Employment

Ashfords' Employment and Human Resources Team is known for providing pragmatic, rigorous and commercial advice in both the private and public sectors, to employers and some senior employees/executives in a range of litigious and non-contentious matters.

Our solicitors have considerable experience of supporting clients and advising them on all issues that can arise from beginning to end of the employment relationship, including HR advice, the preparation of employment contracts, service agreements and handbooks, restructures and redundancy, the TUPE implications on the sale or purchase of businesses and the successful management of all litigation matters in Courts and Employment Tribunals.

The size and resource of our team means that we can support clients' HR needs wherever and whenever assistance is needed. Clients tell us that they value our approachability and willingness, our ability to understand their businesses and objectives.  We offer competitive rates, flexible arrangements and value-added extras.

However, we are particularly well known for our work with:

  • Public sector and local authority clients, in particular London Borough Councils, and advising on redundancy situations and defending Employment Tribunal claims for discrimination and unfair dismissal.
  • Clients in the private healthcare and retail sectors, including extensive recent experience in handling whistleblowing and constructive unfair dismissal claims.
  • Clients involved PFI transactions handled by the firm's reputable Projects team. We are known for our strength in this area, which particularly involves advising on TUPE and pensions aspects of large-scale transfers of employees.
  • Representing respondents in Employment Tribunal and County Court claims.

We are running a series of roundtable discussions addressing issues affecting in-house legal teams. Click here to findout more.

Specialisms

  • Immigration
  • Handbooks, policies and procedures
  • Maternity issues and "family friendly" policies
  • Advice and HR support
  • Litigation and trial advocacy, including unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal and breach of contract, discrimination issues of all types, including harassment and bullying, equal pay, whistle-blowing, and pursuing and defending injunctive proceedings
  • Contracts, terms and conditions of employment & Service Agreements
  • Working time
  • Restructures and redundancy
  • Trade union recognition and industrial disputes
  • Grievance, disciplinary, capability and dismissal procedures
  • Termination packages
  • Employment Covenants, post-termination restrictions, confidential information and High Court representation
  • All employment aspects of business and company sales and purchases, and public sector outsourcing projects, including TUPE and the negations of warranties and indemnities
  • Employing foreign workers and business immigration
  • Intellectual property
  • Data protection
  • Internal training

Relevant work

  • Successful defence of for a large employer against a claim of automatic unfair dismissal by an ex-employee in relation to whistleblowing. Work included advising and preparing pleadings and witness statements. The claim was successfully defended, and a full costs award made in favour of Respondent on application (Partner Stephen Moore & Solicitor Emily Felton). Representation of the Respondent in relation to the enforcement of the costs award and an application for review of the costs award by the Claimant (decision upheld). Also advising the Respondent on proceedings brought by Claimant in the Employment Appeal Tribunal
  • Acted for multinational pharmaceutical company on TUPE issues arising out of the re-letting of a contract operated by a company in the UK to a company in another jurisdiction. Work included advising the internal legal and management team on the possible application of TUPE, the identification of potentially affected employees and achieving a commercial solution to ensure that there was not a break in supply. Advised on all legal, commercial and tactical issues arising in the absence of clear TUPE exit provisions in the outgoing contract and how best to achieve a cost-effective solution whilst maintaining good relationships with the outgoing and new contractors
  • Bringing a claim under Article 6 claim in the European Court of Human Rights.The value of the Claim is in excess of £1m
  • Provided HR and employment law support on  cross-border corporate acquisition including:  due diligence,  employment issues in the Sale and Purchase Agreement, a Settlement Agreement for a departing Director and a new Contract for the remaining Director, and securing a new Sponsor Licence under Tier 2 of the points-based system for the UK company
  • Representing a local authority  in the complex defence of an unfair dismissal and race and disability discrimination claim brought by a litigant in person (whose Witness Statement ran to 125 pages), with allegations going back nearly 10 years

News

Right to Privacy not engaged by an employer investigating emails?

Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights ("ECHR") provides that everyone has the right to respect for their private and family life, home and correspondence and that there shall be no interference with this right by a public authority except as provided by law and is necessary in the interests of national security, public safety, crime prevention and the protection of rights and freedoms of others.

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Ashfords LLP Appoints Employment Partner in London Office

Ashfords LLP Appoints Employment Partner in London Office Nationally recognised law firm Ashfords LLP has appointed a new Partner to join their expanding London office. Vanessa James, a solicitor who has over 15 years' experience, joins the firms partnership increasing their expert Employment and HR offering.

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Holiday Pay: Decision from EAT on Commission

This week, the Employment Appeal Tribunal ("EAT") have confirmed that, when calculating holiday pay, employers must include commission.

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Employers are entitled to read employees' private messages at work

A firm that read its employee's personal Yahoo Messenger chats was within its rights to do so, according to the Judges of the European Court of Human Rights ("ECHR").

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HR Professionals - beware the risks of overstepping the line in disciplinary proceedings

The recent case of Ramphal v Department for Transport offers valuable advice for investigating officers and HR professionals on their respective roles in disciplinary proceedings.

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Holiday Pay: What are Employees Entitled to Receive?

The calculation of holiday pay is an area of employment law that has recently undergone significant changes, and further modifications are anticipated as this matter continues to be considered by the Employment Tribunal.

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Court of Appeal rules in favour of employer on remoteness of depression arising from disciplinary process (Yapp v Foreign and Commonwealth Office [2014])

Nowadays, employers have a range of duties and obligations when ensuring the health and safety of their employees, with common law duties to take reasonable care for the health and safety of employees and implied terms in all contracts of employment that employers must not, without reasonable and proper cause, conduct themself in a manner calculated or likely to destroy or seriously damage the relationship of trust and confidence.

