HR Newsletter – May
Jack Harrington

Welcome to our May newsletter!

Following the Queen’s Speech on 11 May, we would normally expect to report on a raft of proposed employment measures, however this year’s speech was notable for the absence of any such proposals.  In particular, there was no sign of the Employment Bill previously promised by the Government and expected to include measures to extend and protect worker’s rights, and create a Single Enforcement Body to tackle abuses in the labour market.

There have been however a number of pandemic related developments to report, including tweaks to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, an extension for remote right to work checks, a European case on the human rights implications of compulsory vaccination, and an ET decision about whether a dismissal resulting from a refusal to come into the workplace because of concerns about coronavirus could be automatically unfair on health and safety grounds.

We also cover two recent cases concerning the legal definition of disability, a decision on maternity discrimination, and guidance from the Court of Appeal on when it is appropriate for a tribunal to order re-engagement following a successful unfair dismissal claim.

We welcome your feedback and questions so please do get in touch.

COVID-19 update

Consultation on workplace social distancing measures, ACAS guidance on long COVID, right to work checks.

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Was COVID-19 a serious and imminent danger?

An employment tribunal has held that an employee did not reasonably believe COVID-19 to be a serious imminent danger in the workplace.  Therefore his dismissal was not automatically unfair when he was dismissed for refusing to attend work during the pandemic lockdown over concerns about infecting his vulnerable children.

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Furlough Scheme Update

As most employers will be aware by now, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (more commonly known as the furlough scheme) has been extended until September 2021.  a new Treasury Direction setting out the terms on which the scheme will operate from 1 May to 30 September 2021 was issued by HMRC on 15 April 2021, supplemented by updated guidance.

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Definition of Disability

Two recent decisions by the Court of Appeal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal have provided further guidance on the often complex and technical question of how to determine whether an individual is disabled for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010.

Vaccination and the Workplace

The issue of vaccination in the workplace remains a hot topic as lockdown restrictions ease.  We look at the human rights issues that may arise when vaccination is made compulsory.

When is re-instatement or re-engagement practicable?

In a recent case, the Court of Appeal considered when it might not be practicable for an employer to reinstate or re-engage an employee who has been unfairly dismissed.

Right to benefits during maternity leave

The Court of Appeal found that London Police did not directly discriminate against an officer on maternity leave when she was not paid a London allowance.
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