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Top ten employment cases of 2018

Top ten employment cases of 2018

  • United Kingdom
  • Employment law - HR E-Brief


As the year draws to a close we highlight 10 of the most significant employment and equality law cases from 2018:

Gig economy and worker status

Pimlico Plumbers Ltd v Smith: The SC upheld an ET’s decision that a plumber was a ‘worker’ and, therefore, entitled to holiday pay and protection from discrimination from the company which engaged his services, notwithstanding that he was self-employed for tax purposes.

Arrow  Read our briefing: Supreme Court ruling on employment status

Addison Lee v Lange: In the latest ‘gig economy’ test case ruling, the EAT upheld an ET’s decision that private hire taxi drivers were ‘workers’, entitled to holiday pay and to be paid at least the national minimum wage while working.

Arrow  Read our briefing: Another employer challenge to worker status ruling rejected

Same-sex marriage, religion and belief discrimination and free speech

Lee v McArthur and Ashers Baking Co: In this high-profile case, the SC overturned a ruling from the Northern Ireland CA that a bakery unlawfully discriminated against a customer on grounds of sexual orientation and religious and political belief when it refused, on religious grounds, to fulfil an order for a cake bearing the slogan ‘Support Gay Marriage.’ Key to the decision was the fact that the business owners objection was to the message rather than the customer’s personal characteristics.

Arrow  Read our briefing: Supreme Court clarifies freedom of religious and political expression

Maternity pay v shared parental leave pay

Capita Customer Management Ltd v Ali: In a case now heading to the CA, the EAT concluded that an employer did not directly discriminate against male staff by paying them statutory pay during shared parental leave, whilst paying female staff at a higher, enhanced maternity pay rate for the first 14 weeks of maternity leave.
Arrow Read our briefing: Appeal tribunal rules on discrimination in pay for shared parental leave vs maternity leave

Non-disclosure clauses in settlement agreements

ABC v Telegraph Media Group Ltd: The CA granted a temporary injunction to restrain a newspaper from publishing allegations of discreditable conduct by a senior executive where it appeared one or more employees had passed information to the newspaper in breach of confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements that they had freely entered into. A full trial will now follow. This case reflects wider legal scrutiny of non-disclosure agreements and confidentiality clauses, their use and when breach may be justified.

Arrow  Read the judgment here 

Workplace surveillance

López Ribalda v Spain: In a controversial decision, the ECtHR ruled that secret monitoring of staff through covert video surveillance violated their human rights, even though the aim was to investigate workplace theft. It found that other, less intrusive options, were available to the employer. The decision is now being reviewed by the Court’s grand chamber. If upheld it will make justifying covert-surveillance at work extremely difficult.

Arrow  Read our briefing here

Holiday pay and voluntary overtime

Flowers v East of England Ambulance Trust: The EAT rejected a challenge to the principle that payments made for voluntary overtime that is regularly worked must be included when calculating holiday pay for the first four weeks of holiday. The case is now going to the CA so, although employers should budget for this approach, it would be premature to assume the law on holiday pay is finally settled.

Arrow  Read the case here

Compensatory rest breaks

Crawford v Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd: In this case under the Working Time Regulations 1998, the EAT ruled that where a worker is entitled to compensatory rest instead of a 20-minute rest break, then, so far as possible, they should be given an uninterrupted break of 20 minutes. Where that is possible, it is insufficient to allow the worker to take a number of shorter breaks even if, together, they amount to more than 20 minutes. A further appeal was heard by the CA last month and a decision is awaited.

Arrow  Read the case here 

Minimum wage and sleep-in shifts

Royal Mencap Society v Tomlinson-Blake: In a case of particular significance for the social care sector, the CA held that workers carrying out ‘sleep-in’ shifts are only entitled to the national minimum wage for time when they are awake and working, not when they are sleeping at the workplace. The workers are hoping to take their case to the SC.

Arrow  Read the case here

Agency workers

Kocur v Angard Staffing Solutions Ltd: The EAT held that there is a breach of the Agency Workers Regulations where there is a difference in entitlement to basic terms such as holiday and rest breaks, even if the disparity is compensated for by an enhanced hourly rate of pay. This need for a term by term comparison between employees and agency workers may not have been considered by many employers but could be significant in practice. The case is due to be considered by the CA in 2019 but employers should nonetheless assess any exposure to risk.

Arrow  Read the case here 


ET Employment Tribunal
EAT Employment Appeal Tribunal
CA Court of Appeal
SC Supreme Court
ECtHR European Court of Human Rights

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