Friday, 29 September 2000

Minimum Wage


1. TIGER - the minimum wage website
2. Recent EAT Decisions


1. TIGER - the Minimum Wage website

The DTI has today (Friday) launched 'TIGER' (Tailored Interactive Guidance on Employment Rights) at

The site contains interactive and easy to use information on the national minimum wage, including a detailed yet accessible analysis of people to whom the minimum wage applies, and a 'ready-reckoner' for calculating whether employees are receiving the minimum wage.

The site asks users to state whether they are employers or employees, and guides them down a series of easily understood questions to the information they seek.

It is anticipated that the website will be expanded over time to deal with all aspects of employment rights.


2. New EAT Decisions

Moores v Bude-Stratton Town Council [Lindsay P., 27th March 2000]
A town councillor was extremely rude to a council employee, entitling him to resign and claim constructive dismissal. The issue was whether the Council was vicariously liable for the repudiatory conduct of the individual councillor. The employment tribunal, and the minority member of the EAT, held that councillors were not analagous to employees and a Council was not analagous to an employer - hence no vicarious liability and the claim must fail. The majority of the EAT (including Lindsay P.) held that vicarious liability existed, that the repudiatory conduct of a single counciller was capable of breaching trust and confidence, and the employee was entitled to terminate his contract of employment with the Council.

Martyres v Connex South-East [HHJ Wilson, 24th May 2000]
A single employee did not consent to a change to electronic payment of wages, which his trade union had accepted by conduct. He brought a claim for unlawful deduction from wages. The EAT held (unsurprisingly!) that there had been no deduction, since electronic payment is a proper substitute for putting money in a pay packet. More importantly, the EAT stated that where a collective agreement exists, an individual employee abdicates his right to object and loses any veto he may have to changes in his terms of employment if there were no such collective agreement.

Tuesday, 19 September 2000

No further employment legislation

The government appears to have confirmed that no further employment legislation is planned during this parliament. I reproduce the press release (issued because of the fuel crisis) below:

Press release - 19/9/00
Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Stephen Byers today said
that no further changes are planned to employment law, following the
recent fuel protests.

After the first meeting of the Fuel Taskforce Mr Byers said:

"Contrary to speculation we are not considering changes to the
employment rights and responsibilities of employees in the oil
sector. We have said on a number of occasions that the Employment
Relations Act is the final piece of significant employment
legislation for this Parliament - that remains the position."


Wednesday, 13 September 2000

New statutory instruments


1. New statutory instruments
2. ET decision in Virdi v Metropolitan Police


1. New Statutory Instruments

Three new statutory instruments published today, none of which are likely to make anyone faint with excitement! They are...

• The Employment Code of Practice (Industrial Action Ballots and Notice to Employers) Order 2000 (SI 2000/2241) - brings the revised Code of Practice on Industrial Action Ballots and Notice to Employers into force on 18th September 2000

• The Employment Relations Act 1999 (Commencement No. 7 and Transitional Provisions) Order 2000 (SI 2000/2242) - brings into force the right to be accompanied at disciplinary and grievance proceedings on 4th September. Yet another statutory instrument published after it comes into force! An important transitional provision - it does not apply if the worker is invited or required to attend a hearing before 4th September.

• The Employment Code of Practice (Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures) Order 2000 (SI 2000/2247) - brings into force the new ACAS Code on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures (also being published a week late!)

Copies of all three statutory instruments are attached (reproduced with permission of Her Majesty's Stationery Office).


2. Employment Tribunal Decision in Verdi v Metropolitan Police

Susan Belgrave of Coram Chambers (Counsel for Mr Verdi) has sent me the transcript of the above case, which achieved some notoriety recently in the press.

