What We Learned Last Quarter: January 2024

Posted in : Supplementary Articles NI on 11 January 2024
Legal Island
Legal Island
Issues covered: Cybersecurity, Strikes, Deliveroo, Agnew, Holiday Pay, AI

Legal Island's Knowledge team have collated all the updates we sent our 1,000+ Employment Law Hub subscribers in Q4 2023, and it has been a busy one!


As Olga Pollock put it, “What’s all this Chat about AI?”  Is it about to transform the legal profession?  Certainly the courts have paid attention to it, issuing official guidance for staff. It was reported that four-in-five HR professionals aged 25-34 are using AI at work, and, in early December, the world’s first comprehensive laws to regulate artificial intelligence were agreed in a landmark deal after a marathon 37-hour negotiation between the European Parliament and EU member states.

Check out our upcoming workshop demonstrating how the time taken to do today’s typical HR tasks can be streamlined and slashed by up to 50% by clever use of ChatGPT and other AI tools.

Court Decisions

Deliveroo riders are not 'workers', the Supreme Court ruled.  Deliveroo riders have been refused the right to form unions in a landmark decision made by the UK Supreme Court.

And before that, in October, the long-awaited Supreme Court decision in Agnew arrived, causing everyone to cross their “t’s” and dot their “i’s” when it comes to calculating holiday pay.  Ciara Fulton, Lewis Silkin NI LLP, explained the implications for NI and GB, UNISON’s head of legal services, Shantha David, gave her take, and we were on the ball to assist with an excellent webinar featuring our friends, Michelle McGinley and Kathyrn O’Lone at the Employer’s Federation.  (There’s also a helpful Q&A!)

And Jason Elliott BL reviewed the case of A v Company B, Company C & D **, in which an au pair was found to be an employee and had the right not to be unfairly dismissed.

New Legislation

A theme emerged highlighting a divergence between Northern Ireland and its neighbouring jurisdictions.  While new NI regulations appeared in relation to parental bereavement leave, new sexual harassment law came into force in GB, and Christine and Seamus covered it in their December “Employment Law at 11”**.  What if a female employee raised a grievance regarding allegations of sexual harassment and tendered her resignation during the grievance process?  Emma Doherty, Tughans LLP, answered this question** from you.  The Protection from Stalking Act NI 2022 brought Northern Ireland in line with other parts of the UK in relation to Stalking Protection Orders

It can be easy to get confused and frustrated in relation to jurisdictional differences.  Our popular Comparative Law Table was updated on 1st December 2023 to make things easier to understand.

Industrial Action

While a recruitment freeze was lifted in the Northern Ireland Civil Service in order to fill up to 900 vacancies, late 2023 brought with it strikes, strikes and more strikes.  Firstly, the barristers, then the schools planned strikes; Amazon staff hit the headlines, and then everyone was talking about Translink, causing a great deal of people to rethink how to get home from their office Christmas party!

Did somebody say party?  Seamus McGranaghan’s ever reassuring voice was there to advise on “How to Manage your Company’s Christmas Celebrations.” **  But must we ban workplace banter?  Find out what Seamus had to say about it HERE.


“Don’t forget to lock your screen when you’re not at your desk!”  Sound familiar?  It may all sound a bit “doomsday” but indeed cyber-security and data breaches were widely discussed in the news, with many hearing the word “Ransomware” for the first time, advice given on how to reduce the risk of data breaches, eye wateringly high fines making the headlines and predictions that “2024 Will see a Wave of Cyber-attacks.”  Fancy a free demo of Legal Island’s Cyber Security Awareness course?  Click HERE if so.

Other News

In other news, People Management helpfully compiled “10 HR buzzwords of 2023” (Do you know what a “lazy girl job” is?!), the Financial Times listed their “25 Most Influential Women of 2023,” The Fawcett Society claimed the “Motherhood penalty has driven 250,000 women out of jobs,” Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency highlighted “NI's Best and Worst Paid Areas”, Emma Bond won her sex discrimination case against the PSNI and the first transatlantic flight using 100% green fuels took off.

January: A time to reflect, manage those challenging weather scenarios** and look ahead at “What’s Happening in Northern Irish Employment Law in 2024?

Looking forward to spending this year with you!

This article is correct at 11/01/2024

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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