Junior civil servants who didn’t wish to attend lockdown-breaching events held at 10 Downing Street risked being compelled to take authorized motion and put their careers in jeopardy, a senior employment lawyer has mentioned.
The regulation expects individuals to face up for themselves, consultants have mentioned, with workers largely anticipated to adjust to their bosses. Whistleblowing laws is never used as a result of persons are anxious about repercussions.
“You’re going to struggle as an employee to effectively have any protection against doing what your boss asks you to do unless it is unpleasant, discriminatory or illegal,” mentioned Kathryn Evans, a accomplice and the top of employment regulation at Trethowans Solicitors.
“But even if there is a legal breach, as in the case of these parties, the employee needs to decide whether to refuse and risk damaging their relationship with their boss. If they fear this might happen, they have no choice but to bring legal proceedings, which means being prepared to stand up and be counted – and accept that their relationship with their boss is probably at an end.”
Philip Landau, a accomplice at Landau Law, agreed. “Deferring to their boss’s interpretation of the rules – even though those bosses wrote the rules – is not a plausible and credible defence.
“If your boss puts you in the position where you feel you need to attend a party or lose their favour, there is actually no elegant or subtle way out of it,” he mentioned. “If you feel exposed in this way, you may need to lodge a grievance to protect your position and if this doesn’t resolve matters, bring a case for constructive dismissal. This does mean resigning from your position, however.”
Rustom Tata, a accomplice and chair at regulation agency DMH Stallard, mentioned the “law expects people to be able to stand up for themselves. That’s really tough on employees but the situation here is whether they broke the law or they didn’t. Whether you knew it was the law or why you broke it is irrelevant.”
But, mentioned Tata, one of many basic rules of employment regulation is that everyone must be subjected to an acceptable penalty. This, he identified, is claimed to not have occurred within the case of the lockdown events, the place ladies and Downing Street staffers on low salaries have reportedly been disproportionately hit by fines.
“Given that no police interviews took place and this all rested on questionnaires, if somebody junior is receiving a fixed-penalty notice for being honest about what they did, compared to somebody senior to them who doesn’t get fined, that isn’t fair,” mentioned Tata.
The query then is what the junior worker can do about it. “This is where it becomes very hard,” mentioned Tata. “The junior employee doesn’t know who they’ve got beef with: is it their boss, who didn’t fill the form out honestly, or is it with the police for selective prosecution?”
But Dave Penman, the final secretary of the FDA, the commerce union representing professionals and managers in public service, mentioned junior civil servants could have attended the events by alternative – and senior civil servants could have been fined.
“Clearly this is a unique environment where a relatively junior civil servant could be invited to something by some of the most senior people in the country but let’s not forget, there were civil servants who chose not to attend these parties,” he mentioned.
“We also don’t know who has been fined,” he added. “Junior civil servants might think they’re the only ones but because there’s no obligation to report it if you’ve received a fine, we don’t know who actually has.”