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Depressed academic who was ‘sent to Coventry’ wins appeal

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The EAT overturned a tribunal decision after finding the original tribunal “erred in its approach” towards Professor Roya Sheikholeslami’s claim that her former employer – the University of Edinburgh’s school of engineering – discriminated against her because of her work-related stress and depression, and failed to make reasonable adjustments. While legal proceedings were ongoing, Sheikholeslami’s colleagues had been instructed not to contact her except through her solicitors as she was “in dispute” with the organisation, effectively meaning she was ostracised.

It’s almost New Year…

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It’s almost New Year so when you are wishing your employees a Happy New Year, why not put a ‘line in the sand’ and put the company rules and procedures in a memo covering any ‘niggles’ you may have had in 2018 eg. not following procedures for booking holidays or sickness, not following the dress code, unprofessional behaviour etc.  Then if these aren’t followed going further you will be in a good position to take action without someone saying “we’ve always done that”!

Office Banter

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‘Office Banter’ isn’t always what it seems to be!  Make sure it is not discriminatory or harassment, as if the person receiving the ‘banter’ or anyone else listening in are offended, then you may receive a claim!  If in doubt cut it out and make sure everyone knows what is expected and what will happen if that doesn’t happen.

Signed contract on file?

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In a recent case company Tenon FM was unable to enforce Post Termination Restrictions on its former employee Ms Susan Cawley.

 

Cawley started employment with the company in 2008 and until her resignation in 2018, was awarded a number of promotions.  At her time of leaving Cawley was an Operations Director.

 

Upon leaving it is alleged that Cawley attempted to persuade a former colleague to join her new employer, the alleged action led Tenon to seek an interim High Court injunction to enforce the post termination restrictions contained within her contract of employment.

 

Unable to produce a signed copy of the contract, Tenon failed to persuade the judge of the implied acceptance of contract (due to length of service).

 

“Deemed acceptance of contract” should always be followed up in writing but better still, issue contracts ahead of a start date and ask for a signed copy to be returned on the employees first day of work along with all other paperwork required by HR.

 

Advisors are often asked if an employer can take someone on for a “trial period” and then make a decision as to whether they issue a contract or not…

 

Generally, our stance is that the contracts afford the employer a host of benefits and provide expectations of the employee in writing.  Not forgetting that under the Employment Rights Act (1996) you are obliged to provide written information in a Statement of Main Terms within 8 weeks of an employee’s start date.

 

It is advised that all employees have contracts for day one, a probation period is in effect the trial period that you are seeking….

 

For specific advice, please call your Advisor!

Christmas Parties – are you ready?

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  1. Are your employees aware of what is required of them at the party eg. no fighting, drugs, damaging property etc?  If not give them a memo to make sure they are! (Elcons can help with this)
  2. What happens if your employee misbehaves at a Christmas party and you have paid for them to drink copious amounts of alcohol? Not a lot as you have exacerbated the behaviour!  Speak to Elcons to get some advice before preferably, but if it all goes wrong, definitely then!
  3. Do you have to look after your employees on their night out? Yes, you need to make sure they get home safely and are not treated detrimentally due to their sex, race etc as it is an ‘extension of the workplace’!
  4. Make sure your managers know that they shouldn’t agree to any pay rises, promotions etc while in the party swing as these may need to be agreed to in the cold light of day!
  5. What if your employees are abusive towards others during the party? You could discipline as it is an extension of the workplace, but it does depends on many factors.  Give Elcons a ring for some free advice!

Royal Marines reservist fired after requesting seven weeks off for training loses appeal

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The EAT upheld a previous tribunal decision from July 2017 that a Royal Marines reservist who was fired by his employer for taking seven weeks of leave to attend a voluntary training exercise was not unfairly dismissed. The company was obliged to accept requests for time off for active service, but the employee had failed to clarify that the training exercise was not compulsory.

Recruiter liable for Christmas party fight that left employee brain damaged

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Overturning a previous decision by the high court, the Court of Appeal ruled that businesses can be held vicariously liable in some circumstances for the actions of their employees even if they take place outside the workplace – in this case, that a recruitment company was liable for the actions of its managing director, who punched an employee at a party outside office hours and left him brain damaged.