What legal issues and cases should HR be mindful of in the year ahead? Trevor Bettany, partner, and Anne-Marie Balfour, solicitor, at Speechly Bircham, give their picks.
The Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008 becomes law: This increases the maximum fines, and the number of health and safety offences for which imprisonment of relevant directors and managers may apply.
Action: Make sure directors and those responsible for health and safety are aware of the importance of compliance.
Heyday challenge (European Court of Justice): The European Court of Justice's (ECJ) decision on the Heyday challenge to the default retirement age of 65 set out in the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 is due early this year. The advocate-general suggested the rule could be objectively justified under the Equal Treatment Directive. If the ECJ follows suit, the High Court will have to decide whether it is in fact justified. In the meantime, all claims concerning forced retirement have been stayed pending the Heyday decision.
Action: Monitor whether and when enforced retirement will need to be justified.
Stringer & Others v HM Revenue & Customs (ECJ): The ECJ is due to decide whether the Working Time Directive permits staff on long-term sick leave to accrue statutory minimum annual leave. The advocate-general suggested leave does accrue, and that the workers concerned can designate a future period as paid leave, but can't take it during their absence, and will be entitled to payment in lieu of accrued leave on termination of employment. The same advocate-general suggested in Shultz-Hoff that a worker can take the accrued leave in a subsequent leave year. But this would be inconsistent with the Working Time Regulations, which state that statutory leave cannot be carried over.
Action: If the ECJ follows the same reaso