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    In its decision rendered on 28 February 2019, the Luxembourg Court of Appeal (Cour d’appel de Luxembourg) examined under which circumstances on-call duty performed at the workplace qualifies as actual working time.
    The issue raised was whether the time spent at night by an employee (i.e. the presence of an employee at the workplace) performing the work of a live-in carer was to be considered as ‘actual working time’.
    The Court expressly referred to EU case law and decided that the concept of actual working time is defined by two criteria, namely (i) whether the employee during such a period must be at the employer’s disposal, and (ii) the interference with the employee’s freedom to choose their activities.
    In view of the working hours provided for in the employment contract and in the absence of evidence proving that the employee would not have been at the employer’s home during her working hours, the Court found that the employee stayed at the employer’s home at night and at the employer’s request. It was irrelevant in this respect whether it was for convenience or not. It was further established that the employee could not leave during the night and return to her home and go about her personal business, so that the hours she worked at night were to be considered as actual working time.
    Given that the employee’s objections regarding her salary were justified (as the conditions of her remuneration violated statutory provisions), the Court decided that the dismissal was unfair.


Michel Molitor
Michel Molitor is the managing partner of MOLITOR Avocats à la Cour SARL in Luxembourg, www.molitorlegal.lu.

    In the context of collective redundancies the term ‘establishment’ (Betrieb) must be interpreted in compliance with the Collective Redundancies Directive 98/59/EC (the ‘Directive’). The early warning mechanism of Section 45a of the Austrian Labour Market Promotion Act (Arbeitsmarktförderungsgesetz, ‘AMFG’) is only triggered if the number of the planned redundancies reaches a relevant threshold in an establishment. In the present case the stores in question were qualified as separate establishments within the meaning of Section 45a AMFG.


Andreas Tinhofer
Andreas Tinhofer is a partner at Zeiler Floyd Zadkovich.

Markus Blatnig
Markus Blatnig is an associate at Zeiler Floyd Zadkovich.
Case Reports

2021/4 Budget considerations can justify indirect discrimination (UK)

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 1 2021
Keywords Discrimination General, Age Discrimination
Authors Carolyn Soakell
AbstractAuthor's information

    If an employer has a policy which is indirectly discriminatory and the employer’s aim is no more than saving money, the Court of Appeal (CA) has ruled that this cannot justify the discrimination. However, needing to balance the books can potentially be a valid justification for indirect discrimination.


Carolyn Soakell
Carolyn Soakell is a partner at Lewis Silkin LLP.

    In a recent Supreme Court decision, it was held by a 4-1 majority that there is no reason, in principle, why the provision of ‘reasonable accommodation’ for an employee with a disability should not involve the redistribution of duties.


Orla O’Leary
Orla O’Leary is an attorney-at-law at Mason Hayes & Curran, Dublin.
Case Reports

2020/34 Challenge to validity of Workplace Relations Act 2015 unsuccessful (IR)

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 3 2020
Keywords Unfair Dismissal, Fair Trial, Miscellaneous
Authors Orla O’Leary
AbstractAuthor's information

    A recent challenge to the constitutionality of the Irish Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has failed. The applicant in the case at hand argued that the WRC was unconstitutional for two reasons: (a) that the WRC carries out the administration of justice in breach of the general constitutional rule that only the courts may administer justice; and (b) several of the statutory procedures of the WRC were so deficient that they failed to vindicate the applicant’s personal constitutional rights. The High Court of Ireland dismissed both arguments.


Orla O’Leary
Orla O’Leary is a Senior Associate at Mason Hayes & Curran.

    Many national decisions in Germany in the past had to deal with employers’ requirements regarding religious symbols in the workplace. Also, in 2017, the ECJ has dealt with two matters of such. Whilst the ECJ strictly refers to the principles of entrepreneurial freedom, the Federal Labour Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht, the ‘BAG’) tends to give priority to religious freedom. Last year, the BAG appealed to the ECJ for final clarification, in particular regarding the relationship between the basic rights of entrepreneurs and the constitutional right to religious freedom, by way of a preliminary ruling procedure with its decision dated 30 January 2019.


