Mrs Lodge was employed by Dignity and Choice in Dying as Head of Finance. She relocated to Melbourne 10 months after commencing employment, with Dignity’s permission, to look after her sick mother. It was agreed that she would work remotely from Australia on a permanent basis but was required to return to London three times a year for work purposes.
Mrs Lodge resigned in 2013 and brought claims for constructive unfair dismissal and whistleblowing. The Employment Tribunal decided that it had no jurisdiction to hear her claims because she was based in Australia. The EAT overturned this decision and allowed her to pursue her claims.
The EAT held that she had a sufficiently close relationship to the UK to bring her case using its tribunal system. In particular, her contract was governed by English law and the work she carried out was done for the benefit of the London head office. In addition, a grievance that she had raised from Melbourne had been handled by the London office in accordance with the UK policy. Her only connections to Australia were that she lived and was taxed there. All her work was for the UK operations of a UK-based employer.
With the increase in remote working, this case provides a useful illustration of how a ‘virtual employee’ has the same rights to bring an employment claim as a ‘physical employee’