Monday, December 18th, 2017 posted in Inspire News

It’s the final update of 2017 and as The Last Jedi is out today, I’ve given the update a Star Wars theme, with gifs in the “Employment Law in the News” and gags in the “Caselaw” so if you’re one of that lot who only read the jokes at the end, you’ll miss out on extra hilarity. Serves you right.

Q: Why do Stormtroopers listen to Megan Trainor?
A: Because “They’re all about that base, ’bout that base, no rebels.”


The Nutt Job

In Nutt v Scottish and Southern Energy plc, the Claimant was as a shift trader.

A conflict arose between him and management regarding health and safety and shift patterns.

He reportedly lodged a grievance and was subsequently signed-off work with stress.

The Respondent subsequently dismissed him for gross misconduct on the basis that he refused to accept the grievance outcome.

He lodged a claim of unfair dismissal.

An employment judge found in his favour and criticised the Respondent stating they had “made a complete mess of the disciplinary process”. The judge has ordered the Respondent to:

  • pay the Claimant £136,895 as compensation for lost earnings; and
  • re-engage him, by January, in a job at the same level of seniority and grade as his previous role.

Absolutely fair play to him. Absolutely. But… I’ve never understood why anyone would want to go back to work for an employer who has to be ordered to take them.

I wonder if the Respondent will comply with the re-engagement order.

Click here to read the merits judgment. The written remedy hearing judgment isn’t available yet so click here to read the article.

Q: What do you call a nervous Jedi?
A: Panicking Skywalker.

There’s a rat on mi runway, what am I gonna do? 

In Cooke v LHR Airports Limited, part of the Claimant’s job was to shoot birds and rats on the runway at Heathrow.

The incident he was fired for occurred after he signed out a shotgun and went to the control room.

According to the investigating officer’s report: “Following… some reported swearing it is reported that he swung a broken shotgun into the cocked position with the barrels ending up pointing at [a colleague] and within close proximity of his face / upper body area”.

He lodged a claim of unfair and constructive dismissal. He told the tribunal:

  • it was an accident;
  • the Respondent was looking for an excuse to sack him as he was paid “substantially more” than some of his colleagues;
  • the gun had slid, leading him to tilt his arm upwards, causing the firearm to close and leaving it pointing at his colleague;
  • he panicked and ran away with the closed gun over his shoulder; and
  • the firearm wasn’t loaded.

Not surprisingly, the employment judge wasn’t convinced and he lost his claim.

Click here to read the judgment.

Q: Why did the Ewok fall out of the tree?
A: It was dead.

Employment Tribunal claims

And in the least surprising news of the week….the number of employment tribunal claims being brought has doubled in some areas since the Supreme Court declared tribunal fees were unlawful, users have reported.

According to the National User Group of Employment Tribunals, although the effect of the decision is yet to be fully felt, ‘the signs are there that claims are beginning to return’.

No doubt there will be a mix of “Hooray” and “Boo” from those reading this.

Click here to read the article.

Q: Where do Siths go shopping?
A: The Darth Maul

Employment Law in the News

Rogue (One) Employers

260 employers have been “named and shamed” for failing to give staff the national minimum wage.

HMRC identified 16,000 workers who were owed a total of £1.7m in back pay.

Sports Direct failed to pay £167,000 to 383 workers – (About £436 each).

A Sports Direct spokesman said: “This matter relates to [an] historical situation in our warehouse in 2016 for which we apologised at the time. We co-operated fully with HMRC to make back payments to staff who were affected.”

Primark failed to pay over £230,000 owed to more than 9,700 workers – (About £23.71 each).

Business minister Margot James said: “There is no excuse for not paying staff the wages they’re entitled to. That’s why we are naming hundreds of employers.”

The general secretary of the TUC, Frances O’Grady, said: “Today’s list should put the frighteners on rogue employers across the country.”

I’m not sure I’m all in favour of this “naming and shaming”.

It would be fair enough if it was definitely deliberate non-payment but it’s the big names which get all the negative publicity and surely the underpayment by those companies is just an error rather than some grand Sith plot?

Say what you like about Mike Ashley but I am prepared to publicly state that I do not believe he is a Sith Lord. Firstly, Darth Mike sounds ridiculous; and secondly, he said under oath in court: “I’m not Obi Wan Kenobi in charge of the Death Star” – He doesn’t have a clue about Star Wars.

Click here to read the article.

Not a Phantom Menace 

Bullying and sexual harassment are prevalent across the TV industry, according to a joint Edinburgh International TV Festival (EITF) and Channel 5 News.