Caroline Dressel
Caroline Dressel is an attorney-at-law at Luther Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbh
Case Reports

2019/47 Transfer of undertakings does not include temporary agency workers (AT)

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 4 2019
Keywords Transfer of undertakings, Transfer, Employees who transfer/refuse to transfer
Authors Thomas B. Pfalz
AbstractAuthor's information

    In a series of rulings the Austrian Supreme Court has made it clear that temporary agency workers are transferred to the transferee only if they are assigned to the transferor on a permanent basis. According to the Court, the facts of the cases at hand are not comparable to those of the ECJ ruling in Albron Catering BV (C-242/09). Hence the temporary agency workers remain with their original employer. However, some aspects of the Court’s reasoning seem unclear if not contradictory with regard to other recent judgments.


Thomas B. Pfalz
Thomas B. Pfalz is a Senior Scientist at the Institute for Law at the University of Klagenfurt.

    Relying on the prohibition of age discrimination stemming from Directive 2000/78, the Labour Tribunal of Leuven refused to apply a Collective Labour Agreement establishing the minimum monthly salary for employees depending on their work experience even if not relevant and the Royal Decree enforcing it. The jurisdiction grounded its decision on the fact that this gave a strong advantage to older employees without objective justification.


Gautier Busschaert
Gautier Busschaert is an attorney-at-law at Van Olmen & Wynant, Brussels, Belgium.

    This was a case alleging detrimental treatment for whistleblowing brought by an employee working outside the UK against two co-workers also working abroad in the same location. The Court of Appeal (CA) ruled that there was no jurisdiction for the Employment Tribunal (ET) to hear the claim in relation to personal liability of the co-workers because they were outside the scope of UK employment law. The CA’s judgment potentially has implications for other types of claim brought by UK employees posted abroad where similar personal liability provisions apply, such as discrimination and harassment.


Richard Lister
Richard Lister is a Managing Practice Development Lawyer at Lewis Silkin LLP.

    The Latvian Supreme Court recently used the ECJ Max Planck and Kreuziger judgments to explain how an employer can escape its obligation to compensate an employee for unused leave at the end of the employment relationship. The employer must prove that (a) it was possible for the employee to use the leave, and (b) the employer has in good time informed the employee that leave, if not used, might be lost and will not be compensated.


Gautier Busschaert
Gautier Busschaert is an Attorney at Van Olmen & Wynant.

    Both the French Supreme Court and the Versailles Court of Appeal held that an employer, who must ensure that liberties and fundamental rights of each employee are respected in the working community, may lawfully prohibit the wearing of any visible sign of political, philosophical or religious beliefs in the workplace, provided that the rule contained in the company rules and regulations applies without distinction to employees in direct contact with the customers of the company only. But in the absence of such rules, sanctioning an employee who refuses to remove her Islamic veil based on the wish of a customer, which does not qualify as a genuine and determining occupational requirement, amounts to an unlawful direct discrimination and should consequently be held null and void.


Claire Toumieux
Claire Toumieux is partner and Thomas Robert is an attorney at Allen & Overy LLP in Paris, France.

Thomas Robert

    Austrian courts have to deal with an increasing number of cases concerning dismissal on grounds of (alleged) discrimination. The particular challenge is to a draw a conclusive distinction between the concepts of disability and sickness.


Peter C. Schöffmann
Peter C. Schöffmann is a teaching and research associate at the Institute for Austrian and European Labour Law and Social Security Law at Vienna University of Economics and Business, www.wu.ac.at/en/ars.
Case Reports

2018/32 When is travelling time working time? (NO)

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 3 2018
Keywords Working time
Authors Marianne Jenum Hotvedt and Anne-Beth Engan
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Norwegian Supreme Court concludes that time spent on a journey ordered by the employer, to and from a place other than the employee’s fixed or habitual place of work, should be considered working time within the meaning of the statutory provisions implementing the Working Time Directive (2003/88/EC). This ruling takes into account the Advisory Opinion of the EFTA Court.


Marianne Jenum Hotvedt
Marianne Jenum Hotvedt is an associate professor at the Department of Private law, University in Oslo. She got her PhD on the thesis ‘The Employer Concept’.

Anne-Beth Engan
Anne-Beth Engan is a senior associate with the law firm Selmer AS in Oslo.

