Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Mind Your Language!

The Head Coach of Super League Rugby League club St Helens has been dismissed for gross misconduct after allegations that he swore at employees of two clubs and at a match official.

The harsh penalty will surprise many, particularly those used to seeing professional footballers use "colourful" language with apparent impunity.

The Employment Tribunals have long recognised that bad language can be a ground for a fair dismissal. An employer is entitled to lay down its own rules and if it is made clear from the outset that bad language is not acceptable even an isolated incident may lead to dismissal.

If there is no express rule, then the Tribunal will look at the context – a one-off remark whilst under stress followed by a prompt apology may not justify dismissal where a lengthy tirade would do. Similarly the sort of banter which might be acceptable on a building site may not be appropriate in a Solicitors' office. Swearing at superiors, which is seen as insubordination, is likely to be particularly frowned on.

It now remains to be seen whether the Tribunal will have to adjudicate on this case!

For more details see:-

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_league/super_league/st_helens/4527831.stm

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Wonders Of Modern Technology?

A recent study by a Psychologist at the University of London suggests that constant text messaging and use of email reduces mental capability and performance by the equivalent of 10 IQ points.

More and more businesses are becoming aware of the effect on productivity of the use of personal mobile telephones during working hours and a sizeable number of dismissal cases now relate to unauthorised use of work IT for personal activities.

Any well-run business will want to have an IT policy making clear what is and is not allowed – many of the cases where unfair dismissal has been found have arisen because proper parameters were not set. A good argument can be made for a blanket ban during work time in view of the apparent interruptions to concentration which email and text can bring.

For more details see:-

Out of Sight, Out of Mind?

The Court of Appeal has now confirmed that in calculating Maternity Pay entitlements account must be taken of any pay rises which the employee would have received from their employer had they not been absent.

Michelle Alabaster's case against Woolwich plc went all the way to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg before returning to the Court of Appeal where she was awarded the princely sum of £204.53 plus interest.

This case follows on from the decision of the Employment Appeals Tribunal last year that failure to keep a maternity absentee informed of developments at work (in that case a vacancy for which she may have been interested in applying) was capable of being a breach of the implied term of mutual trust and confidence and therefore of giving rise to a constructive unfair dismissal claim.

All in all, a salutary lesson that those on maternity and similar types of leave should always be kept in mind and not simply forgotten for the duration of their absence.

For more details see:-