Employment Law Update 2019
19th March 2019
Welcome to our Employment Law Update which provides an update on the following areas:
- Liability for employee actions – vicarious liability
- Gig economy
- Age discrimination
Liability for employee actions
Bellman v Northampton Recruitment Limited
The Managing Director of a company physically attacked one of the employees in an unscheduled drinking session after the end of the Christmas party. The attack caused brain damage to the employee.
The issue to be determined by the court in this case, was whether the company was vicariously liable for the actions of the Managing Director. The court held that the company was not liable but the employee appealed.
The Court of Appeal allowed the employee’s appeal. It found that the Managing Director who owned the company was its most senior employee and directing mind and had full control over how he conducted his role. When he lectured staff at the drinks session at which the attack took place, he was still acting as Managing Director. Furthermore the drinks session was not a purely social event but followed on from the Christmas party organised by the employer.
WM Morrison Supermarkets Plc v Various Claimants
In this case, an employee of Morrisons, a senior IT internal auditor (Mr S) was asked to send data to Morrisons’ external auditors.
However, the employee shared employees’ personal data online and disseminated a copy of that data to three national newspapers as he had a grudge against Morrisons.
Employees of Morrisons sought to hold the company liable for his actions. The Court of Appeal agreed with the High Court that Morrisons was vicariously liable for the criminal activities of its former employee, Mr S. It held that his actions were within the field of activities assigned to him by Morrisons. Furthermore, Morrisons could be vicariously liable even where the intention of the employee committing the relevant act was to harm his employer.
There has now been a number of high profile cases in which the courts have held that “freelancers” are workers, including those relating to Uber, Pimlico Plumbers and Addison Lee.
Workers have certain rights which self-employed individuals do not benefit from. Whilst workers do not have all the rights of employees (who have the greatest rights), they do have some significant entitlements, such as the rights to the National Minimum Wage and to paid annual leave, amongst others. Employers should take advice when there is any doubt as to the status of such persons otherwise they may be faced with claims, possibly only at a later stage.
Age is one of nine features known as “protected characteristics” under the Equality Act 2010. Generally, a job applicant, an employee or worker is protected against discrimination because of age. This includes protection against unfair treatment due to age, because they are thought to be a particular age or because they associate with someone belonging to a particular age group.
Discrimination claims can be brought without any minimum length of employment (or indeed, any employment at all, in the case of a job applicant).
ACAS has recently published a guide on Age discrimination, as well as factsheets relating to age discrimination, setting out ten obligations for employers and top ten myths about age discrimination. Please click here to see the guide and factsheets.
From 6 April 2019, the legal right to a payslip will be extended to workers, not just employees.
Employers will also be required to include the total number of hours worked on payslips for employees and workers whose wages vary depending on how much time they have worked. The new right applies to payslips covering pay periods which begin on or after 6 April 2019.
From April 2019, there will be increases in the National Living Wage, National Minimum Wage, Statutory Sick Pay and payment for family friendly leave.
This Update is not intended to provide advice.