Statement of Changes March 2022 – A Corporate Immigration Perspective

The UK government released a “Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules” on March 15, 2022. The government believes these changes to be an important part of their post-COVID “Plan for Growth.” The changes are also being implemented with the intention of simplifying the UK immigration system. Further simplified rules will be published later this year, with the government intending to consolidate the Immigration Rules in 2023. The changes will take effect on various dates starting on April 6, 2022.

For the full alert, visit the Faegre Drinker website.

Immigration Update: Europe’s Approach to Ukrainian Refugees

The Russia/Ukraine conflict has resulted in an exodus of refugees from Ukraine on a level which has not been experienced in Europe since World War II. Currently, close to three million refugees have fled Ukraine and some experts anticipate this number will increase to four to seven million. Countries are taking differing approaches to opening their borders to Ukrainian refugees.

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Employers Adjust as COVID-19 Restrictions and Regulations Are Rolled Back Globally

On February 21, Britain’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced that all of England’s COVID-19 regulations and restrictions would be revoked in coming weeks. Shortly thereafter, countries across the globe began to follow suit.

Employment Law Update: Employer Restrained from ‘Firing and Rehiring’, Dismissal for Raising Frivolous Grievances, and Employment Status of Taxi Driver

Tesco Restrained From ‘Firing and Rehiring’ Employees

In USDAW and ors v Tesco Stores Ltd [2022] EWHC 201 (QB), the High Court (HC) granted an injunction to restrain U.K. supermarket giant, Tesco, from ‘firing and rehiring’ employees who did not agree to the removal of a permanent right to a benefit.

This decision is significant as it offers a potential new legal remedy for employees whose employers are looking to ‘fire and rehire’ them in order to remove a permanent entitlement. The practice of ‘fire and rehire’ was already controversial and under increasing scrutiny prior to this decision, and it will be interesting to see the extent to which employers will try to deploy it in the future.

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U.K. Employment Tribunal Decisions: When Employees Refuse to Attend the Workplace for Fear of COVID-19

Recent Employment Tribunal (ET) decisions have shed light on the risks that can arise for employers where employees refuse to attend the workplace because of COVID-19 concerns. We consider below how ETs have dealt with claims of discrimination and automatic unfair dismissal related to COVID-19.

Discrimination

In X v. Y (ET 241947/2020), an employer withheld an employee’s wages after she refused to attend the workplace due to her fear that she would contract COVID-19 and pass it on to her vulnerable husband. The employee brought a claim for unlawful discrimination arguing that her opinion regarding the risk of COVID-19 and the need to protect herself amounted to a philosophical belief that was capable of constituting a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. The ET disagreed. It found that the employee’s view was not a philosophical belief protected under the Equality Act 2010 but “a widely held opinion based on the present state of information” and a “reaction to a threat of physical harm”. Her claim therefore failed.

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U.K. Employment Law Update: Impact of Lack of Appeal on Fairness of Redundancy Process, Dismissal for Assertion of a Statutory Right, and Dismissal of Whistleblower

Was a Redundancy Dismissal Unfair Because of Lack of Appeal?

In Gwynedd Council v (1) Barratt (2) Hughes [2021] EWCA Civ 1322, the Court of Appeal (CA) considered whether an employer’s failure to give an employee an opportunity to appeal against the decision to dismiss them for redundancy rendered the dismissal unfair.

The claimants were teachers who were dismissed for redundancy as a result of the closure of the school at which they taught. They brought a claim for unfair dismissal, arguing that the redundancy process had been unfair, in part because they were not given an opportunity to appeal their dismissal.

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