In brief

This month’s news in brief

Pregnancy dismissals

An employee was not automatically unfairly dismissed for a reason connected
with pregnancy (section 99 ERA) where her post-natal depression arose after the
end of her maternity leave. Employees gains special protection from dismissal
only if the ill-health arises during the maternity leave period. Note that the
dismissal may still be unfair under s98 of the ERA, and that other forms of
liability, eg sex discrimination may still arise. (Langley v Essex Rivers
Healthcare Trust, EAT.

Waiver clauses in fixed-term contracts

A worker was employed on a series of contracts, each one for an academic
year (10 months). No contract had been for a year or more, so they were of
insufficient length to have ever included a valid waiver of the right to claim
unfair dismissal. The rules on the validity of waivers in fixed-term contracts
and their renewals or extensions are complicated. Employers should check that
waivers are valid before relying on them. (Puncher v Bishop Grossteste College,
EAT)

Tribunal procedure

Where tribunal complaints are withdrawn, it was thought applicants were
prevented from resurrecting the same claim, or another based on substantially
the same facts. The Court of Appeal held this rule should not apply where applicants
make clear they are not abandoning their claim but merely wish to discontinue
the existing proceedings. The Court of Appeal suggests tribunals should ask
applicants to clarify whether or not they wish to abandon their claims.
(Rothschild Asset Management v Ako, CA)

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