UK Employment Round-Up - December 2016

Our Monthly Review Of Key Cases And New Law Affecting Employers

We are finishing 2016 with a rundown of some of the key cases since the summer.

The Mayer Brown Employment Group wishes you a very happy Christmas.

Shared Parental Leave: The first Employment Tribunal decision

Snell v Network Rail Infrastructure Limited

Mr Snell and his wife (both Network Rail employees) informed Network Rail that they wanted to take shared parental leave ("SPL") for their child. Network Rail's policy provided that partners/secondary adopters have 39 weeks SPL paid at the statutory rate, and 13 weeks unpaid leave, with mothers and primary adopters being provided for 26 weeks at full pay.

At the Employment Tribunal, the only issue remaining was on quantum, as Mr Snell had withdrawn his direct discrimination claim and Network Rail had admitted indirect discrimination (changing its SPL policy so that both the mother and father got shared parental leave at the statutory rate only). Mr Snell was awarded damages of over £28,000, which included an injury to feelings award of £6,000.

The importance of this case is to review your shared parental leave policy to ensure that it is drafted to set out clearly what type of leave the person is taking. Network Rail's policy had not differentiated between different types of parental leave. In fact, Mrs Snell had been on maternity leave, so the key point is to ensure that a family-friendly policy makes it clear what type of leave is being taken and, therefore, what the payment is for. Clarity should also be given to what period of entitlement is being paid for. Often, shared parental leave will be taken after a period of maternity leave has been taken. The policy should reflect that shared parental leave which is taken at, say, 22 weeks after birth is at week 22, and will not be recalculated as if it is starting at week one. If we can help to review your policy, please let us know.

Status and the "GIG" economy

Aslam, Farrar and others v Uber BV and others

This is a very current theme. A recent survey by Intuit suggested that, in the US, 40% of American workers would be independent contractors by 2020. There are a number of other cases waiting to be heard about independent workers and their rights.

This case turned on whether Uber drivers were "workers". The Tribunal concluded that Uber had sufficient control over the drivers to establish worker status and the drivers should be treated as workers whilst logged onto the Uber app. These periods of time would also qualify as working time under the Working Time Directive, with them being additionally classed as "unmeasured work" for the purposes of calculating national minimum wage requirements.

This is, in some ways, a surprising decision. Drivers own their cars, they are responsible for all running costs and are not required to wear a uniform. They do not need to work a minimum number of hours and the contract is between the driver and the passenger. Uber argues that its role was the provision of a technology platform which effectively enabled drivers to meet customers.

However, the Employment Tribunal analysed the relationship and said that the drivers had to drive a route set by the app as this calculated the fare that they would be paid. They were paid directly by Uber, who subtracted a service fee of 20% to 25% for them using the app. Uber also dealt with any complaints.

This is likely to be a "watch this space" area in the next few months.

Working Time Regulations: Workers have an automatic right to rest breaks without asking for them

Grange v Abellio London Limited

All workers with daily working time in excess of six hours are entitled to a rest break of 20 minutes.

In this case, the Claimant had originally worked eight and a half hours, with half an hour's rest. In practical terms, it was proving difficult for the Claimant to take that rest break as the job was a very...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT