UK Employment Law Update - July 2014

17 July 2014

Ian Hunter, Warren Wayne, Elizabeth Lang, James Froud

As the summer heat approaches, we hope our useful tips arising from this month's interesting cases may save you from getting burnt.

Disability discrimination 

No failure to make adjustments 'by association'

In Hainsworth v Ministry of Defence, the Court of Appeal considered an employee who was not herself disabled, but who had a daughter with Down's syndrome. She requested a change of work location to enable her daughter to access specialist education and training facilities. Her request was refused. She claimed that this amounted to a breach of the statutory duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled persons, contained in s 20 Equality Act.
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Contract terms

Pay deduction for failure to work notice period was enforceable

In Yizhen Li v First Marine Solutions, the EAT considered whether a clause in an employment contract allowing the employer to deduct a month's salary for an employee's failure to work their notice period could be enforced. The fact that the clause was written into the contract was not enough. Any such deduction could only be allowed if it was a genuine pre-estimate of the expense that the employer would incur as a result (‘liquidated damages’). Otherwise it would be a ‘penalty’ clause, unenforceable in law.
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References

Balancing employer's duties with employee's rights

In AB v A Chief Constable, the High Court considered a case where, when giving a reference, the police force in question (‘the old employer’) had provided only a ‘standard’ reference, simply confirming the dates that the employee had worked for it; that it was not their policy to provide any further information and that the reference was given without liability.
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