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News Update

September 2017

A college lecturer, who told a colleague who was fasting during Ramadan that he should hide food in his beard to eat on the sly, had his claim for unfair dismissal rejected by an employment tribunal.

An ET rejects an employer’s argument that reinstatement was not practicable as a remedy for unfair dismissal and orders that the Claimant be reinstated with 2.7 years' back pay and full pension rights.

The response to consultation on corporate governance reform has been published, which includes a measure requiring quoted companies to report on the ratio of CEO pay to the average pay of their UK workforce.

Employee absence has gone up to a median of 6.6 days per employee, rising to 9.1 days in the public sector, with a total median loss of 2.9% of working time, according to data from XpertHR.

Dismissal fair for telling a fasting colleague to hide food in his beard

In Parker v Blackburn College, Parker (P) was dismissed for gross misconduct after racially harassing colleagues. During Ramadan, the employer found that Parker said to a colleague, Mr Hussain (H), "tell you what mate this fasting is killing you; you look like s**t just look at your eyes" and then suggested H could hide food in his beard to eat on the sly. Later P said, "You'll be all right won't you mate, you could hide a sandwich box in there” [referring to H’s beard]. P had also made comments to a colleague, Mr Yousef, about a friend who was African and had a tan line on his arm where his watch had been. He said he “couldn't believe he had a tan line” and “I didn't think black people could be blacker than they are”.

ET orders reinstatement with 2.7 years’ back pay and restoration of pension rights

In Alvarez v The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, the employer conceded that Alvarez (‘A’) had been unfairly dismissed. ‘A’ did not seek compensation. Instead, she asked for reinstatement under Ss. 114 to 116 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, i.e. reinstate the employee in all respects as if he or she had not been dismissed, where the ET considers it practicable. The ET rejected the employer’s arguments that reinstatement was not practicable. ‘A’’s old role as a legal secretary continued to exist and reinstatement would not lead to overstaffing or redundancies. Furthermore, contrary to the employer’s argument that bringing and then withdrawing discrimination claims destroyed the relationship of trust and confidence, it appeared to the ET that the damage done was limited. The ET therefore ordered reinstatement as a legal secretary, with a lump sum payment to reflect the 2.7 years wages she would have received, and the full restoration of her pension rights.

Response published to consultation on corporate governance reforms

The BEIS have published the Government response to consultation on corporate governance reform. Key workforce measures to be taken include: (i) require quoted companies to report annually the ratio of CEO pay to the average pay of their UK workforce; (ii) Introduce legislation requiring all private and public organisations of significant size to explain how their directors have regard to employee interests; (iii) consult on a new governance principle to strengthen the voice of employees at board level, including requiring premium listed companies to consider adopting one of three employee engagement mechanisms on a ‘comply or explain’ basis. The aim is to bring the reforms into effect by June 2018 to apply to company reporting years commencing on or after that date.

Absence rates on the rise

Employee absence has gone up to a median of 6.6 days per employee, rising to 9.1 days in the public sector, according to data from XpertHR. Personnel Today report that the survey found that employers are losing a median 2.9% of working time to absence, with employers with more than 1,000 staff losing 3.8% of working time, or 8.8 days per employee, compared to 1.8% for those with fewer than 100 employees. The figures for 2016 show a slight rise since 2015 where 2.6% of working time of 5.8 days per employee was lost to absence. The survey also revealed that providing cover for absent employees was estimated to cost £455 per employee per year.


This update provides summary information and comment on the subject areas covered. Where employment tribunal and appellate court cases are reported, the information does not set out all of the facts, the legal arguments presented and the judgments made in every aspect of the case. Click on the links to access full details. If no link is provided, contact us for more information. Employment law is subject to constant change either by statute or by interpretation by the courts. While every care has been taken in compiling this information, SM&B cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. Specialist legal advice must be taken on any legal issues that may arise before embarking upon any formal course of action.

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