• Mobility clause was too widely drafted meaning that employees had not behaved unreasonably in refusing to move and subsequent dismissals were unfair: in the case of Kellogg Brown & Root (UK) Ltd v (1) Fitton & (2) Ewer the employer succeeded in an argument that two employees who refused to move offices upon a workplace closure were dismissed by reason of conduct and not redundancy. However, the dismissals were ultimately held to be unfair. Although the contract contained a mobility clause which purported to allow the employer to relocate employees, it was too widely drafted. This meant that the instruction to relocate was unreasonable and the claimants' refusal to move was reasonable. This case reminds employers to be cautious about taking the black letter of the contract at face value. Unlike in many areas of law, in employment law contractual terms are always supplemented by the implied term of mutual trust and confidence. With mobility clauses, this means employers must assess the impact on the workforce of exercising the clause and seek to mitigate this impact. Employers should ensure contractual terms are as clear and specific as possible. Although it may feel attractive to draft a mobility clause widely, as the employer did here, where it is so wide as to be uncertain and/or unreasonable the Employment Tribunal will resist enforcing it. You can read our full report on the decision here.
  • No implied term that requirement to repay a company loan was waived in a voluntary redundancy situation: in the case of Ali v Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago the Privy Council held that an employee who took voluntary redundancy was still required to repay a company loan when he fell short of the length of service requirement for repayment to be waived: there was no implied term that repayment wasn't required in these circumstances. This decision suggests that, in the absence of any express terms, employees in voluntary redundancy situations will be required to repay any loans or other debts to their employer, but that employees who are made compulsorily redundant may not. To avoid disputes ending up in court, it is always best to include express wording in the terms of any conditional loan agreements to address what should happen regarding repayment in the event that any of the conditions are not met, such as employment terminating before an agreed term. As the terms of the repayment loan in this case are similar to many other conditional loan arrangements (such as enhanced maternity pay schemes or study loans), employers should check whether express terms have been included in those agreements to deal with situations like early termination of employment and how that might affect repayment. You can read our full report on this decision here.
  • Notice to terminate employment takes effect when employee personally takes delivery of the notice letter: in the case of Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust v Haywood the Court of Appeal struggled to decide the rules around when notice to terminate an employee's employment takes effect under the contract. They concluded that notice is served only when the employee, personally, has taken delivery of the letter containing notice. Here, the employee was away on holiday and didn't receive the letter until her return. The Court decided that notice was served on her return, notwithstanding that it had also been emailed to her and posted in a letter collected by her father-in-law in her absence. However, there was no requirement that the employee must have read the letter before the notice became effective. Employers should include express guidance in the notice clauses of employee contracts, specifying when the notice will take effect and how it can be served. The Court was clear that its conclusions were reached in the absence of express terms in the claimant's contract about this. In particular, in today's business world, it would be sensible to include an express term that notice can be served over email. You can read our full report on the decision here. The employer's appeal was heard by the Supreme Court in 20 November 2017 and judgment is awaited.