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3 Things We Learnt In Law This Week (11 April 2019)

Employee Found Storing ‘Obscene Material’ On Online Work Account Unfairly Dismissed

A Royal Mail employee who was allegedly found storing “obscene material” on his online work account has been awarded £53,142 for unfair dismissal and £9,360 in costs.

On 10 October 2013, 28 files containing pornographic material were found on the cloud storage provided to employees. The police were informed and Mr Chokski, a Royal Mail employee of 27 years, was arrested, interviewed, charged, and bailed. It was widely known among the workforce this had happened.

Mr P Chokski was dismissed for gross misconduct on 18 March 2014 for both the alleged content and for sharing the password to his account. An internal appeal then ruled the misuse of password alone was justification enough for his dismissal. 

However, after being asked to reconsider the case, the tribunal ruled the internal appeals process wrongly allowed for a harsher penalty to be imposed, and as such the dismissal for password sharing was unfair. 

Employee With Depression Awarded £35,000 After Being Denied Flexible Working

An employee with depression was awarded £35,677 after he was denied flexible hours by his employer. The Employment Tribunal ruled his employer, the Department for Work and Pensions, had failed to comply with its duty to make reasonable adjustments by not taking into account an employee’s changing circumstances when deciding whether to reinstate flexible working.

Mr Hargreaves, who worked as a case manager from February 2016 until his dismissal in November 2017, was initially taken off flexible hours because he was regularly late but asked to be put back on after his depression worsened.

Judge Keevash ruled Hargreaves’ circumstances had “changed considerably” since the initial period of flexible working, as he had been prescribed new medication and started cognitive behavioural therapy treatment.

Railway Worker Was Not Entitled To 20-minute Breaks, Court of Appeal Rules

The Court of Appeal ruled against a railway signal box worker who claimed his inability to take an uninterrupted break at work amounted to a breach of his rights.

Mr Crawford worked as a signal box worker for Network Rail in Surrey and Sussex. The majority of the boxes were manned by a single person, meaning when working alone he was unable to take a single 20-minute uninterrupted break.

Under Working Time Regulations 1998, adult workers are entitled to an uninterrupted rest break of at least 20 minutes after six hours’ work, however individuals working in key services such as transport and utilities are treated as “special cases” where employers need to provide an equivalent period of compensatory rest. 

The EAT had previously found, although Mr Crawford might be able to take shorter breaks on some shifts, he was in effect always on call during daytime shifts in the week, meaning it would not be possible for him to have one continuous 20-minute break. This was overruled by the Court of Appeal, which said there was no reason in principle why a break had to be for an uninterrupted period of 20-minutes.

Samira Cakali

Samira Cakali is a pragmatic and approachable solicitor advocate with extensive contentious and non-contentious experience in the fields of employment law as well as civil litigation, within a range of commercial businesses from SME’s to multinationals as well as senior executives.

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