The investigation found:

• Of 315 respondents, more than two-thirds said they had been bullied in the workplace;

• More than half of people surveyed, from producers to commissioners, had experienced sexual misconduct in the workplace;

• 84% of those who experienced sexual harassment did not report it;

• Only 47% of those surveyed understood their rights in respect of taking action at work over bullying or sexual harassment;

• Freelancers who had been bullied or harassed often stayed silent because “today’s bully is tomorrow’s boss”; and

• The majority of those who suffered harassment said it had occurred within the past five years.

The EITF’s director, Lisa Campbell, said: “We need to make a change, and talking about these issues is the first step to addressing and stopping them for good.”

Former high court judge Dame Janet Smith – who led the Savile inquiry – said she was “not surprised” by the results. She said a major problem was the “culture of fear” which existed across the media world as well as a lack of job security.

Of course, sexual harassment and bullying isn’t exclusive to the TV industry, as the below article shows*.

Click here to read the article.

*I’m quite pleased with myself about that seamless link. Obviously, this bit has ruined it slightly so probably best ignore it.

The Force Awakens

A BBC survey of more than 6,000 men and women in the UK has found:


  • Two in five women say they have experienced unwanted sexual behaviour at work and only a quarter of them reported it;
  • One in five men said they have been harassed at work;
  • 43% of those in flexible working (including those on zero hours contracts, self-employed, freelancers and gig economy workers) had experienced some form of sexual harassment at work;
  • 42% of over-55-year-olds and 30% of 18-34-year-olds agreed with the phrase: “Looking back over my working life, I have witnessed behaviour that I now believe to constitute sexual harassment but didn’t think it at the time”;
  • There was a general optimism among most people surveyed that recent scandals would bring sustained improvements in behaviour, but almost a third thought the scandals were irrelevant to people’s behaviour; and
  • Confidence that things would change was highest among younger people – three quarters of 18 to 34-year-olds expected to see long-term changes in behaviour, while about a third of over-65s had their doubts.

I’ve said this before but bullies and harassers are like vampires. They live and thrive in the shadows. Drag them into the sunlight and they die. Am I saying that sexual harassment policies should be based on Salem’s Lot? Well… I’m not not saying that.

Click here to read the article.

Rey could be a Jedi… The Last Jedi

The gender pay gap is perpetuated by teenage girls who want jobs that pay less, according to research by University College London’s Institute for Education.

The research found that:

• On average, girls thought they had a 71% chance of going to university, and 14% of girls were certain they would go. Meanwhile, the average expectation of boys was 63%, and just under 10% were sure they would go to university.

• The average hourly wage for the occupations that girls aspired to was 27% or £6.49 lower than boys.

• For girls, the most popular jobs that they aspired to were the medical profession, secondary school teacher, singer, lawyer, vet, nurse and midwife. For boys, it was sportsman, software developer, engineer, soldier, architect and secondary school teacher.

• Boys chose occupations with an average workforce that is 74% male, while girls chose jobs where women make up 59% of the workforce.

Dr Sam Parsons, study co-author, said: “Despite aiming high academically and professionally, girls appear to be aiming for less well-paid jobs.”

Professor Lucinda Platt, co-author, said teenagers should be “encouraged and supported to think beyond gender stereotypes” and consider a full range of career options.

As the father of a 9-month-old daughter/ future Jedi, I agree!

Click here to read the article.

The Empire doesn’t back strikes

Ryanair passengers face disruption to their Christmas travel plans after pilots and crew announced industrial action in a bid to win union recognition and better conditions.

According to BBC News, 79 pilots based in Dublin will strike for one day on 20 December.

Ryanair seemed pretty relaxed about the whole thing and said the Dublin staff who planned to strike were a “small group of pilots who are working their notice and will shortly leave Ryanair, so they don’t care how much upset they cause colleagues or customers”.

If both of those statements are correct, it means 79 Ryanair pilots in Dublin are working their notice. That sounds like quite a lot – especially as they are, according to the airline, about 28% of its Dublin-based pilots.

Top tip: Liven up even the most mundane actions by playing the Ryanair fanfare upon completion, such as: putting the bins out, loading the dishwasher or even going to the toilet.

Click here to read the article.

If you would like advice on any of the issues raised in this week’s update, or indeed on any employment law issue, please email me or call me on 0113 468 8523 or 07538 237 920.

Have a great weekend, Christmas and New Year. See you in 2018. Unless I die of gluttony in the next few weeks.


D: 07538 237 920
T: 03330 143 401