We round-up the latest employment news.

Update on the term-time holiday pay case of Brazel

Many organisations were concerned to learn they weren’t giving term-time staff and permanent zero-hours workers sufficient holiday, following the ruling in Brazel v The Harpur Trust. Last month, we reported that the school had lodged an application asking for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. We now know that the Court of Appeal has rejected that application. But that’s not the end of the story, and the school has made an application to the Supreme Court asking for permission to appeal.

We don’t yet know when that application will be considered, but will keep you updated.

Employment Tribunal statistics reveal highest award of £948,000 made for unfair dismissal claim

The government has recently published quarterly statistics, which compare April – June 2019 to the same quarter the previous year. These reveal:

Numbers of claims increased (again)

  • The number of single claims continues to increase following the abolition of fees. Claims increased over this period by 14% to 9,700.

Around 40% of claims decided at a hearing

  • 25% of claims were settled via ACAS, 22% were withdrawn, 13% were struck out, and 9% were successful at hearing. This indicates that 31% were unsuccessful at hearing.

Average wards remain fairly low for most claims

  • Tribunals made awards in 774 claims. The highest average award of £28,371 was for claims of disability discrimination, and the lowest average of £4,767 was for claims of religious discrimination. The average award for unfair dismissal was £13,704
  • The highest sum awarded in an employment tribunal claim was an eye-watering £947,585 in an unfair dismissal claim
  • The highest sum awarded in a discrimination claim was £416,015 for disability discrimination.

Fee refunds

  • Since fees were abolished, over £17.5 million has been refunded, with £264,603 refunded this quarter.


Costs orders remain uncommon and only 209 awards were made this quarter, mainly to respondents. The average costs award remains similar to previous years at £2,400. The highest costs award was £329,386.

Report from Health and Safety Executive (HSE) highlight the poor mental health of many of the UK’s workers

The HSE recently issued a report on work-related stress, anxiety or depression statistics in Great Britain. It makes depressing reading.

It reveals that 602,000 workers suffered from these types of mental health problems in 2018/19 – a figure not statistically significantly different from the previous period. The total number of working days lost was 12.8 million days, equating to an average of 21.2 days lost per case.

In 2018/19, stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 44% of all work-related ill health cases and 54% of all working days lost due to ill health.

Stress, depression or anxiety is more prevalent in public service industries, such as education, health and social care, and public administration and defence. Professional occupations common across public service industries (such as healthcare workers, teaching professionals, and public service professionals) show higher levels of stress, compared to all jobs.

The main work factors cited by respondents causing work-related stress, depression or anxiety were workload pressures (including tight deadlines), too much responsibility, and a lack of managerial support.

Government’s response to influential report on non-disclosure agreements (NDAs)

The Women and Equalities Select Committee has published the government's response to its report on the use of NDAs in discrimination and harassment cases. You can read our summary of the Committee’s recommendations.

The government confirms that it will introduce legislation curbing the use of NDAs in settlement agreements, and will set out strict legal requirements that have to be met. This includes the fact that individuals must receive independent legal advice about the limitations on the NDA before signing the document. If an agreement doesn’t meet these requirements, the confidentiality provisions can’t be enforced. The government says employers should ‘contribute appropriately’ to the costs of the individual’s legal advice, but it will not set down minimum rates.

Similarly, it will legislate to require employers to set out clearly the limits of non-disclosure provisions contained in the employment contract. If this isn’t complied with and the individual brings a successful employment claim, they’ll receive additional compensation.

Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) publishes new guidance on NDAs

The EHRC has published new guidance on the use of confidentiality agreements in discrimination cases. It sets out good practice, and clarifies the law on the enforceability and (current) legality of such agreements.

Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) looking for suggestions to design an accountability toolkit

The ICO has announced that it will be developing a toolkit to help organisations comply with their accountability obligations under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It intends to launch this in 2020.

Accountability is a key principle of the GDRR. Controllers aren’t just responsible for compliance with the general principles – they must also be able to demonstrate that compliance. The ICO wants the toolkit to help organisations achieve compliance.

The consultation closes on Monday 9 December 2019. Controllers are invited to submit their views and suggestions to the ICO on its initial proposals for the scope, structure and design of the toolkit to help it produce a framework that’s user friendly and fit for purpose.

Gender pay gap: Office for National Statistics publish its findings

The Office for National Statistics has published its report into the gender pay gap in the year to April 2019. These reveal:

  • The gender pay gap among full-time employees stands at 8.9%. Little changed from 2018, and there’s been a decline of only 0.6 percentage points since 2012
  • The gender pay gap among all employees fell from 17.8% in 2018 to 17.3% in 2019, and continues to decline
  • For age groups under 40, the gender pay gap for full-time employees is now close to zero
  • Among 40 to 49-year-olds, the gap (currently 11.4%) has decreased substantially over time
  • Among 50 to 59-year-olds and those over 60 years, the gender pay gap is over 15% and isn’t declining strongly over time.

One of the reasons for differences in the gender pay gap between age groups is that women over 40 years are more likely to work in lower-paid occupations and, compared with younger women, are less likely to work as managers, directors or senior officials.

This information isn’t taken from published gender pay gap reports, which were introduced a couple of years ago. Instead, the estimates are based on information gathered from a sample of 1% of employees in the UK. The estimates are therefore provisional and relate to the reference date Thursday 11 April 2019.

Official statistics show employment rates for 50+ are increasing

The government has published its fourth annual publication on the economic labour market status of individuals aged 50 and over.

It reveals:

  • The employment rates across both genders and all age groups have all increased since 1999. For the first time, the employment rate for females in the 60-64 age group is higher than the economically inactive rate
  • The largest increase since 1999 amongst both males and females was in the 60-64 age group (up from 24.3% to 51.4 % for females, and up from 47.6% to 60.8% for males)
  • For both males and females, the employment rate decreases as age increases, with the transition between the 60-64 age group and 65-69 age group resulting in the largest fall in employment rate
  • The sharpest increase in the proportion in full-time employment between 2014 and 2019 has been in the 60-64 age group, particularly amongst females
  • The proportion in part-time employment is broadly static between 2014 and 2019 for both the 35-49 and 50-54 age groups.