Welcome to the first update of 2021! We’re kicking off the year with a selection of interesting cases from the Tribunal, including:
- Indirect discrimination in Heskett v Secretary of State for Justice
- Whistleblowing in Simpson v Cantor Fitzgerald
- Breach of Contract in Palmeri v Charles Stanley
We’ve also got a quick update on National Minimum Wage and IR35 and, yes, we have mentioned the ‘B’ word in a quick update on where we are with employment law following Brexit.
Brexit: What is the impact on UK Employment Law?
The short answer is that generally, we will have to wait and see. Whilst we have seen new rules regarding immigration and the right to work, which we have covered separately, and there is a short reprieve before a decision is made regarding data protection provisions.
The question is, what changes will there be in terms of UK employment law?
Prior to Brexit, there was plenty of speculation that we may see changes in areas such as collective consultation, agency worker regulations or the working time regulations but consider the following:
The agreement reached just before 31st December 2021 has resulted in:
- the government stating that there will be no immediate change to employment law in the UK; and
- the EU and UK agreeing:
- to maintain a “level playing field” most notably by not weakening EU derived labour protection in place before 31/12/20 to the degree that any such changes have a material effect on trade or investment between the EU and the UK; and
- to seek to increase labour protection in the future.
So, what do we know at this stage?
- Currently, save so far as the areas mentioned above impact the workforce (i.e. immigration, the right to work and data protection), no imminent and significant changes to existing labour law protections derived from the EU have been announced.
- Judgements made by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) before 31/12/20 remain binding (unless Parliament amends the legislation upon which the particular ECJ decision was based or our Court of Appeal or Supreme Court decide it is right to depart from the pre-Brexit ECJ judgement)
- ECJ judgements after 31/12/20 are not binding but, where relevant, will probably remain influential for the UK courts.
- Where the EU issues future Directives on labour law, technically the UK is not obliged to implement them as was required pre-Brexit. However, if the UK gains a material advantage in terms of trade or investment by delaying or not introducing such provisions, the EU may well take steps, such as implementing tariffs, to ensure there is a “level playing field” until such time that the UK introduces similar new or enhanced provisions.
- Our courts remain bound by the European Convention on Human Rights
Therefore, we will have to wait and see how the UK’s employment law develops compared to that of the EU, and to what extent any significant divergence may be curtailed by the desire to maintain trading and investment with Europe. There are some potentially interesting times ahead!
Employer Rights to Insist on Covid-19 Vaccinations
As the rollout of the Covid 19 vaccination continues, it raises an interesting question for employers. Can employers make the vaccination a requirement of their workforce? We got together with Stephen and Abayomi, who discuss and debate the topic in this video.
Over the next 3 weeks, we will be running some short webinars concerning Employer Rights to Insist on Vaccinations in relation to the pandemic. We know its a topic hot on the lips of every HR professional at the moment, so we’d love for you to join us!