Employment Updates - February 2013

February 2013

Employment Updates - February 2012

Termination of Employment by Payment in Lieu of Notice (PILON)

Some contracts of employment specify that an employer can terminate employment upon paying a sum of money instead of allowing the employee to work their notice period.  This is known as a payment in lieu of notice clause, or ‘PILON’ clause.  Whilst having a PILON clause in your contracts of employment means that you can terminate your employees’ employment without giving notice and making the payment in lieu instead, a recent case has confirmed that it is not enough simply to make the payment; you must also notify the employee that you are terminating their employment and making a payment in lieu (Société Générale v Geys [2012] UKSC 63).  It should also be noted that any such payment, made pursuant to a PILON clause, will be subject to the usual deductions for tax and national insurance.  

Political Belief Discrimination

Towards the end of last year the European Court of Human Rights decided, in the case of Redfearn v United Kingdom ECtHR 6.11.12 (47335/06), that the UK does not provide adequate protection from dismissal on the grounds of political party membership.  This case concerned a bus driver who was summarily dismissed after he was elected as a Councillor for the BNP who did not have enough continuous service to bring a claim of ordinary unfair dismissal.

As a result of the above case, the Government has recently proposed an amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, currently making its way through Parliament, to disapply the usual qualifying period for unfair dismissal if the reason or principal reason for the dismissal is, or relates to, the employee’s political opinions or affiliation.

Equality & Human Rights Commission Guidance

In light of the recent case of Eweida and ors v United Kingdom ECtHR, 15.1.13 (48420/10), which concerned religious rights in the workplace, the Equality & Human Rights Commission has published new guidance, which can be found here.

Right to Request Flexible Working

The Government’s Children and Families Bill includes a provision amending the Employment Rights Act 1996 to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees, not just those who are parents or carers.  Once in force, employers will be under a duty to deal with any applications to work flexibly in a reasonable manner and notify the employee of its decision within three months of the application, unless the parties agree a longer period.