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News Update

March 2018

The ECJ rule that stand-by time which requires a worker to spend at home but to respond to calls within 8 minutes is ‘working time’ as it very significantly restricts the opportunities to carry out other activities.

The EAT hold that the concerns raised about compliance issues purely out of concern for a worker’s own personal liability, were not protected disclosures because they were not in the wider public interest.

Minutes of the ET National User Group meeting show there has been a 100% increase in single claims received since the abolition of ET fees, with management information showing a stable and consistent recovery.

With snow falling in many parts of the country, travel conditions may be difficult and Acas have issued a reminder about their advice on how employers and employees should consider the impact on the workplace.

Employer constraints means on call time is ‘working time’

In Ville de Nivelles v Matzak, Matzak (M) is a firefighter, who is required to be on standby at certain times, which is unpaid, other than when carrying out firefighting duties. When on-call, the employer requires that M be contactable and report to the fire station within 8 minutes, meaning that his activities during standby are restricted. The ECJ held that M’s stand-by time is ‘working time’ under the Working Time Directive. The determining factor in such circumstances is the requirement that the worker be physically present at the place determined by the employer and be immediately available to work. Here, the employer’s requirements mean M’s ability to devote himself to his personal and social interests are limited, which is different to stand-by duty where a worker simply has to be contactable.

Disclosures made purely for self-interest were not protected

Protection against detriment or dismissal for whistleblowing applies where a worker makes a disclosure in the public interest that one or more of six specified wrongdoings has taken place. In Parsons v Airplus International Limited, Parsons (P) was a Legal and Compliance Officer. After warnings about her poor performance were unheeded, she was dismissed six weeks into the role because of a ‘cultural misfit’. The EAT agreed with the ET that she had not been dismissed for whistleblowing. The concerns she had raised about non-compliance were solely made in P’s self-interest, i.e. protecting herself against personal liability, and were not in the wider public interest. In any event, the reason for P’s dismissal was her inability to explain her concerns, her failure to listen to others and her rudeness.

ET management information shows 100% increase in claims 

At the ET National User Group meeting, the ET President informed members that since the Supreme Court decision which abolished fees, there had been a doubling (c100% increase) of single claims received compared with the period immediately preceding the decision. Measuring the increase in single claims was a more accurate basis than counting multiple claims or multiple cases, which were always variable. The management information since the Unison decision satisfied the President that the recovery in claims was stable and consistent.

Acas guidance on snow and getting to work

With snow falling in many parts of the country, travel conditions may be difficult and Acas have issued a reminder about theiradvice on how employers and employees should consider the impact on the workplace. For employers the key points are: employees are not automatically entitled to pay if unable to get to work because of travel disruption; be flexible where possible about working hours and location, e.g. home working; use information technology, such as smartphones and laptops to enable the organisation to run effectively; deal with issues fairly within existing policies and procedures; and, plan ahead. Key points for employees are to think about how they plan to get into work and what arrangements they have in place if their children cannot get to school.


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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