    The Court of Appeal has confirmed that discrimination arising from disability had occurred when an employer dismissed an employee for misconduct which was connected to the employee’s disability, even though the employer had no knowledge of the connection.


Emma Langhorn
Emma Langhorn is an Associate Solicitor at Lewis Silkin LLP.

    It was direct sex discrimination for a male employee who wished to take shared parental leave (SPL) to be entitled only to the minimum statutory pay where a female employee would have been entitled to full salary during an equivalent period of maternity leave, according to a first-instance decision from the Employment Tribunal (ET).


Anna Bond
Anna Bond is an Associate Solicitor at Lewis Silkin LLP.

    In a much publicised case, Uber drivers have won a first instance employment tribunal finding that they are ‘workers’ and not self-employed contractors. This decision means that they are entitled to basic protections, such as the national minimum wage, paid holiday (under the Working Time Directive) and protection against detriment for ‘blowing the whistle’ on wrong doing. The decision could have substantial financial consequences for Uber, which has around 40,000 drivers in the UK but Uber has already confirmed that it will appeal the decision, so we are unlikely to have a final determination on this question for some time.


Bethan Carney
Bethan Carney is a lawyer at Lewis Silkin LLP: www.lewissilkin.com.
Case Reports

2016/55 New Supreme Court decision on the distinction between independent contractors and employees (NO)

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 4 2016
Keywords Independent contractors, Employees
Authors Marianne Jenum Hotvedt and Anne-Beth Engan
AbstractAuthor's information

    EU employment protection is usually limited to “employees”, meaning that independent contractors are not covered. However, EU law often leaves it to Member States to determine the meaning of employee. The directives regulating transfers of undertakings, collective redundancies, written working conditions, information and consultation, part-time work, temporary agency workers etc. are all examples of protection covering only ‘employees’ as defined by each Member State.
    Consequently, the interpretation of ‘employee’ at the national level determines whether protection in EU law applies. This case report concerns the distinction between an independent contractor and employee. The question was whether a support worker for a child needing extra care and support should be considered as employed by Ålesund municipality. The majority (4-1) found that the support worker was an employee. The case illustrates how the notion of employee in Norwegian law adapts to new ways of organising work and may be of interest in other jurisdictions.


Marianne Jenum Hotvedt
Marianne Jenum Hotvedt is a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Private law, University in Oslo. In 2015, she got her Ph.D. on the thesis ‘The Employer Concept’.

Anne-Beth Engan
Anne-Beth Engan is an associate with Advokatfirmaet Selmer DA in Oslo.

    The Court of Appeal has given guidance on how to determine employment status in discrimination cases where the claimant is engaged on a case-by-case basis. The judgment confirms that the lack of mutual obligations between the putative employer and employee between assignments can be a relevant factor. If an individual is engaged on an assignment-by-assignment basis, with the freedom to turn down work when it is offered, this may imply a lack of subordination during the periods of work. The absence of an overarching ‘umbrella’ contract between assignments may therefore be relevant when determining whether an individual is protected by discrimination law.


Tom McEvoy
Tom McEvoy is a Trainee Solicitor at Lewis Silkin LLP: www.lewissilkin.com.
Case Reports

2016/57 No compensation for an invalid non-compete clause where no harm shown (FR)

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 4 2016
Keywords Non-compete, Damage compensation
Authors Claire Toumieux and Susan Ekrami
AbstractAuthor's information

    An employee who could not prove any harm resulting from an invalid non-compete clause in his employment contract could not obtain damages.


Claire Toumieux
Claire Toumieux and Susan Ekrami are a partner and associate with Allen & Overy LLP in Paris, www.allenovery.com.

Susan Ekrami

    The Industrial Disputes Court considered certain substantive and procedural issues in the context of a claim for sexual harassment and victimisation. This case provides a good illustration of the principles the tribunals apply when examining sexual harassment cases and how these are interpreted by Cypriot employment courts.


Anna Praxitelous
Anna Praxitelous is a lawyer with George Z. Georgiou & Associates LLC, www.gzg.com.cy. This article was originally edited by, and first published on, www.internationallawoffice.com.
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