finding that the Claimants were unfairly dismissed and against a ruling that they were entitled to statutory redundancy payments. The unfair dismissal appeal was dismissed, the redundancy appeal was allowed.

The workplace where the 2 Claimants worked was shut down and they were instructed to work at a different location in accordance with a mobility clause in their contracts of employment. This relocation would have meant an increased commute of between 20 and 30 hours per week. Both Claimants refused to relocate and were dismissed. The ET found their dismissals to be unfair and also ruled that they were both entitled to statutory redundancy payments. The Respondent appealed.

The EAT allowed the appeal in respect of the redundancy decision. The ET had wrongly approached the question of the reason for the dismissals from the perspective of there having been a redundancy situation within the definition of section 139 ERA when it had found that the reason in the Respondent’s mind was related to the Claimants’ refusal to obey the instruction to relocate, issued in reliance on the mobility clause which featured in their contracts of employment. However, the EAT dismissed the appeal in respect of the unfair dismissal decisions. The ET had correctly applied the three stage test identified by the Respondent, asking (1) whether the instruction was lawful (whether the mobility clause relied on was contractual), (2) whether the Respondent had acted reasonably in giving that instruction, and (3) whether the Claimants had acted reasonably in refusing to comply with that instruction. It had concluded that the mobility clause was too wide and uncertain, had been unreasonably invoked by the Respondent and that the Claimants had reasonably refused to comply with the instruction.

Tribunal Quarterly Statistics

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Tribunal quarterly statistics April to June 2017

On 14 September 2017, the Ministry of Justice published the tribunal quarterly statistics for the period April to June 2017. During this quarter:

  • The number of single claims received by employment tribunals rose by 2% while disposals decreased by 6% compared with the same quarter in 2016, resulting in an 11% increase in the outstanding case load. The average time until disposal was 28 weeks for single claims, a decrease of one week when compared to the same quarter last year.
  • The number of multiple claims and disposals decreased by 19% and 43% respectively, compared to the same quarter in 2016. The average time until disposal was 318 weeks for multiple claims, an increase of 97 weeks when compared to the same quarter last year.
  • Employment tribunals disposed of 9,538 claims during the quarter, down 34% compared with the same period in 2016. 18% of claims disposed of were settled via Acas, 9% were withdrawn and 16% were successful at hearing. The most common complaint disposed of was for “Unauthorised deductions”. 
  • The proportion of total remission applications granted (both single and multiple cases) has risen sharply at around 85% of those applying (it was 63% at the end of March 2017).
  • The total employment tribunal case load outstanding at the end of June 2017 was 274,468, with 96% relating to multiple claims.

Are Vetting Practices Reliable?

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Sheffield and Bath Universities have interviewed business experts in: non-governmental organisations, trade unions, law firms and the police, the findings found that organisations are failing to thoroughly monitor outsourced recruitment, subcontracting or informal hiring practices.

Women struggle to make their voice heard in the workplace

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Working women in the UK feel they face a number of challenges to make their voice heard in business environments, according to new research. The study, conducted by RADA in Business, the commercial subsidiary of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art which provides communication skills training for corporate individuals, found that just 8 percent of women find it easy to make their voice heard at work. In comparison, 15 percent of men reported being able to express themselves with ease within a work environment. The research also claims that women are 68 percent more likely than men to say they never feel comfortable when expressing themselves in a work environment (3.7 percent of women compared to 2.2 percent of men). This gap was widest in specific sectors, most notably IT, professional services (such as law and accountancy), retail and education.

Liz Barber, Client Director at RADA in Business commented on the findings: “The data shows there are still discrepancies between how men and women feel in a business environment. It shows that we have a way to go to ensure that women feel as comfortable and confident in expressing themselves at work as men do. The two key challenges often identified by women in the workplace are sustaining a belief in their own ability and potential, and having the confidence to put themselves forward for senior positions.’’

Situations where women said they felt significantly less comfortable than their male counterparts were when meeting with their manager (33 percent more likely to feel uncomfortable than men), or an organisation’s board members or senior management (12 percent more likely).  Typically, women responding to the survey said that they felt more comfortable when communication was a two-way process, for example in one-to-one meetings when they felt the other person was genuinely listening to what they had to say.


Women struggle to make their voices heard in the workplace, claims RADA report