Thursday 29 September 2005

Redundancy Consultation

The EAT decision in Leicestershire City Council v UNISON has just been placed on the EAT website.

Leicestershire City Council were renegotiating terms and conditions for about 2,600 employees. As commonly happens, they gave notice of dismissal and offered new jobs on new terms. This consitutes a 'redundancy' for the purpose of the collective consultation obligations in s188 of TULR(C)A 1998.

The EAT (HHJ McMullen QC presiding) upheld the tribunal's decision that the time for consultation (ie when the dismissals were 'proposed') began when the practical decision had been taken by the Council's staff - notwithstanding that it needed a formal political vote/decision by the Council to ratify it - and not when the Council voted in favour of the decision to dismiss / re-hire.

This was consistent with the ECJ decision in Junk v Kuhnel, namely that consultation must take place before the decision to dismiss was taken.

The EAT also upheld the award of 90 days' pay (by way of protective award) to a large group of the workforce. It considered that the fact the employer had provided information before the technical obligation to consult arose did not mean that there must be an automatic reduction from the presumed 90 days' pay (as set out in Susie Radin). The protective award to another section of the workforce was reduced (on fact-specific grounds).

Leicestershire City Council v UNISON

Tuesday 27 September 2005

Compulsory ET1 and ET3 Forms

As subscribers will know, use of the 'official' ET1 and ET3 forms becomes compulsory from next week.

Following comments made at user group meetings in Cardiff and Bristol, it seems tribunal staff are being trained to accept and reject the following...

Acceptable from 1st October 2005
  • riders (i.e. separate attached sheets);
  • a pdf version of the forms which will soon appear on the Emplotment Tribunals website which can be downloaded and completed offline (the ETS will be providing software to enable users to fill in these forms - I am told this is likely to happen over the weekend);
  • faxed ET1 / ET3 forms; and
  • black and white photocopies of ET1 / ET3 forms (but note that the coloured guidance notes and text boxes on the forms may not reproduce on a b&w photocopy).

Not acceptable from 1st October 2005
  • any in-house or commercial version that is not produced by the ETS.
Note that the reason for requiring the forms to be asbolutely identical to the prescribed version is to enable them to be scanned in to the new ETS case management system.

The administrative staff at the tribunal offices have all received extensive training in what forms to accept (and reject!) from next week.

The lesson is simple: use the official forms. If you don't have them, they are available on the ETS website.

Further information can be obtained from the Employment Tribunals Service Public Enquiry Line on 0845 7959775.

ETS website - download forms from here

[Thanks to Barry Clarke of Russell Jones & Walker for providing the above information]

Tuesday 20 September 2005

Commission for Racial Equality

The Commission for Racial Equality has just published its 'Race Equalty Scheme' for 2005-2008, setting out the way in which it intends to meet its obligations under the Race Relations Act 1976. Click here to view the Scheme.

It has also just published, on its website, a case law database for court decisions relating to race discrimination. Click here for access.

Wednesday 7 September 2005

Unfair Dismissal Time Limits

The EAT has handed down a decision restating the importance of a solicitor ensuring he does not leave presentation of the Claim Form to the last day.

The Claimant instructed solicitors a week after she was dismissed. The firm, which had only one employment lawyer, was extremely busy and the lawyer concerned adopted a 'time-bar list' approach, i.e. leaving cases to just before the limitation deadline before dealing with them.

On the Friday (before time expired on the following Monday), the solicitor was about to go on holiday but told his secretrary to fax the Claim Form on the Monday morning. She fell ill over the weekend, did not work on Monday, and faxed the Claim Form on Tuesday, i.e. one day late.

The tribunal (sitting at Dundee) held it was not reasonably practicable for the Claim Form to be presented within three months, as the failure to present the claim in time was caused by an unforeseen absence by the solicitor's secretary.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (HHJ Serota QC presiding) held that this conclusion was wrong in law because the tribunal only looked at the events of the last few days. What it should have done was look at the entire three month period - and there was no good reason why the Claim Form could not have been presented earlie. It reaffirmed cases stating that if a solicitor leaves presenting the Claim Form until the last moment, he does so at his own risk.

Agrico v Ireland

Managing Change: Practical Ways to reduce long hours and reform working practices

The DTI has just published the booklet: Managing Change - Practical Ways to reduce long hours and reform working practices. This is a joint project between the TUC, CBI and DTI.

The booklet identifies practical ways of implementing change management programmes in the workplace and share this learning between businesses.

It is very much aimed at HR practitioners rather than lawyers. But there is a case study of working practices at Eversheds (where flexible working seems to be huge success) - see p20.

Download booklet here (large file - 1.8Mb - Adobe Acrobat required)

Friday 2 September 2005

London Central Tribunal

Some information for aficionados of the London Central tribunal...

Their phone systems and Email systems have been down since (about) the beginning of the week. They now have intermittent phone access and 'slow' - whatever that means - Email access.

So if you think you're being ignored, don't panic (unless you're facing a time limit - in which case, panic!). I am told they do not know when normal service is to be resumed.