Employment Law Newsletter Spring 2018

Spring 2018

Surge in employment tribunal claims

The abolition of employment tribunal fees in July 2017 has resulted in a surge in employment tribunal claims, with the number of single claims nearly doubling in the last quarter of 2017. With the risk of litigation that much higher, employers would be well advised to take legal advice when managing in situations such as dismissals, which could result in claims.

Employment tribunal claim struck out after Claimant speaks to journalist in the middle of giving evidence

Chidzoy v BBC is a cautionary tale, emphasizing the rule that witnesses should not discuss their evidence with others whilst under oath. In that case, the Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld an employment tribunal’s decision to strike out a claim on the ground of the Claimant’s unreasonable conduct in discussing her case with a journalist during an adjournment while she was still under oath.

The Claimant, a BBC television reporter, brought whistleblowing and sex discrimination claims against the BBC, which were listed for an 11 day hearing. On the third day of her cross-examination, when the tribunal adjourned for a comfort break, she was warned by the Employment Judge, as she had been before each adjournment during the course of her evidence, that she remained under oath and was not to discuss her evidence or any aspect of the case with any person during the adjournment.

During the adjournment, she was seen in discussion with a journalist and overheard discussing the questions put to her in cross-examination.

The Respondent successfully applied for strike out, citing unreasonable conduct by the Claimant and the impossibility of a fair hearing. The tribunal held that Claimant’s conduct was unreasonable, that the breakdown in trust meant that it could no longer conduct a fair trial, and that it was proportionate to strike out the claim. The decision was upheld by the EAT.

Limits on employment tribunal awards, statutory redundancy pay and other statutory payments to increase from April 2018

The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2018 was laid before parliament, and came into force on 6 April 2018.

Limits on employment tribunal awards and statutory payments will be increased by 3.9%, in line with the retail price index.

Key increases are:

–        the maximum limit for a week’s pay (for redundancy payments and the unfair dismissal basic award) increases to £508 (from £489)

–                the maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal claims increases to £83,682 (from £80,541)

The increase will apply where the effective date of termination falls on or after 6 April 2018.

Increase in National Minimum Wage from 1 April 2018

The National Minimum Wage has also been uprated. Key changes:

–                the National Living Wage (age 25+) increases to £7.83 per hour (from £7.50)

–                the Standard Adult Rate (age 21+) increases to £7.38 per hour (from £7.05)

–                the Development Rate (age 18-20) increases to £5.90 per hour (from £5.60)

–                the Apprentice Rate (age 16-17) increases to £3.70 per hour (from £3.50)