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Reading Employment Tribunal Map

Recently, a few of our clients have had difficulty finding Reading Employment Tribunal as it tucked behind Nando’s on Friar Street – therefore concealing the entrance.

For ease of reference, please click on the below link for a map and directions to Reading Employment Tribunal.

Reading Employment Tribunal Map.pdf

September 2011

Dion McCarthy, Paralegal


Independent Legal Advice on Compromise Agreements

A fundamental requirement for a valid compromise agreement is that the employee must receive independent legal advice from an employment solicitor.

Pursuant to Section 203 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, the compromise agreement must identify the independent legal adviser. The employee must have received legal advice from a relevant independent legal adviser as to the effect of the compromise agreement and the employment solicitor must have appropriate  professional indemnity insurance. The employment solicitor must confirm that his or her law firm is not acting for the employer.

The employer should exercise caution when recommending to an employee, a firm of solicitors that they should use to review a compromise agreement. If an employer is making a recommendation, it is prudent for the employer to provide the employee with a list of law firms that can advise on compromise agreements and it is advisable that the list be as long as possible. It is also advisable that the employee is informed that they are free to take legal advice from any employment solicitor of their choosing. After all, if a law firm is regularly recommended by the employer and therefore becomes dependent on the employer for income generated by referred compromise agreements, the employment solicitor may become reluctant to “rock the boat” by recommending further negotiations against the employer and/or to bring a claim at Employment Tribunal.

If it is deemed that the employee did not receive independent legal advice, the compromise agreements may become unenforceable and as result the employee will be free to bring a claim at an Employment Tribunal.

For further information on compromise agreements, see our specialist blog site: www.compromise-agreement-solicitors.co.uk.

August 2011

 Dion McCarthy, Paralegal


Whistleblowing

The Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) 1998 (also known as the whistleblowing legislation) introduced special rights and protections for workers who disclose wrongdoing by their employers to a third party in specific circumstances. It was introduced after a series of disasters (such as the Zeebrugge ferry, Piper Alpha and the Clapham rail crash) which highlighted the need for a law to protect workers who ‘whistleblew’ in the public interest.

The provisions of the PIDA 1998 apply not just to employees and workers but also to third party contractors whose work is controlled by an employer. The Act does not create a general right for all whistleblowing. Only certain categories of information will be protected in certain situations. 

There is no financial cap on compensation in whistleblowing claims, and no requirement for a minimum period of service.

Whether a whistleblower qualifies for protection depends on satisfying the following tests:

HAVE THEY MADE A QUALIFYING DISCLOSURE?

A disclosure is more than merely a communication, and information must be more than merely an allegation or a statement of position. The worker must actually convey facts – even if those facts are already known to the recipient.

The individual making the disclosure must reasonably believe that the disclosure tends to show that one or more of the following has, or is likely to happen:

  • A criminal offence
  • Breach of legal obligation
  • Miscarriage of justice
  • Health and safety or any individual endangered
  • Environment endangered

The worker must have a reasonable belief that the information tends to show one of the relevant failures.

IS IT ALSO A PROTECTED DISCLOSURE?

In order to qualify for protection, there is a tiered disclosure regime:

(a) a disclosure in good faith to an employer

(b) a disclosure to a legal adviser in the course of obtaining legal advice;

(c) where the employer is appointed under any statute by a Minister of the Crown, a

disclosure in good faith to a Minister of the Crown;

(d) a disclosure in good faith to a prescribed person under s 43F. (Details of prescribed

bodies and the matters in respect of which they are prescribed are set out in the Public

Interest Disclosure (Prescribed Persons) Order 1999 (SI 1999/1549). The list includes

bodies such as the Inland Revenue, and the HSE.)

Disclosure to the employer is protected provided it is made in good faith. Further conditions for disclosure to third parties depend on the identity of the third party. Disclosures to a “responsible” third party, or a “prescribed person” is likely to gain protection relatively easily. However, wider disclosures, such as to the police or to the media, will only qualify in very limited cases.

August 2011

Dion McCarthy, Paralegal


Written statement of terms

By s 1 of the ERA 1996 (as amended by the EA 2002), the employer must, within two months of employment commencing, give the employee a written statement of terms and conditions relating to the following particulars:

  • identity of the parties;
  • date employment began;
  • date continuous employment began (taking into account any relevant employment with a previous employer);
  • scale or rate of remuneration and intervals of pay;
  • hours of work;
  • any terms relating to:
  • holidays and holiday pay;
  • sickness and sick pay;
  • pensions and pension schemes;
  • length of notice required to determine the contract;
  • in the case of non-permanent employment, the period for which it is expected to continue or, if it is for a fixed term, the date it is to end;
  • job title or a brief description of work;
  • place or places of work;
  • particulars of any collective agreements which directly affect the terms and conditions of employment;
  • where employees are required to work outside the UK for a period of more than one month, the period of such work, currency in which payment is made, benefits provided and terms relating to the return to the UK;
  • details of the disciplinary and dismissal rules and grievance procedures (to avoid the procedures becoming contractual in nature, the s 1 statement should make it clear they are not); these can be set out in the body of the particulars, or reference may be made to another reasonably accessible document;
  • whether a contracting out certificate is in force.

If there are no particulars to be entered under any of the heads above, that fact must be stated.

Although the statement must be given to the employee, it may refer him to a document that is reasonably accessible and which contains full details of the terms relating to pension schemes and dismissal and disciplinary procedures and grievance procedures.

Any changes in the terms of employment must be notified by the employer in writing within one month of the change.

No written statement needs to be given to any employee if his employment continues for less than one month.

If the contract of employment is in writing and contains all the particulars that need to be referred to under s 1 of the ERA 1996, no separate written statement of terms need be given to the employee. Employers may decide not to set out the disciplinary and dismissal rules and grievance procedures in the contract to avoid giving the procedures contractual status.

The written statement of terms given by the employer under s 1 of the ERA 1996 merely states what the contract terms are, it is not the contract itself. The employee may dispute the accuracy of the statement, or, alternatively, the employer may fail to give the employee a written statement.

The EA 2002 states that the tribunals must award compensation of two to four (gross) weeks’

pay to the employee, where the absence of particulars becomes evident upon a successful tribunal claim being brought under any of the tribunal jurisdictions listed in Sch 5 to EA 2002 (which covers most common tribunal complaints). There is no free-standing right to claim compensation. The tribunal must award the minimum of two weeks’ pay and may, if it considers it just and equitable, in the circumstances, award four weeks’ pay in respect of the failure. The tribunal does not have to make an award if there are exceptional circumstances that make it unjust to make an award.

August 2011

Dion McCarthy, Paralegal