Littler Global Guide - United Kingdom - Q1 2019

Browse through brief employment and labor law updates from around the globe. Contact a Littler attorney for more information or view our global locations.

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UK Court of Appeal Rules on Landmark Equal Pay Case

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

Author: Raoul Parekh, Partner – Littler United Kingdom

The UK Court of Appeal ruled on January 31, 2019, that shop floor staff working for national supermarket chain could compare their pay and terms to distribution center workers. Over 7,000 mostly female shop floor staff have brought equal pay claims based on the fact that they are paid less than the predominantly male distribution center workers. The company had resisted the claims partially on the basis that the workers were based at different sites. In a victory for the claimants, the Court of Appeal found that the comparison can be made. The employees must now bring evidence to demonstrate that their work is equivalent to that of their male comparators. An appeal by the company to the Supreme Court is also likely.

Compensatory Rest Breaks Need Not Be Single Continuous Period of Rest

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

Author: Mark Callaghan, Attorney at Law – Littler United Kingdom

On March 5, 2019, the UK Court of Appeal considered whether the entitlement to a compensatory rest break under Regulation 24 of the Working Time Directive (WTD) requires a continuous rest period of twenty minutes. Regulation 24 applies where employees are exempted, due to the nature of their work, from the generally applicable entitlement to a 20-minute break following six hours of continuous work. In this case, the claimant had been able to take frequent short periods of compensatory rest throughout his eight-hour shift but, due to the nature of his work, none of these rest periods reached 20 minutes. The Court of Appeal ruled that Regulation 24 required the compensatory rest be “equivalent” to the general right, not “identical,” and therefore noncontinuous periods of rest were permitted.

Supreme Court Finds Aspects of Criminal Record Disclosure Regime Incompatible with ECHR

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

Author: Lisa Rix, Attorney at Law – Littler United Kingdom

On January 30, 2019, the UK Supreme Court determined that the statutory schemes for the disclosure of criminal convictions and cautions to potential employers in England and Wales and Northern Ireland was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Specifically, there are two categories that are incompatible with ECHR: First, the multiple conviction rule, when a person with more than one conviction of whatever nature must disclose any conviction in a criminal record certificate, irrespective of the nature of the offences, their similarity, the number of occasions involved, or the intervals of time separating them. Second, the warnings and reprimands administered to young offenders, which are used as an alternative to prosecution to avoid any deleterious effect on the young offender's subsequent life, so disclosure to a potential employer are inconsistent with the ECHR. Parliament will most likely amend the schemes in the near future (although such amendments may be delayed in the midst of Brexit).

Court Restores Burden of Proof Status Quo in Discrimination Claims

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

Author: Dónall Breen, Attorney at Law – Littler United Kingdom

On January 23, 2019, the UK Court of Appeal held that claimants bear the initial burden of proof when bringing a claim for discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. The court overruled a lower court that had decided that it could draw inferences from the respondent’s failure to adduce evidence in order to find there was a prima facie case of discrimination. The Court of Appeal found that this approach was wrong and restored the orthodox position that the burden is on the claimant to prove a prima facie case of discrimination. In this case, the claimant had not provided the tribunal with sufficient evidence to discharge that burden.

Unfavorable Treatment Motivated by Alleged Discriminator’s Religion is Not Direct Discrimination

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

Author: Ben Smith, Trainee Solicitor – Littler United Kingdom

On February 12, 2019, the UK’s Employment Appeal Tribunal examined the case of a teacher at an orthodox Jewish school who was dismissed following the discovery that she co-habited with her partner despite not being married (which was contrary to the school’s religious ethos). A lower tribunal had found that this amounted to discrimination based on religion, as the school’s religious belief was the motivation for the unfavorable treatment. The Employment Appeal Tribunal disagreed, concluding that there can be no discrimination where the reason for the treatment is the alleged discriminator’s religion or belief. This case confirms the position of the Supreme Court in Lee v. Ashers Baking Co. Ltd. in 2018.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.