Lords' ruling could mean bigger claims
Simon Quantrill of Quantrills Solicitors explains recent developments in employment law, including a House of Lords ruling on unpaid holiday pay.A HOUSE of Lords' decision last week has made it easier for workers to bring claims for unpaid statutory holiday pay owed to them under the Working Time Regulations 1998.
Simon Quantrill of Quantrills Solicitors explains recent developments in employment law, including a House of Lords ruling on unpaid holiday pay.
A HOUSE of Lords' decision last week has made it easier for workers to bring claims for unpaid statutory holiday pay owed to them under the Working Time Regulations 1998.
Up to now the leading case law said that employees' only remedy was under the regulations. This meant they had to make a claim to the Employment Tribunal within three months from the date of each non-payment of holiday pay. This was inconvenient and an administration burden for the tribunal service.
The House of Lords has decided that the non-payment of statutory holiday pay amounts to the non-payment of “wages” and therefore can be included in a claim for “unauthorised deduction of wages” under the Employment Rights Act 1996.
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The advantage to the employee is that claimants now have three months from the last date in a series of deductions to claim. In practice, this means some employers may face high value claims going back many years.
n Where an employee's grievance is upheld by his or her employer, this can remedy a breach of the implied term of trust and confidence.
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Last month in the case of Bournemouth University Higher Education Corporation v Buckland, the employee raised a grievance which was investigated, with the outcome being in the employee's favour.
Nevertheless the employee remained unhappy and he resigned. The Employment Appeal Tribunal held that as the grievance had been upheld before the employee resigned this remedied any breach of contract and therefore there was no valid claim for constructive unfair dismissal.
While this outcome will no doubt be welcomed by employers, care must be taken because this case may not help in every case where a grievance is upheld. For example, simply exonerating an employee accused of professional misconduct may not be enough; the employer may be expected to apologise and deal with any informant acting in bad faith or to communicate the outcome of the grievance to other staff members.
If an employee's grievance is upheld, the prudent employer will not only make his finding clear to the employee but will also give thought to any additional steps which should be taken to “repair the damage”. The scope for the employee to argue a fundamental breach of contract will then be reduced.
n Length of service may be a valid criterion in selection for redundancy. In a recent case concerning Rolls Royce plc the Court of Appeal held that the use of length of service as a “deciding factor” in a redundancy selection matrix is lawful.
However, this case must not be read as giving employers the go ahead to rely on length of service in every redundancy selection exercise. What is important is that length of service may be a valid criterion as part of a wider list of selection criteria and may be a valid deciding factor to make a selection between two employees who have the same scores.