Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

In Knowles v The Inn at Whitehall Limited [ET/2410460/18] the Employment Tribunal considered the employment status of a casual worker and whether she had been discriminated against for a pregnancy related reason when a pub she worked for stopped offering her shifts after she suffered a bout of morning sickness.

The facts in Knowles v The Inn at Whitehall Limited

Holly Knowles (the ‘Claimant’) worked at a pub, the Inn at Whitehall (the ‘Respondent’) from January 2017.  She was a university student and worked casual, part time hours which varied from week to week.  In November, during a period of sickness when she was unable to work, she discovered she was pregnant and advised the person in charge of doing the rotas at the Respondent of that fact by way of a text.

Subsequent to advising the Respondent of her pregnancy, the Respondent stopped offering the Claimant shifts and failed to respond to her text asking for shifts once she felt better.  Only after the Claimant raised a grievance in January 2018 did the Respondent again offer her work.  The Respondent did respond to the Claimant’s grievance in writing, but did not offer her a meeting.

Then in March 2018 the Claimant rang HMRC and was advised by them that the Respondent had notified them that the Claimant had left employment with them in November 2017.  This prompted the Claimant to resign.  The Claimant made claims in the Employment tribunal for:

  1. Direct discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy (s18 Equality Act 2010)
  2. Victimisation (s27 Equality Act 2010)
  3. Failure to provide written particulars (s1 Employment Rights Act) 1996
  4. Failure to comply with the ACAS code of practice on grievances (s207A Trade Union and Labour Relation Act (Consolidation) 1992

The law

Section 18 of the Equality Act 2010 sets out that pregnancy and maternity are protected characteristics and describes direct discrimination in relation to them as follows:

‘A woman will suffer unlawful discrimination if she is treated unfavourably during the protected period of her pregnancy because of the pregnancy or any illness resulting from the pregnancy.’

Under s27(1) of the Equality Act 2020 victimisation is defined as follows:

‘A person (A) victimises another period (B) if A subjects B to a detriment because:

  • B does a protected act or
  • A believes that B has done or may do a protected act’

There is no definite definition of employee, although it is expressed in the Employment Rights Act 1996 as ‘an individual who has entered into or works under a contract of employment’.  Case law tells us there needs to be mutuality of obligation (e.g. an obligation to offer work and an obligation to take work), an obligation to provide personal service and sufficient control by the putative employer over the putative employee.

Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 states that ‘where an employee begins employment with an employer the employer shall give to the employee a written statement of particulars of employment….’

Finally, paragraph 33 of the ACAS Code of Practice says that ‘Employers should arrange for a formal meeting to be held without unreasonable delay after a grievance is received and s207A of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 states that an Employment Tribunal can increase any award it makes to an employee by no more than 25% where there has been a breach of the ACAS Code of Practice.

Decision of the Employment Tribunal

The Employment Tribunal held that the Respondent had withheld work from the Claimant because she was pregnant and suffering from a pregnancy related illness.  They therefore upheld the Claimant’s claim for direct discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy.  They found no evidence that the Respondent had been in contact with HMRC and as a result the Claimant’s claim of victimisation failed.  They did however find that the mutuality of obligation between the parties was just sufficient to find an overarching contract of employment.  As a result, they upheld the Claimant’s claim in respect of a written statement of particulars.  Finally, the Employment Tribunal found that even though they had not held a grievance meeting, the Respondent had been willing to meet with the Claimant and so did not find that its conduct was unreasonable.  As a result, this claim failed as well.

Our solicitors’ views on the case of Knowles v The Inn at Whitehall Limited

Sacha Barrett, a Senior Associate in the employment department at Redmans, made the following comments on the case: “This case highlights the importance of employers understanding the legal status of those who they offer work to and the legal rights that flow from that status as well as the responsibilities on them as employers.”

The decision of the Employment Tribunal in [ET/2410460/18] can be found here.

