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Employment Law June Newsletter

Employment Law June Newsletter
28th June 2016 John Fowlers

Journeys to and from work

A recent European Court of Justice decision has clarified that the Working Time Regulations do apply to the journeys to and from work for travelling workers and it is unlawful for employers to simply disregard them. The decision in Federacion de Servicios Privados del sindicato Comisiones Obreras v Tyco IS includes workers based at a fixed office, but who travel distances from home to external sites to work. These workers should now take into account their journey times to and from work to make sure they do not breach these regulations (assuming they have not “opted-out”). Employers should take into account this recent decision and make changes accordingly.

Commissions and annual leave

When working out annual leave pay, employers must look at the amount the employee earned in the 12 weeks preceding their time off. Traditionally, this meant looking at only the basic pay rate plus any over-time they would usually work, but after the recent decision in Lock v British Gas, employers should include commission earnings in this figure too. The effect of this decision also means that employees who have taken annual leave in the last three months, may be due reimbursement if their payment did not include commissions.

Management and HR

In September of last year, the Employment Tribunal decided that HR should not influence management when deciding whether or not to dismiss that employee. In Ramphal v Department for Transport an employee was being investigated over expense discrepancies. Whilst deciding whether to dismiss the employee or not, the manager spoke to HR who persuaded them to dismiss the employee, which the manager did. The Employment Tribunal held this to be an unfair dismissal stating that “a claimant facing disciplinary charges and a dismissal procedure is entitled to expect that the decision will be taken by the appropriate officer, without having been lobbied by other parties”. This means that whilst investigating employees, any decisions should be made subjectively and as independently as possible in the situation.

Mental health considerations for employers

The role of effective and considerate management in business with regard to the mental well-being of employees cannot be overstated. Employers often overlook mental health considerations in their businesses, despite owing a duty of care to their employees. With recent campaigns to de-stigmatise mental health in the workplace, employees are more willing to discuss issues with employers, and so employers need to be able to understand and make reasonable adjustments for those that need it. This could involve different work patterns, increased break frequency, seeking outside support; this just scratches the surface. It is important for employers to have this good relationship with their employees as without reasonable adjustments, litigation may soon follow.

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