It’s November and there are plenty of fireworks going off in the news, when it comes to employment law issues. As the latest row explodes over harassment claims and NDAs (non-disclosure agreements), and a major supermarket is hit with data protection sanctions, we’re here to shed some light on the issues that impact your business. So, what’s happening and what do you need to know …
Supermarket vicariously liable for payroll Data Breach
The Court of Appeal has upheld an earlier finding that Morrison Supermarkets is vicariously liable for an employee’s criminal disclosure of employee data (Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc v Various Claimants). By upholding the lower court’s determination, the Court of Appeal has allowed a group action compensation claim. It involves more than 5,000 staff who had their personal data stolen and put online. The supermarket now faces paying compensation to each of them. Employers should therefore consider having an effective compliance system in place, to prevent inadvertent data breaches, if not a determined rogue employee. In the latter case, having a dynamic incident response procedure and as the Court noted, insurance, may be the best protection against substantial damages claims. Read more here.
Pay Gap – latest
The UK’s gender pay gap has reached a record low 8.6%, according to official figures. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said provisional figures showed the median difference in full-time hourly pay was down from a level of 9.1% the previous year. Building on its gender pay gap reporting, the government has announced a consultation on ethnicity pay reporting (on a mandatory basis) and a race at work charter. The consultation is open until 11 January 2019. There’s more here.
As has been widely reported, a well known businessman has vehemently denied allegations of harassment and has been quoted as saying there had only “been some banter”. Whatever the facts of this high-profile case, it has certainly fuelled the ongoing debate about the use of NDAs in employment contracts and settlement agreements. While some organisations and individuals argue that NDAs are being unfairly used to silence victims of harassment, others point out that in many cases, NDAs can be a helpful way for employers and employees to reach a deal that allows both parties to move on. What does appear certain at this stage, is that confidentiality undertakings in such agreements are going to be far more heavily regulated and narrowed and that any allegations of harassment will need to be properly investigated and appropriate action taken irrespective of settlement terms. Additionally, those in regulated positions may be subject to compulsory reporting as part of their assessment of fitness and propriety. As ever, having a clear and up to date equal opportunities policy and carrying out regular training is imperative in maintaining standards and challenging any potential exploitation of power.
We offer comprehensive, pragmatic and commercial advice to employers on all aspects of employment law. Please do get in touch if you would like advice on any of the issues covered in this edition of the Open Plan Law employment newsletter.
For more information contact David Evans on email@example.com or call 020 3405 9030.