In this round up, we consider some recent cases on religious discrimination, the calculation of pensions loss relating to a final salary pension scheme, the content of letters inviting an employee to a disciplinary hearing and report on progress on the UK's opt-out from the 48-hour week.
The EAT has held in Chondol v Liverpool City Council that dismissing an employee for inappropriately promoting his or her religious beliefs to clients is not the same as dismissal on the grounds of the employee's religion or belief and as such does not amount to religious discrimination.
However, it is not easy for employers to draw the line. Somerset NHS Trust recently came under fire for suspending an employee who offered to pray for a patient's recovery. The nurse has since been asked to return to work.
The increase in religious discrimination cases has prompted the Chartered Management Institute to issue guidelines advising companies that existing policies should be reviewed to ensure that they do not discriminate against staff on the grounds of religion.
Pensions and unfair dismissal
In Roberts v Aegon, the EAT has held that when calculating compensation for unfair dismissal, loss of earnings and pension loss can be approached differently. Here the employee was unfairly dismissed but immediately obtained new employment with a higher remuneration package. As such she was not entitled to an award for loss of earnings. However, the tribunal awarded compensation for her ongoing pension loss as she was no longer able to participate in a final salary pension scheme and was unlikely to be able to do so again in the future.
Statutory dismissal procedures
From 6 April, the statutory dismissal procedures will be abolished. However, they will continue to apply in certain circumstances during the transitional period. Where the statutory procedure applies, the EAT in Zimmer v Brezan has held that the step one letter issued must inform the employee that the employer is contemplating their dismissal (if this is the case).
Working time opt-out
The European Commission has rejected the European Parliament's proposal to discontinue the opt-out from the maximum average 48-hour week. If no agreement can be reached in the next few months, the European Parliament's proposed amendments to the Working Time Directive will not go through, the status quo will be maintained and the UK's opt-out preserved.