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Latest Brief - Week Ending 16 September 2016   

Illegal Workers fines? That will do nicely, sir!

A quarterly report published by UK Visas and Immigration identifies that 1,195 illegal workers were found working throughout the UK between 1st January and 31st March 2016; an increase of 26% compared with the same quarter last year. Over £12 million in fines were issued to employers for employing illegal workers across the UK, an increase of over £3 million from the same period last year.

Caste discrimination consultation

The Government has recently announced that it will carry out a full consultation on caste discrimination. The consultation's aim is to consider whether victims of caste discrimination require additional protection to that provided by the Equality Act 2010 for race discrimination.  Caste is not a separate protected characteristic under the Equality Act but has been held to be included within "ethnic origin" when considering "race" discrimination by the Employment Appeal Tribunal.  However, the consultation will consider whether further protection is required.

Latest Brief - Week Ending 2 September 2016

Is protecting a disabled employee’s pay a reasonable adjustment?

The EAT has held that there is no reason in principle why pay protection could not be a reasonable adjustment as part of a package of measures to get an employee back to work.  In this particular case, the EAT held that the Tribunal was entitled to find that an employer was required, as a reasonable adjustment, to continue employing a disabled employee in a more junior role, preserving his existing rate of pay on an indefinite basis. 

This is a controversial decision, but it is important to clarify that the EAT is not saying that it will always be necessary to protect pay as a reasonable adjustment – merely that it can be a reasonable adjustment.  Whether it is reasonable for an employer to take that particular step will be a separate question, to be determined on the basis of the particular facts and circumstances.  

Nursing home fined for breach of the Data Protection Act

The Information Commissioner has fined a nursing home in Northern Ireland £15,000 for failing to keep personal information secure.  

A member of staff took a work laptop home, and this was then stolen during a burglary overnight.  The laptop contained sensitive personal details relating to around 70 staff and residents.  The nursing home was criticised for failing to implement any policies relating to the use of encryption, homeworking, and storage of mobile devices, and failing to provide enough data security training.

The nursing home was only a small business, and it was clear that the Information Commissioner would have given a much larger fine to a bigger organisation experiencing a similarly serious breach.  This decision demonstrates the importance to all businesses, large and small, of having stringent measures in place in relation to data protection, and in particular, the additional measures that need to be put in place where employees take work home.  

Vexatious job applicants

The Court of Justice of the European Union has held that where an individual applies for a job solely in order to seek compensation for discrimination in circumstances where the applicant has no interest in obtaining employment, any such claim would be outside the scope of the relevant discrimination legislation.  This case involved an individual whose application was rejected during an automated sifting process.  When he complained of discrimination and wrote to the company seeking a pay out, the company offered him an interview, which he declined, suggesting that he would discuss his potential employment with the company after his compensation claim had been satisfied.  

The purpose of the discrimination legislation is to protect those in employment or seeking employment, and in these circumstances the applicant was not truly seeking employment.  Neither was he a victim of discrimination, and he had not suffered loss or damage. Therefore, the court found that he was not entitled to compensation.