In Brief: Important Updates from March 2018

Posted in : Supplementary Articles NI on 30 March 2018
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Employment Law is a complex area that is continually changing. It can be difficult to keep up to date with the latest developments, but don’t fret, the Northern Ireland Employment Law Hub is the best way to stay informed. The Hub offers in-depth articles written by expert employment lawyers and leading HR professionals, case law analysis and materials tailored specifically to how the law applies in Northern Ireland. It is fully searchable, available 24/7 and has a useful browse by topic function.

In case you missed it… here’s a quick recap of some of the topics that featured in March 2018, including:

  • an unfair dismissal claim before the Supreme Court which questions the long-established Burchell test applied by tribunals when considering the fairness of a dismissal for misconduct;
  • guidance on how to implement homeworking, ensure employee's health and safety, and control confidential information.
  • we answer a number of GDPR-related queries, focusing on the appointment of a data protection officer;
  • we discuss zero-hours contracts, their benefits and when it is appropriate to use them;
  • and a speech from Legal-Island Chairman, Barry Phillips, at the Northern Ireland Equality and Diversity Awards brings unconscious bias to the forefront of attendees’ minds.

Reilly v Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council [2018] UKSC 16

The case is of particular interest as it questions the well-known case of British Homes Stores Ltd v Burchell [1980] ICR 303, which for over 40 years has been applied by tribunals when considering the fairness of a dismissal for misconduct. The thrust of the Burchell decision is that an employer does not need to have conclusive proof of any misconduct, only a genuine and reasonable belief and must conduct a reasonable investigation in order to be able to hold that belief. Lady Hale and Lord Wilson questioned whether the Burchell approach remains the correct one but stopped short of deciding a point of law.

Contract Clauses for Homeworking

According to new research the number of people working from home has increased by a fifth in the last ten years to reach a record 1.5m. There are many benefits to homeworking, provided it is properly managed, namely, a reduction in commuting costs, the ability to manage caring and childcare responsibilities, and the potential for businesses to retain talented staff by offering employees more control over their working time.

In this month’s ‘Essential Guide to Employment Contracts’ article, Kiera Lee, Director and Head of the Employment Department at Mills Selig, recommends reviewing and updating contracts of employment following a flexible working request. Employers should ensure that contracts of employment reflect the changes involved in working at home and any additional obligations involved for the protection of both the employer and employee.

Kiera provides guidance on how to implement homeworking and how to ensure an employee’s health and safety when working from home. She also offers advice on working hours, the maintenance of equipment, the control of confidential information, tax and discrimination.

Q&A: Appointing a Data Protection Officer under the GDPR

Chris Fullerton of Arthur Cox, answers a number of GDPR-related queries, providing guidance on the appointment of a Data Protection Officer, when it will be mandatory and what powers the individual will have. He also clarifies the accountability principle under the new regulation, explaining the need for organisations to demonstrate compliance with data protection principles.

Zero Hours Contracts: Their benefits and when it is appropriate to use them

Rob Tubman, Solicitor in the Employment & Incentives team at A&L Goodbody, discusses the casualisation of contracts, explaining what a zero hours contract is, their benefits and when it is appropriate to use them.

In this video, Rob comments on the rights and entitlements of zero-hours workers and clarifies the position on the use of exclusivity clauses in Northern Ireland, referring to the latest gig economy cases, including Deliveroo and Uber, highlighting the Court’s approach of looking beyond the contract to the reality of the physical working relationship. Rob stresses to employers the importance of complying with their obligations and the need to ensure that arrangements in place accurately reflect the position between the parties.

Removal of an Employee at the Request of a Client: How Do I Handle It?

We have a number of service contracts with large organisations in Northern Ireland.  One of our major clients has asked us to remove our employee from their site.  The client has not complained about the employee’s work performance but instead about allegations of criminal activity against the employee, which were published in a local newspaper. How do I handle it?

Patricia Rooney, Director in the Employment Department at Tughans, offers advice on how to remove or relocate an employee at the request of a client.

Barry Phillips Speech from NI Equality & Diversity Awards 2018

A speech from Legal-Island Chairman Barry Phillips at the Northern Ireland Equality and Diversity Awards at Titanic Belfast last Friday has brought unconscious bias to the forefront of attendees’ minds.

Check out our video highlights reel from the night, along with a full list of the winners, highly commended and shortlisted organisations.

And finally… our favourite news story involved a waiter in Canada fired for "aggressive" and "rude" behaviour towards other staff says he has an excuse: he's French. Arguing his sacking amounts discrimination, Guillaume Rey has filed a complaint with British Columbia's Human Rights Tribunal stating French culture "tends to be more direct and expressive”.


This article is correct at 30/03/2018

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

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