£10  burning

Sometimes a case comes along that is interesting and timely. Such a case[1] recently came before the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT), which had to consider whether a dismissal of an employee was fair where he didn’t carry out any duties but was still entitled to be paid.

The interesting part is how someone gets paid for not carrying out duties? The background to the case was that Mr Anderson, an employee with Sefton MBC, had been deeply involved in city council politics in his hometown of Liverpool. He had been able to pursue these interests due to the statutory entitlement to take paid time off to carry out public duties. However, when he was appointed the  Leader of Liverpool City Council and later Mayor, his public service commitments left him no time for his employment duties. This didn’t prevent him from continuing the time off arrangements to receive the salary from Sefton to the extent that they were legally allowed to pay an employee for time off to carry out public services.

It was an arrangement that was described in the judgment as “a reverse form of zero hours contract”. The employee was guaranteed the pay but the employer was not entitled to any work.

The arrangement ended though when Mr Anderson’s contract of employment was TUPE transferred. The new employer‘s concerns led to him being quickly removed from payroll and Mr Anderson received his P45.

Mr Anderson brought a list of claims in the Employment Tribunal which included unfair dismissal. The employers were able to persuade the Tribunal that the “inequitable nature of the arrangement”, was a genuine and potentially fair ground to end his employment but the procedure had been “woefully deficient” meaning that technically the dismissal was unfair.

The finding did not lead to any big pay out though as it was clear that he would have been dismissed fairly if a fair procedure had been followed.

Timely? The main political parties have made a number of election promises including further rights to paid time off from work. Could they be open to abuse? Hopefully not but this case highlights the importance of ensuring that in the future these rights are treated as ancillary to the employee carrying out his employment role and not the other way round.

This post was edited by Helen Webster. For more information, email blogs@gateleyuk.com.

[1] Anderson v Chesterfield High School [2015]

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This blog is intended only as a synopsis of certain recent developments. If any matter referred to in this blog is sought to be relied upon, further advice should be obtained.