unfair dismissal

Having a policy isn’t always enough

In the day job we advise many employers on the need to have their paperwork in order, to have a set of properly drafted employment documents such as contracts and a staff handbook. Having a policy in place for a given situation helps the smooth running of the business and ensures that all employees know what is expected of them. In case of problems arising then if a policy has been drafted and adhered to, it can assist to resolve disciplinary issues or, if required, to justify dismissal of a misbehaving employee. However, this is not necessarily always the panacea to all problems in the workplace. A recent case (Stimpson v CitiBank) shows that employers need to be reasonable in the way they apply those policies and they should not slavishly adhere to their terms, particularly if the policy is not followed in practice.

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Have I Been Unfairly Dismissed?

Being dismissed from your place of employment can be extremely stressful whether it is unfair or not. However, if it is an unfair dismissal, claiming compensation may not be your first thought despite the fact that you could be owed a substantial amount.

Once you have identified whether or not you have been unfairly dismissed, your next decision will be whether you would like to go ahead with claiming compensation from your former employer.

This can be difficult as you may have had an amiable relationship for a long time, however, as you are now facing an uncertain time as a newly unemployed person, having some financial stability could be of benefit.

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C’Mon Everybody … Do the Harlem Shake


What do an Oxford Librarian, a school teacher and a group of miners in Western Australia have in common?

Answer: they’ve all been sacked for performing the Harlem Shake at work.

The Harlem Shake, m’lud, is the latest You Tube craze in which groups of people dance in a wild, unco-ordinated fashion, in fancy dress,  to a piece of music by a fellow called Baauer. It’s not to be confused with the song “Harlem Shuffle” by the Rolling Stones, a band with whom you might be familiar m’lud.  Yes, you may have seen it at the English National Ballet, m’lud.

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Should I Involve the Press?


One issue that clients often raise is whether they should involve the media when they get into dispute with their (former) employer. My usual response is that it is not helpful to do so.  The media has its own agenda and what might seem like a good way of heaping pressure on an employer, can backfire. There’s always more than one side to every story and while it might be gratifying to see the Press door-stepping your former boss, I doubt it is as pleasant when it’s your own doorbell they’re pushing.

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No Consultation Always Equals Unfair Dismissal?

Can a redundancy without any warning or consultation ever be a fair dismissal?

In most cases the result will be an unfair dismissal.  However, in the case of Ashby v JJB Sports PLC the employer was held to have acted fairly in not warning or consulting Mr Ashby about his redundancy.

The facts were fairly specific so most employers would be well advised not to try and rely on this case.

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Employment Reforms: Back to the Future?


The Government today announced reforms of employment law. After all the consultations, leaked reports and speculation we finally know what the government intends to do to reform employment law so as to stimulate the economy and “give firms more flexibility and confidence in managing their workforce and to reduce employment law red tape.

So, to try and reach this state of nirvana the government proposes to consult on (yes, consult, not introduce)

  • Introducing settlement agreements “to help end employment relationships in a fair and consensual way” (umm, isn’t this what compromise agreements do?). ACAS will produce a new Code of Conduct.
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Death in Service: Who Benefits?


One of the most valuable employee perks around is death in service benefit. It’s a form of life insurance and pays out if an employee dies whilst employed by that business. The benefit is provided by an insurance company as a stand alone policy or it might be part of the company’s occupational pension scheme.

Usually it will pay three or four times salary to the estate of the deceased employee and because it can usually be nominated into trust to a recipient it can pass outside the deceased’s estate for IHT purposes. It’s therefore worth having.

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But it’s only Banter …


Don’t you just love it? Whenever dodgy or discriminatory words are used in the workplace and the whole sorry episode comes to be repeated (or replayed) in a disciplinary hearing, or (worse still) an ET, the stock excuse comes out: “it was only banter”, “I was only joking, nothing was meant by it”, which is roughly on a par with “the dog ate my homework, miss”.

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Redundancy – Have You Got The Right Pool?


We see a lot of employees who are being made redundant.  One of the issues that comes up time and time again is why they were selected.  Unless the role is unique then, usually, a selection pool is necessary to decide how to select the unlucky people for redundancy.  The composition of that pool can cause problems, such as was the case in Capita Hartshead Ltd v Byard, an EAT case, where the selection pool comprised one individual.

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The Long Arm of (Employment) Law Just Got Longer?





Just how far does the long arm of the Employment Tribunal stretch when considering unfair dismissal? Last week the Supreme Court gave its Judgment in the case of Ravat v Halliburton Manufacturing and Services Ltd and the answer may well now be that the reach of the ET has just got longer.  S.94(1) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 provides that an employee has the right not to be unfairly dismissed. This does not present problems where the employee is working in Britain. However, it becomes an issue if the employee is working overseas.  In what circumstances can an employee claim protection under British law not to be unfairly dismissed?

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