Employment Updates - May 2013

May 2013

Employment Updates - May 2013

Whistleblowing and Vicarious Liability

Employers can be liable for the wrongdoing of their employees under the rule of “vicarious liability”.  Currently, however, it is not unlawful for employees to subject a colleague to detriment for making a protected disclosure and, therefore, an employer cannot be vicariously liable for this.  

The above is all set to change on 25 June 2013, when individual workers and agents will become personally liable where they subject a whistleblowing colleague to acts of detriment.  At this point, therefore, employers may be vicariously liable for such wrongdoing - unless they can show they have taken all reasonable steps to prevent such treatment.

Further amendments to the law on whistleblowing will also take place on 25 June 2013, including that disclosures will have to be in the ‘public interest’, but no longer have to be made in good faith (although if a disclosure is not made in good faith, any compensation awarded can be reduced by up to 25%). 

National Insurance Contributions Bill

A National Insurance Contributions Bill has been announced as part of the Government’s legislative programme for the new Parliamentary session.  This will create a new Employment Allowance so that, from April 2014, every business and charity will be eligible for a £2,000 allowance to reduce their bill for employer national insurance contributions.  The Bill will also, among other things, remove the presumption of self-employment for limited liability partnership members. 

The ACAS Code of Practice and SOSR Dismissals

A recent EAT case (Lund v St Edmunds School [2013] UKEAT/0514/12/KN) has confirmed that the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures may apply to dismissals for “some other substantial reason” (commonly referred to as ‘SOSR dismissals’), particularly where the dismissal, although not on the grounds of conduct, is in some way concerned with an employee’s conduct.  In this case, Mr Lund alienated his colleagues, affecting morale, and was dismissed when his employer lost confidence in him.  Although the dismissal was accepted to be for some other substantial reason, the EAT held that the ACAS Code of Practice applied and should have been followed because it was the employee’s conduct that led the employer to consider dismissing him. 

Methodist Minister not employed under a contract of employment

In the recent case of President of the Methodist Conference v Preston ([2013] UKSC 29) the Supreme Court has confirmed that there is no longer a presumption that there is no intention to create legal relations between a minister of religion and his or her church.  However, the majority of the Court then went on to determine, on the facts of this case, that there was no such intention and, therefore, the Claimant was not employed under a contract of employment.

For more information on any of these topics, please contact our Employment Law Department on 01296 318500.