Recent developments in UK labour law

Breastfeeding at work

Failure to accommodate mothers who wish to continue breastfeeding when returning to work after maternity leave can amount to sex discrimination.

This was the decision in two recent court cases involving Easyjet cabin crew on returning from maternity leave. Both mothers requested a change in the crew rosters to enable them to continue breastfeeding. Easyjet refused to make the change and the Court declared this refusal to be sex discrimination.

The Court held that Easyjet’s business case for refusing to change the crew rosters to enable¬†the mothers to continue breastfeeding¬†did not outweigh the impact of that decision on mothers in general or these mothers in particular.

As a result of this decision, all employers should take care to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate breastfeeding mothers. A risk assessment should be conducted and where possible facilities for expressing milk should be provided. Where such facilities are not available (as in the case of Easyjet aircraft), employers will need to consider changes to alternative working hours or (if not possible) an alternative role and ultimately suspension on normal pay.

Holiday pay and results based commission

It has now been finally clarified by the Court of Appeal that the calculation of the basic four week annual leave holiday pay should include results based commission payments made to the employee.

The calculation of a week’s pay for holiday purposes should be the average of the employee’s remuneration over a 12 week period, including any results based commission earned.

Reasonable adjustments for long term disability

A recent case held that it may not be reasonable to reduce the salary of a disabled employee who has taken on a role that is lower paid than their previous role, in order to accommodate their disability.

As a result, employers will need to look more deeply when considering the reasonable adjustments required for disability. They will need clear evidence of what is reasonable in the circumstances. Vague, unsupported assertions are likely to fail.