In a nutshell, Mr Verdi was an Asian police officer. He, along with a white female officer, was suspected of sending racist hate mail to other officers. However, whilst she was interviewed three times without being arrested, Mr Verdi was not interviewed until after his arrest. Moreover, his house was searched for 8 hours using the POLSA team (the police search squad, usually used for anti-terrorist searches), and the police deliberately disclosed Mr Verdi's ethnicity in an attempt to redress an impression of inter-racial hostitlity within the force.

After an 18 day hearing, the employment tribunal found (by way of inference) that the different treatment of Mr Verdi was on grounds of his race.

If anyone would like a copy of the transcipt (warning - 41 pages!), please contact Susan Belgrave on .

Friday, 8 September 2000

Annual Survey of Discrimination Awards

The Equal Opportunities Review has this morning published its annual survey of discrimination awards. The full text of the press release appears below.

[Text of press release follows]


Compensation awarded by employment tribunals to victims of race discrimination increased by two-thirds (65%) in 1999, according to the annual survey of compensation awards published in Equal Opportunities Review*. The average award for sex discrimination was also up – by 5%. However, the average award for disability discrimination fell by 13%.

The overall compensation employers were ordered to pay out by employment tribunals in 1999 to victims of unlawful discrimination increased by almost a third (30%). In total, tribunals awarded £2.55 million to victims of disability, race and sex discrimination in over 300 cases. Add in interest and the total awarded by tribunals was £2.68 million.

The average compensation award for victims of race discrimination was £9,948, slightly less than the average award of £9,981 in disability cases. Victims of sex discrimination were awarded significantly less on average – £7,208. So, for every £1 awarded in compensation for sex discrimination, around £1.38 was awarded for disability or race discrimination.

Awards for injury to feelings were highest in cases of race discrimination (£5,297) – 40% more than the average in sex discrimination cases (£3,787) and 46% more than in cases of disability discrimination (£3,635).

The Equal Opportunities Review survey – which provides the most comprehensive and up-to-date picture available of compensation trends – covered awards made by employment tribunals in Britain between 1 January 1999 and 31 December 1999. Tribunals awarded compensation in 313 discrimination cases – 201 cases of sex discrimination; 71 of race discrimination; 36 of disability discrimination; four cases of race and sex discrimination combined; and one of disability and sex discrimination combined.

The survey’s other key findings, by jurisdiction, include:

Sex discrimination cases

• Compensation awards ranged from £100 to £182,247.
• Nearly a fifth of compensation awards were for £10,000 or more.
• Awards for injury to feelings, which accounted for 52% of the total compensation awarded in sex cases, ranged from £500 to a record £37,500.
• Injury to feelings awards were highest in cases of sexual harassment, averaging £6,776, compared with an average of £2,538 in cases of dismissal.

Race discrimination cases

• Compensation awards ranged from £665 to a record £130,736.
• Over a quarter of compensation awards were for £10,000 or more.
• Awards for injury to feelings, which accounted for 53% of the total compensation awarded in race cases, ranged from £500 to £30,000.

Disability discrimination cases

• Compensation awards ranged from £500 to £77,696.
• Over a quarter of compensation awards were for £10,000 or more.
• Awards for injury to feelings, which accounted for just over a third of the total compensation awarded in disability cases, ranged from £200 to £15,000 – a record high†.

"Compensation awards ‘99 " – Equal Opportunities Review No. 93, September/October 2000. Available on annual subscription (£215) from Industrial Relations Services, 18-20 Highbury Place, London N5 1QP (020 7354 5858).

This figure was exceeded at the beginning of 2000, when an employment tribunal made an award of £25,000.

Thursday, 7 September 2000

Government reviews on balancing home and work


1. Department for Education and Employment - Creating a Work-Life Balance
2. Department of Trade and Industry - Support for Working Parents
3. Recent EAT Decisions
4. Advertisement - Employment vacancy at Liberty


1. DfEE - Creating a Worklife Balance

The Minister for Employment and Equal Opportunities, Margaret Hodge, announced new guidance this morning to help employers improve the working lives of all their staff.