About

Redmans Employment Team deal with employment matters for both employers and employees, including drafting employment contracts and policies, advising employers and employees on compromise agreements, handling day-to-day HR issues, advising on restructures, and handling Employment Tribunal cases for both employers and employees Call 020 3397 3603 to speak to one of the members of our employment team or email us on enquiries@redmans.co.uk. Redmans have offices in Richmond, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Fulham, Kingston, Wimbledon, Ealing, Kings Cross and Marylebone (meetings strictly by appointment only).

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

    Your first name (required)

    Your last name (required)

    Your email (required)

    Your telephone number (required)

    Brief details of your enquiry

    Contact us

    Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

    T: 020 3397 3603
    E: enquiries@redmans.co.uk
    W: www.redmans.co.uk

    Testimonials

    4.76 Average

    235 Reviews

    Paul O

    Chris & Rana guided me through a redundancy discussion. Prompt & patient assistance with the documents & meetings. Clear advice & fast responses regarding negotiations. Would definitely recommend & would use again without hesitation.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Outstanding, efficient service. Thank you so much!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Jaswant S

    Very very happy with the good service I got Thank you so much for your help

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Mel and Chris were fantastic and supportive throughout! 1000% recommend.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Emma D

    Good responsive service

    Posted 1 month ago

    Mike T

    Good efficient service.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Brenda G

    Very professional and helpful

    Posted 1 month ago

    Charles A

    Chris Hadrill was recommended to me when I found myself in need of a solicitor at very short notice. He contacted me almost immediately to arrange a call. Chris handled my case in a professional and timely manner and kept me notified throughout. Chris inspired confidence and made me feel I was being cared for. If ever I'm in need of legal representation, I would not hesitate to contact Chris. And will gladly recommend him to family and friends.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Rosalind R

    I was very happy with the service that I received from Redmans Solicitors. They were able to advise me accordingly with regards to my employment matter and stay within the agreed costing.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Karl B

    Caroline and Chris were so helpful and friendly. Couldn't of asked for a better service.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Dimitrios P

    Excellent, professional service, in time and within the expected value.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Barbara K

    Everything quickly and fairly. Very professional. Thank you.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Sabrina J

    I received a efficient professional service during the whole process of liasing between myself and my former employer to getting all forms signed and receiving my redundancy payment in full in the summer of this year.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    I received legal advice on a redundancy settlement agreement from Redmans Solicitors and was very impressed by the quality of their service. Chris Hadrill is highly experienced in settlement matters and was especially understanding of the particulars of my case, going out of his way to ensure that it was resolved quickly and with the utmost professionalism. I have no hesitation in recommending Redmans to anyone in need of employment advice and settlement resolution.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Excellent service, with full explanations of everything needed. Both Chris and Mel answered all emails very promptly and were personable and efficient.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    I would like to thank Chris Hadrill, in particular who handled my case, for all his hard work, expertise and dedication. He listened with empathy and offered suitable advice, which made me feel valued and confident through a difficult time. I would highly recommend Chris and the team at Redmans Solicitors. Thank you.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Yann G

    Yann Guezennec / Chris Hadrill - Thanks for the detailed, informed and professional advice for my settlement. When comprise is the rule I felt we could have been maybe a bit more aggressive from the start. However an acceptable outcome considering the situation. Thank you

    Posted 1 month ago

    Valentina D

    Great service from Mel, she was very good at explaining every part of the settlement agreement and very efficient dealing with the HR team. Very professional team, I would definitely use them again in future if the opportunity came up.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Olaf S

    I was very happy with the service that I have received. Thank You Regards

    Posted 2 months ago

    Rebecca A

    I had a wonderful solicitor called Caroline who was so helpful and gave me all the information I need and explained everything in detail so I was crystal clear. Would highly recommend if you are in need of a solicitor!

    Posted 2 months ago

    Gareth J

    Very efficient, helpful and pragmatic support from Caroline. Happy to work with my requirements / suggestions but also made some very good points which helped to achieve a higher settlement amount. Would highly recommend Caroline and Chris.

    Posted 2 months ago