Employment law - Top 5 cases

News on 09 May 2019

Employment law - The top 5 cases

Employment law will have an impact on your business, no matter how large or small it is. We thought we'd put together the top 5 employment law cases that we thought you'd need to know about. 

1. Suspension

In the case of Mayor and Burgesses of the London Borough of Lambeth v Agoreyo, the High Court held that the suspension of a teacher following allegations that she had used unreasonable force to deal with pupils breached the implied term of trust and confidence.

This decision has now been overturned by the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal has held that the High Court had erred in considering whether the suspension was necessary. The only test is whether there is reasonable and proper cause to suspend the employee and whether the suspension destroys or seriously damages the relationship of trust and confidence.

This is a helpful decision for employers but, when considering whether to suspend an employee, it is still important that it is not a knee jerk reaction and that it has been properly thought through and alternatives have been considered. It is also important that any decision to suspend is well-documented.

2. Working time            

Under the Working Time Regulations, a worker has a right to an unpaid rest break of 20 minutes when working for more than 6 hours a day, unless a specific exemption applies, in which case the worker should be given an equivalent period of compensatory rest.

The EAT had held in the case of Network Rail Infrastructure v Crawford that it was necessary to provide an uninterrupted break of 20 minutes and that rest breaks could not be aggregated, even though in this case the railway signalman was able to take lots of short breaks during his shift.

The Court of Appeal has now reversed the EAT’s decision and has held that compensatory rest does not need to be an uninterrupted 20-minute break. This is a helpful decision for employers and means that, where a specific exemption applies, there may be more flexibility when setting shift rotas.
In the case of Grange v Abellio London Ltd, the EAT has held that compensation for a breach of a worker’s right to a rest break may include an award for personal injury. In this case, the worker suffered no financial loss and the tribunal decided it was just and equitable to award £750.00 on the basis that the lack of rest breaks was more than a minor inconvenience and would have had some adverse impact, even though there was no medical evidence presented.

Employers should ensure that their working arrangements allow their workers to take a twenty-minute rest break, unless a specific exception applies. If there is supporting medical evidence, a tribunal award for personal injury in these circumstances could be more substantial.

3. Agency Workers

In the recent case of London Underground Ltd v Amissah, the Court of Appeal has held that the end-user of agency staff was liable for payments to be made to agency workers in respect of underpayments where it had previously made the payments to the agency but the agency had failed to pass the payments on to the workers and then become insolvent. 

In this case, London Underground had paid workers engaged through an agency less than comparable London Underground staff. London Underground then made a payment to the agency to cover the underpayment. However, the agency dishonestly failed to pass this on to the workers and then became insolvent.

The Court of Appeal held that, as London Underground had chosen to deal with that agency, they should bear the risk of the agency’s dishonesty and insolvency, rather than the Claimants, even if it meant that London Underground may end up paying twice for the breach.

4. Confidentiality Clauses

On 4 March 2019, the Government published a consultation on proposals to regulate the use of confidentiality clauses (also known as "non-disclosure agreements"), due to concern that these clauses are being used to silence victims of unlawful harassment or discrimination. The consultation sought views on measures to limit their misuse, including: by making it clear that victims cannot be prevented by a clause in an employment contract or settlement agreement from speaking to the police or reporting a crime; by requiring all confidentiality clauses to set out which disclosures are not prohibited by a confidentiality clause; by making confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements that do not comply with wording requirements void; and by extending the scope of independent advice that a worker must receive before signing a settlement agreement to include advice on the limits of any confidentiality clause.

The consultation period ended on 29 April 2019 and the feedback is currently being analysed. We will keep you updated on any developments.

5. Extending Redundancy Protection for Women and New Parents


On 25 January 2019, the Government published a consultation seeking views on extending redundancy protection for women and new parents.

One proposal includes consolidating the current redundancy protection afforded to those on maternity leave (regarding the right to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy) to cover those who are pregnant or who are in a protected period of 6 months after returning from maternity leave. Another question being considered is whether this extended protection should apply to other types of family leave such as adoption leave or shared parental leave.

The consultation period ended on 5 April 2019 and the feedback is currently being analysed. We will let you know the outcome of this consultation as soon as it has been published.


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