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Appeals against dismissals

In a recent case decided by the EAT, it was held that where an employee successfully appeals against dismissal under an appeal procedure, the contract of employment is revived automatically, without need for the employer to make a specific decision that the employee should be reinstated. The EAT also decided that despite the employment failing to communicate the decision to the employee, the revival still took place.

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EAT rules that caste is capable of falling within the concept of "ethnic origins" under the Equality Act 2010

The EqA 2010 section 9(5) provides that a Minister of the Crown must by Order amend section 9 (definition of race) to provide for "caste" to be an aspect of "race", but this to date has not been done. The Chandhoks therefore argued further that, as the EqA 2010 currently stood, there was a deliberate omission of caste discrimination, and it was not for Ms Tirkey to speculate what wording or effect any future Order may have by bringing a caste discrimination claim.

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New Fit for Work service to be fully implemented by May 2015

The new Fit for Work service is aimed at complimenting existing occupational health services provided by employers and to fill the gap in support that currently exists.

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Consideration must be paid to be able to enforce restrictive covenants inserted as part of a contract variation

In the recent case of Re-use Collections Limited v Sendall & May Glass Recycling Limited the claimant sought to enforce a number of restrictions, including a 6 month non-solicitation and non-dealing clause and a 12 month non-competition clause against their former employee, Mr Sendall who left Re-use Collections Limited ("Reuse") to work for a competing business owned and operated by his children.

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Trade Union activities is not working time

There have been a string of cases over recent months defining what situations will be classed as "working time", with sleep-over care workers (Whittlestone v BJP Home Support Limited 2014) and on-call paramedics (Truslove and another v Scottish Ambulance Service 2014) held to be on working time despite only being at the disposal of their employer and not actually carrying out any work.

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Employment Appeal Tribunal decision confirms set off defence for the first time

The EAT has held that an employer could set off its liability to a claimant for loss of pension rights against a counterclaim for overpaid wages. This is the first reported case to confirm that the set-off defence of this type is available in Tribunal claims - Ridge v HM Land Registry.

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Limits on Public Sector Employee Exit Payments and new Claw-Back rules

In response to a number of recent high-profile cases, the Government is planning to crack down on what it believes to be excessive termination payments made to senior public section employees, particularly when such employees return to employment within the public sector shortly after their termination.

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Redundancies in Insolvent Businesses: A Warning for Employers

When a company is facing financial difficulties, the Directors of that company should be aware to the procedures that must be followed in relation to redundancies in order to avoid prosecution.

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More guidance on overtime and holiday pay…

There has been further Court guidance about the extent to which employers need to include overtime in holiday pay calculations.

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HR influence in disciplinary investigations could result in unfair dismissal

It is recognised that HR departments are routinely involved in disciplinary investigations. However, the recent case of Ramphal v Department for Transport has emphasised the importance of HR's advisory and impartial role in such situations. It is essential for businesses and their HR Departments to be aware of the scope of HR involvement in such situations.

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The daily commute is ruled to be 'working time' for mobile employees

The Court of Justice of the European Union ("CJEU") has ruled that, for employees with no fixed or habitual place of work, time spent travelling between their home and their first and last locations of work is to be regarded as 'working time' for the purposes of the Working Time Directive.

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Sunday Trading - consultation on devolving Sunday trading rules

The current Sunday trading rules were established 21 years ago in the Sunday Trading Act 1994. These were designed to limit the opening hours of large stores (those with a relevant floor area over 280 square metres/ 3,000 square feet) to 6 hours on a Sunday. Smaller stores are entitled to open all day. However, with a move towards a more secular society over this period and the changes brought about by internet shopping, is there a need for change?

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Termination Payments: A Taxing Issue

Calculating the tax due on payments arising from the termination of an individual's employment can be difficult, and often causes additional complication and concern at an already challenging time for both employer and employee.

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UK Court Hears First Case on Points-Based Immigration System

Despite a boom in business immigration in recent years, the court has only recently heard the first case concerning 'Tier-2' of the UK's points-based immigration system in R (on the application of Raj & Knoll Ltd) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (2015).

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Changes to Local Authority Dismissal Procedures

The Local Authority (Standing Orders) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 are due to come into force on 11 May 2015, and introduce significant changes regarding the dismissal of the statutory officers of local authorities.

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Whistleblowing update: What exactly is 'in the public interest'?

Under current legislation, a worker must have made a 'qualifying disclosure' to benefit from whistleblowing protection. A qualifying disclosure is any disclosure of information which, in the reasonable belief of the worker making it, is made in the public interest and shows that a specified type of wrongdoing has taken place, is taking place or is likely to take place.

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Handbooks

In a recent case looking at staff handbooks, the High Court held that the Department for Transport ("DfT") was not entitled to unilaterally change the terms of its staff handbook, which the High Court found had been incorporated in part into its employees contracts of employment.

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Do you have employees that work remotely from abroad?

A recent case decided by the Employment Appeal Tribunal ("EAT") has added a new twist to the territorial scope of UK employment law, and your employees may now be within the scope to bring claims under UK employment law.

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Clarification of the law relating to holiday pay

In a decision published today, the Employment Appeal Tribunal has clarified various aspects of ongoing disputes of how to calculate holiday pay.

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Ashfords Stephen Moore

 
Partner and Head of Employment
Employment
+44 (0)117 3218065

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