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Thanks to medieval law, landowners of property within the parishes of Anglican churches built before 1536 can be held liable for their share of the costs of repairing or replacing the local parish “chancel”, namely the area around the altar in a church.

There is no limit on the sum that the Parochial Church Council (“PCC”) can claim from homeowners for chancel repair.  In a landmark case in 2003, a homeowning couple were ordered to pay the PCC £95,000 towards chancel repair and the PCC’s legal costs of around £250,000 for the lengthy legal battle, which concluded in the House of Lords.

Prior to 12 October 2013, a landowner could be pursued by the PCC for chancel repair liability, even if they had no knowledge of its existence.Churches did not have to protect their right to claim for chancel repair; it was automatic. Consequently, conveyancers simply insured against chancel repair liability, while the government sought to repeal the ancient law to make it harder for the PCC to claim funds from landowners.  The law was changed on 13 October 2013.

Since this date, churches have been required to protect their interest if they want to enforce liability against those purchasing land within their parish. This change in law was supposed to protect new buyers by making them aware that they could be held liable for chancel repair. Unfortunately, as highlighted further in this article by Jennifer Sole and Saskia Gates, with assistance from intern Arshid Mahmood, this objective has not been achieved conclusively and liability insurance may still be necessary.

Read more: Chancel repair liability – has the draconian tithe law expired at last?

The law implies a number of terms into contracts of employment to provide protection for both employers and employees. Some common implied terms are set out below:
 
Employers’ duties Employees’ duties
Duty to indemnify employees Duty to give personal service
Duty to take reasonable care of the employee’s safety and working conditions Duty to obey reasonable orders
 
Duty of mutual trust and confidence Duty of reasonable care and indemnity
Duty to take reasonable care in giving references Duty of fidelity and good faith
Duty to notify on termination without notice Duty not to make a secret profit
Duty to give reasonable notice Not to conflict any personal interest with their duty of fidelity
Duty to comply with the employee’s statutory rights Duty of mutual trust and confidence













The recent Supreme Court case, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospital NHS Foundation Trust v Haywood, concerned the date at which notice of termination by post was deemed to be effective in the absence of an express term.
 
Facts: Mrs Haywood had been an NHS employee for over 30 years and in early 2011 she was notified that she may be made redundant. Mrs Haywood’s contractual notice period was 12 weeks and her 50thbirthday was fast approaching. If Mrs Haywood’s employment was terminated following her 50thbirthday she would been entitled to a significantly larger retirement pension than she would be if her employment terminated before that date.
 
It was calculated that if notice of termination was provided to Mrs Haywood on or after the 27 April 2011; her notice would expire on or after her 50thbirthday. The Trust sent a letter of termination on 20 April to both Mrs Haywood’s husband’s email address and by recorded delivery to her home.
 
Mrs Haywood was away on holiday from 18 April until 27 April and so was absent when the letter delivery was attempted. The letter was subsequently sent to the Post Office for collection. Mrs Haywood’s father-in-law collected the letter on 26 April and Mrs Haywood read it upon her return on 27 April.
 
The Trust argued that the notice commenced on the date the letter was delivered (26 April), however, Mrs Haywood claimed that it ran from the date the notice was read (27 April).
 
Both the High Court and Court of Appeal ruled in favour of Mrs Haywood and so the Trust appealed to the Supreme Court.
 
Legal issue: On which date did Mrs Haywood’s notice period start to run?
 
Finding: The Supreme Court held that the notice period starts to run from the date the employee receives the letter of dismissal and either reads it or has had reasonable opportunity to do so. In this case, therefore Mrs Haywood’s notice ran from 27 April.
 
 
Implication: Although some contracts of employment set out how notice of termination will be provided and when it will be deemed received, many do not. They should!
 
In the absence of an express term the above outlined implied term will take effect. What is considered ‘reasonable’ will turn on the facts of each case.
 
If an employer considers that the implied term will cause issues, it should make express provisions in the contract, both as to the methods of giving notice and as to the time at which such notices are deemed to have been received.
 
Additionally, if employers are keen to dismiss an individual prior to a certain date for contractual purposes, they should consider carrying out the dismissal in person (followed by a written confirmation) to ensure that notice starts to run from that date.
 
Few people will have missed the Gender Pay Gap Reporting headlines in recent months. But it seems that it wasn’t just a few companies who failed to submit their pay data before the statutory deadline. Some 1,500 companies failed to submit their data on time. Has your company complied? Will companies that haven’t face sanction?
Either way we now have, for the first time, access to a substantial amount of pay data from public and private companies. Now the dust has settled, what can we take from it (or the lack thereof)?

