Updates to employment tribunal awards and case law updates

25th March 2024

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Employment tribunal awards

From 6 April 2024, The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2024 changes the limits on various tribunal awards. Some of the key changes are to the maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal which increases from £105,707 to £115,115, while the limit on weekly pay applied in a basic award for unfair dismissal or statutory redundancy pay increases from £643 to £700.

Case law updates

In Bathgate v Technip Singapore PTE Ltd, the Court of Session held that s147 of the Equality Act 2010, which allows employment discrimination claims to be compromised by way of a settlement agreement that ‘relates to the particular complaint’, permits the settlement of a future claim unknown to the employee at the time the agreement as long as the types of claim are clearly identified.

Employers should make sure that any settlement agreement is carefully drafted to provide maximum protection to them.

In Omooba v Michael Garrett Associates Ltd and another, the EAT dismissed an appeal against an employment tribunal’s decision that the claimant did not suffer direct religion or belief discrimination. The claimant was a Christian actor who was dismissed from a role playing a lesbian character in a theatre production of The Colour Purple due to publicly expressing her belief that homosexuality is a sin on social media in 2014 which caused an uproar when it was discovered by members of the public. The employment tribunal found that the reason for the dismissal was the adverse publicity and potential impact on the success of the production, rather than the claimant’s beliefs.

This case demonstrates that it is possible to draw a distinction between the fact that someone holds a particular belief and the way in which they manifest that belief and the impact of how others react to that belief.

In Humby v Barts Health NHS Trust, the EAT held that an employment tribunal erred in its decision that a band 6 NHS employee’s reassignment to a band 5 position did not breach an express term of his contract of employment. The employment tribunal had also erred in concluding that the employee’s offer to work more than his six weeks’ notice after he resigned amounted to affirmation of his contract meaning he could not claim he was constructively dismissed.

This case demonstrates that an employee who gives more notice than contractually required may be taken to have affirmed the contract, but not automatically so. However, this should be applied with discretion based on the facts of the case.

In Goldstein v Herve, the EAT upheld the an employment tribunal’s decision that the claimant’s claims of health and safety detriment and dismissal under the Employment Rights Act 1996 should succeed. The claims arose from the employee’s concerns about travelling to work and attending her workplace during the Covid-19 pandemic, along with her refusal to return to the workplace during the second national lockdown.

Following this case, employers should not just ignore the concerns of an employee as to whether there was a safe place of work or other health and safety issues. Employers should treat such matters as important, ensure a proper investigation is made into the concerns and seek to reassure the employee and take reasonable steps to address the issues.

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