Working Time – Shop Worker’s Automatic Unfair Dismissal Claim Upheld

If you have been sacked for asserting your statutory rights, an employment lawyer will see to it that you are justly compensated. The point was powerfully made by the case of a retail sales assistant who complained that, by instructing her to work on 14 consecutive days, her employer was…

Sep 07, 2021

Pexels oleg magni 1005638 768x1024

If you have been sacked for asserting your statutory rights, an employment lawyer will see to it that you are justly compensated. The point was powerfully made by the case of a retail sales assistant who complained that, by instructing her to work on 14 consecutive days, her employer was treating her like a slave.

The woman was very upset when her employer asked her to work continuously for a fortnight whilst her manager was on holiday. No satisfactory solution was found and the employer refused to engage temporary staff to provide cover. She worked the hours, as instructed, and was given notice of termination of her employment two days after the manager returned from leave.

After she launched proceedings, an Employment Tribunal (ET) found that, prior to her manager going on holiday, she had made a valid assertion that the employer’s instruction that she work 14 days on the trot breached her rights under Regulation 11 of the Working Time Regulations 1998.

However, the ET dismissed her claim that she had been automatically unfairly dismissed for asserting a statutory right, contrary to Section 104 of the Employment Rights Act 1996. It did so on the basis that, when she made the assertion, the alleged breach of her rights was only anticipated or threatened.

Upholding her challenge to that outcome, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) found that, in order for her claim to succeed, it was not necessary for her to have worked the instructed hours prior to making the assertion. It was the employer’s instruction itself that was alleged to have infringed her rights and her assertion thus fell within the ambit of Section 104.

She had made the assertion in good faith and it did not matter whether it was well-founded. The ET had made a clear finding that her complaint about her working hours was the principal reason for her dismissal. In the circumstances, the EAT substituted a finding that her dismissal was automatically unfair. The amount of her compensation would be assessed at a further hearing, if not agreed.

Right to Disconnect

Article from the Financial News - Friday August 27th 2021 When the pandemic struck, many businesses were forced to remove staff from the office and set them up at home at short notice. In the past 17 months, businesses have worked effectively with staff working from home. Productivity has increased, and staff have found that a more flexible working pattern has enabled a better work-life balance for many. Now that home schooling has become a distant memory, we hear that parents, grandparents and…

Online Seller of Toxic ‘Food Supplement’ Responsible for Student’s Death

Selling dangerous chemicals to potentially vulnerable shoppers online, under the guise of alleged health or other benefits, is a common source of profit for amoral traders. As a Court of Appeal ruling showed, however, judges are tackling the issue and coming down hard on those responsible for such abuses. The case concerned a 21-year-old student who had a history of mental health issues and eating disorders. She suffered a fatal cardiac arrest after taking eight capsules of a chemical that she…

Employer Cleared of Liability for Disruptive Pupil’s Attack on Teacher

Teaching troubled children whose behaviour may be challenging, even violent, is not for the faint hearted. However, as the Court of Appeal emphasised in an important ruling, schools can only do what is reasonable to protect staff from injury. The case concerned a teacher who was injured when a six-year-old child became violent whilst being segregated in a room set aside for calming down disruptive pupils. Her soft tissue injuries healed within weeks, but she lodged a substantial compensation…