Last night, I watched the middle half of The Dark Knight Rises (the final Christian Bale Batman movie). It wasn’t planned and we didn’t even finish the move as it was part of a social evening with guests which ended in a random film to half chat over. However, there was one scene which caught…
Christmas is here! Why do I say that? Well, partly because I watched Elf last night (and if you’re a big Elf fan, I recommend my blog on Buddy the Elf here) and, also, because I’ve got tickets to visit Friends Fest in London and Love Actually at the cinema within the next week –…
Intelligent Hand Dryers, a Company based in Sheffield specialising in, well, Hand Dryers, has recently introduced a ban on its employees using single use plastic including plastic water bottles, sandwich wrappers with plastic ‘windows’, and disposable coffee cups with plastic linings, in order to reduce its environmental impact.
The owner of the Company, Andrew Cameron, has made the above a disciplinary offence and stated that if employees receive three warnings and continue to ignore this policy, they could be dismissed. The environmental benefits, if more businesses were to impose such policies, are obvious however is it fair to effectively make this a condition of employment? Surely the choice of an employee to buy a sandwich from a well-known supermarket at lunch time does not hinder their ability to perform their role?
It’s official. I’m a fully signed up member of Sky TV. I get to indulge in the football, my wife gets US dramas and we both get the F1. My family’s view? That we’ve ‘gone posh’… Yes, Sky TV is viewed with incredulous eyes within our family clan.
Why do I suddenly sound like a satellite TV salesman? Well, recently, on a whim, I recorded a program about the 1969 moon landing on the TV, which was excellent and marked the 50 year anniversary of Apollo 11’s landing on the moon. One of the most fascinating aspects of the show concerned interviews with NASA engineers who knew that one incorrect/flawed part on the shuttle could lead to mission failure and/or the deaths of the astronauts in front of the watching world. In fact, such were the risks that President Nixon had a printed speech ready in the event the astronauts died.
What does this have to do with employment law? Well, unbeknown to some, it is possible to dismiss a member of staff for ‘gross negligence’ and, being an employment law aficionado, the programme set me to thinking about this little-used reason for dismissal.>
It’s fair to say that Ryanair aren’t strangers to controversy. Whether it be their pricing strategy, public statements or otherwise, they seem to attract publicity for many reasons, whether good or bad.
Given their nature for publicity, it was perhaps predictable that the media (and social media) would seemingly target Ryanair for dismissing six staff members photographed sleeping on the floor of a crewroom in a Spanish airport. Indeed, on the face of it, it seems bizarre to punish staff who were ‘forced’ to sleep on the floor.
However, as with most situations, there is more to the story than the headline would suggest and, dig a bit deeper, and it seems that Ryanair may actually have had legal grounds for dismissing the six staff members for Gross Misconduct based on the publicised facts.
Now, as a starting point, naturally, you can’t dismiss staff for sleeping on a floor. That would be ludicrous and completely unfair. But, in this case, that isn’t why Ryanair dismissed their staff members.
So, why did Ryanair sack them? What’s the big difference? Well, put simply, Ryanair believe that the staff members ‘staged’ the photograph and did so with a view to damaging their reputation. And, whilst people are perhaps inclined to automatically distrust the public statements of big companies in situations like this (and, instead, support the ‘underdog’), it appears that Ryanair has a point.
How can anyone judge this? Well, put simply, because Ryanair published a CCTV video online showing the staff standing or sitting around and then appearing to agree to the taking of a photograph. All the staff members then move over and arrange themselves in a close formation on the floor before an individual takes a photograph of them lying on the floor (which they weren’t doing before).
If, like me, you have been enjoying Kay Mellor’s comedy drama Girlfriends on ITV, you may have cringed at some of the artistic licence deployed when dealing with aspects of the age discrimination claim being brought by Miranda Richardson’s character against her boss (and lover), played by Anthony Head. However, it has neatly highlighted the particular difficulties that can arise when workplace disputes get a bit too close to home.
A real life family dispute has been playing out in the Manchester Employment Tribunal and, more recently, in the Employment Appeal Tribunal. There is a major clue in the name of the case: Mrs J Feltham, B Feltham (Maintenance) Limited and Ms H Feltham v Feltham Management Limited, Mr D Feltham and Mr M Feltham. Feltham Management is a long established family business, specialising in property management, particularly in respect of student lettings. Jane Feltham is the claimant. She has three brothers, David, Martin and Stephen, all of whom were respondents in the Employment Tribunal claim. They all worked for the family business which was founded by their father. Hazel, the adult child of David, worked for the company as a clerical assistant and Jane’s husband was Mr Eckersall, a self-employed joiner who did work for the company.
In August 2013 it came to light that Mr Eckersall had been sending inappropriate texts and Facebook messages to his niece, Hazel. On the same day he told his wife, Jane, that he was leaving her because he had feelings for Hazel. Jane confronted Hazel, accusing her of inappropriate conduct, but she denied that she had done anything wrong. Jane’s brother David got involved and told Jane that if was her fault because she did not take Mr Eckersall’s name on marriage, did not respect him as head of the household and suggested that these (among other reasons) were why he wanted Hazel. Jane was upset and left work. She did not return.
With support from David, Hazel took over Jane’s duties as office manager. The company stopped paying Jane from the end of August, but she remained a director as well as continuing to receive benefits including a company car and credit card.
It’s nearly here! Christmas is just five days away! The radio stations are playing Last Christmas by Wham on loop, supermarkets are clogging up the TV with advertisements for gooey desserts and it’s getting easier and easier to spot those remaining advert calendar squares!
Every family tends to have an annual pre-Christmas tradition and I’m no different. In fact, mine is to visit my younger family members each year and watch Elf with them. For those not in the know, Elf is a Christmas film which came out in 2003 and stars Will Ferrell as a human who is adopted by Santa’s elves and raised as a Christmas Elf at the North Pole. It sounds terrible but, in fact, it’s a cult classic that was named Best Christmas film in a recent survey!
Anyway, what better time of the year to explore whether or not Buddy the Elf is a good employee or not? I mean, it is an employment law-related and Christmas-themed topic, so what are we waiting for? Let’s travel through the Candy Cane forest and explore this further!
So, to give us some background, Buddy was a baby at an orphanage who snuck into Santa’s sack one night. When Santa discovers him at the bottom of his sack upon his return to the North Pole, an elf adopts him and raises Buddy as his own. Unfortunately, Buddy grows at three times the rate (and height) of the elves and, eventually, discovers that he is a human, not a Christmas Elf. Aside from his height, this is especially noticeable when Buddy can ‘only’ make 85 Etch-A-Sketches a day rather than his 1,000 daily target in Santa’s workshop. Upon discovering that he is human, Buddy goes to New York to find his real father and save him from the naughty list, as well as looking for a more normal life.
During the film, Buddy has work experience at his real father’s book company, work experience in a mail room and works as an employee of a large department store in the Christmas section. Buddy is dedicated and keen but, overall, was he a good employee (by UK employment law standards)?
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