The requirement

Under legislation introduced last year (the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations) 2017) all companies, voluntary organisations and public-sector bodies based in England, Scotland and Wales (but not Northern Ireland) with more than 250 employees have to report the difference in average hourly pay between men and women. The pay gap is expressed as a proportion of men’s earnings. This is the first requirement of its kind and a fairly big shake-up in in what has historically been a very private and guarded matter.

The pay data published

More than 10,600 employers published their pay data. According to the Office for National Statistics, the national average is 18.4%. However, that’s not the full story. Partners and LLP members are not covered by the reporting requirements. Inclusion of this data could make the gap much higher. The data confirms substantial pay gaps in certain industries, such as financial services, aviation and construction. This might be for many reasons but is likely to include: more men at the top; a failure to recruit women into certain levels of the business; or discriminatory practices in pay and promotion. The figures do need to be broken down and understood, for example at Boux Avenue the high pay gap may be because a lot of its female employees are shop workers, whereas those in head office and running the business are more likely to be male:
 
  1. Ryanair Ltd reported a pay gap of 71.8%
     
  2. HSBC reported a pay gap of 59%
     
  3. Boux Avenue reported a pay gap of 75.7%
The Government has introduced new measures coming into effect from 6 April 2018 which clarify the position in respect of employer’s liability to pay tax and national insurance contributions on payments made on the termination of employment.

The new provisions apply to termination payments where the employee’s termination date falls on or after 6 April 2018.

The new legislation assesses and divides payments into two categories:
  1. Earnings; and,
  2. All other payments.

Read more: New Measures for Tax and NI on Termination

Introduction
 
Most properties in the UK are required to be rated on a scale from A – G, with G being the least energy efficient. The rating of a property is detailed in the Energy Performance Certificate for that property. The relevant legislation is the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015 (“the Regulations”), which originate from the Energy Act 2011 and introduced the minimum energy efficiency standard.
 
The Regulations make it unlawful for a landlord to let a property which is considered to have a “sub-standard” energy efficiency, that being those properties rated as either a F or G.

Read more: Warning: Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards for Commercial and Residential Landlords from 1 April...

A stark warning to businesses for backdated holiday pay claims

The European Union (CJEU) judgment in the case of King v Sash Window Workshop Limited is highly likely to have profound implications for businesses benefiting from the so-called “gig economy”, who engage with self-employed workers. It exposes businesses to significant backdated holiday pay claims.    

Read more: Holiday pay for the “self-employed”

In July 2017, Lord Justice Jackson announced his long-awaited proposals for evolving the fixed costs regime within civil litigation. The proposals are to be put before government and change will undoubtedly be on the horizon for 2018. This could see a significantly different approach to the way costs incurred throughout litigation can be recovered, and to what extent these costs can be fixed from the start.

Lord Justice Jackson intends for the proposals to change the costs involved in certain cases within the different tracks of civil claims.

Read more: Fixed Costs in Civil Litigation

The recent case of British Airways (“BA”) v Pinaud serves as a reminder that discrimination of part-time workers is unlawful under the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 (“PTWR”) but that employers might avoid pay-outs if such treatment can be objectively justified.

The case involved a BA crew member who, upon returning from maternity leave, became a part-time worker.  Like other part-time workers, she was contracted to work 14 days on, 14 days off. The airline’s full-time staff were scheduled to work 6 days on, 3 days off. These work patterns meant that the full-time staff were required to be available for 243 days of the year, whereas those working part-time were required to be available for 130 days. Therefore, the requirement of availability for part-time employees amounted to 53.5% of that of BA’s full-time workers. However, those part-time workers were only paid 50% of full-time salary.  

Read more: Part-Time Workers’ Discrimination - British Airways v Pinaud

In a decision described by the barristers who acted for the successful Claimant, Mr Efobi, as “a radical reconsideration of the burden of proof”, last month the Employment Appeal Tribunal handed down judgment on how to correctly interpret the burden of proof provision concerning cases of direct discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 (“EqA”).

Read more: Efobi v Royal Mail Group – Case Summary

In 2016, in the case of Barbulescu v Romania, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that an employer was lawful in monitoring an employee’s messenger account. The ruling reinforced the UK Government’s current policy, which says that employers can monitor emails, or look at which websites workers visit, as long as they explain this clearly in the staff handbook or contract.

In this case, the employee had used a Yahoo messenger account to communicate with his brother and his partner. The news was welcomed by employers across the UK, and seemed to align with the expectation that an employee should devote their full time and attention to their job when at work.

However, the decision was then appealed to the Grand Chamber, which is the final tier. This summer, in an 11 to 6 judgment, the Chamber overturned the ECHR decision and gave judgment in favour of Bogdan Barbulescu, and the right to respect for privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Mr Barbulescu was therefore entitled to compensation for the breach of his human rights.

Read more: Win for employees’ right to privacy

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