The DfEE also published the results of a survey amongst 7,500 employees. The key statistics are:

• 19% of employees with no caring responsibilities would like to work part-time - the same number as those with caring responsibilities
• 12% would like the option of a job-share (19% for those with caring responsibilities)
• 34% would like flexitime (37% for those with caring responsibilities), whereas only 24% of all employees currently work flexitime
• only 6% of all employees currently work a compressed hours week (fitting a full-time job into, say, 4 days not 5), but 33% would like to do so.
The new Guide offers advice to employers on how to set up policies and working practices which enable their employees to achieve a better work-life balance. The booklet, 'Creating a Work-Life Balance - a good practice guide for employers' is available from the DfEE on 0845 6022260, ref: WLBGPGE1


2. DTI - Debate on Support for Working Mothers

In a seemingly unrelated development (no cross-referencing appears in the press releases), the DTI has launched a debate about how working parents can be given more choices in balancing their responsibilities at home and work.

A discussion paper - 'Work and Parents: competitiveness and choice' was published today. Details can be found at . It is anticipated that a formal consultation paper will be issued later this year.


3. New EAT Decisions

Facey v Midas Retail Security [Lindsay P., 18th August 2000]

This case deals with the scenario where a litigant accuses a tribunal of bias. Mr Facey, who brought a race discrimination claim, engaged a representative who held no UK legal qualifications. At the beginning of the hearing, the representative alleged bias against the tribunal, invited the tribunal to discharge itself, and then both he and Mr Facey refused to participate further in the proceedings. Mr Facey subsequently appealed the (inevitable) dismissal of his claim and costs order.

Detailed notes of the hearing were provided by each of the two Respondents' Counsel, the chairman, both lay members and one solicitor. The Applicant's representative asked the EAT to order the chair and members to be cross-examined on their evidence. The issue was the competency and compellability of tribunal members to give evidence before the EAT.

Following a lengthy review of the authorities, the EAT held the following steps should be taken when allegations of bias are made against the members of a tribunal:

(i) The steps outlined in the EAT practice direction para. 9(3) should be taken, and unsworn comments may then be taken from the chair and, if necessary, lay members

(ii) the EAT may require sworn witness statements from persons other than members of the tribunal

(iii) the EAT may invite but not require the chair or members of the tribunal to provide sworn, written evidence in chief as to primary fact

(iv) in a suitable case it will be possible, after such an invitation, for adverse inferences to be drawn from a member's failure without good reason to provide sworn, written evidence in chief as to primary fact

(v) if, notwithstanding the material already collected, the EAT thinks that cross-examination would materially assist it, it may require the attendance for oral cross-examination of deponents not including the chairman or other members of the tribunal

(vi) the EAT is not to hear a member's cross-examination, even where the member has agreed to attend

(vii) the EAT is not to require the attendance of a member for cross-examination, nor to require disclosure of documents from him/her

(viii) the EAT is not to draw adverse inference from a member's failure to attend for cross-examination.


4 Advertisement - Employment Vacancy

Protecting Civil Liberties
Promoting Human Rights

Locum Legal Officer

Liberty wishes to recruit a Locum Legal Officer to start in late October for a period of 3 to 6 months.

The post holder will be responsible for undertaking test cases on Human Rights and Civil Liberties issues, both in domestic and European Court of Human Rights jurisdictions. Experience of taking such cases is necessary. The post is suitable for a barrister or solicitor.

The post is full time but applicants who can only work part time may be considered. Secondments will be considered.

Salary £22,600-£25,000.

Please apply in writing with c.v. to arrive on or by Friday 22nd September to:

James Welch
Legal Director
21 Tabard Street
London SE1 4LA

Monday, 4 September 2000

Reminder - new right to be accompanied commences today

A quick reminder: the new right to be accompanied in disciplinary and grievance procedures comes into force today.

Also coming into force today is the revised ACAS Code on disciplinary and grievance procedures in the workforce. For a copy, go to (you need Adobe Acrobat to read it).