Case roundup

This week’s case roundup

Contract frustrated by long-term illness
Collins v Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, IDS Brief 687, EAT

Collins injured his right hand in 1996 and was on long-term sick leave from
that date. Apart from a small Christmas gift each year he received no payment
from the company but received statutory sick pay and subsequently incapacity
benefit. Each year his P60 showed that he had received zero pay.

Early in 1999, Collins was given the choice of remaining on the company’s
books or taking a redundancy payment. He chose the former but shortly
afterwards the company went into receivership. After being provided with the
relevant forms, Collins applied for a redundancy payment from the Secretary of
State but this was rejected on the basis that the contract of employment had
been frustrated by the events between 1996 and 1999.

The tribunal rejected Collins’ claim and his appeal to the EAT was
unsuccessful. Collins argued that the tribunal had given insufficient
consideration to the parties’ agreement and intention that the contract was
continuing but both the tribunal and the EAT took into account the fact that Collins
had no real intention or prospect of returning to work. Accordingly the
contract was frustrated.

Requirement to work full-time justified
Riddle v KLM UK, EOR Discrimination Digest 48 ET

Riddle worked as an in-flight supervisor and, after becoming pregnant, asked
to be considered for a part-time position.

KLM had an agreed procedure whereby full-time cabin crew could apply for a
part-time position and be added to the waiting list maintained for each base.
The availability of part-time positions was determined by what was practicable
for the base and what was financially viable for KLM.

When Riddle was due to return from maternity leave there were no part-time
positions available and there was in fact a staff shortage where Riddle worked.
KLM was unable to create a part-time position and Riddle had to remain on the
waiting list until a vacancy arose.

She brought an unsuccessful claim of indirect sex discrimination. The
tribunal held that KLM’s operational requirements were such that it had
objectively justified grounds for failing to transfer Riddle to part-time
employment.

Note: In Personnel Today, 27 March 2001 we reported on Chief Constable of
Yorkshire v Vento. Compensation has now been assessed and Vento was awarded
£257,000, made up of £65,000 for injury to feelings, (including £15,000
aggravated damages) £9,000 for personal injury and about £183,000 for loss of earnings/pension
rights.

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