Case law: Employer can interfere with employee’s legal right to a private life, provided it is proportionate to do so
Employers should note that they are entitled to take an employee’s private life into account when the employee is undergoing disciplinary proceedings, provided it is proportionate to do so.
This update was published in Legal Alert - March 2020
Legal Alert is a monthly checklist from Atom Content Marketing highlighting new and pending laws, regulations, codes of practice and rulings that could have an impact on your business.
An employee in the Probation Service was placed on the child protection register twice by social services because it considered her a risk to her daughter. Social services also advised her she should tell her employer, because her job included safeguarding children. She did so the first time this happened, but not the second. Her employer claimed her conduct was unprofessional and damaging to its reputation, which ultimately resulted in her dismissal for gross misconduct.
She claimed unfair dismissal. One of her arguments was that her employer had breached her right to a private life under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) by taking into account her relationship with her child.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) ruled that her dismissal was fair. It found that, although her right to a private life under the ECHR was relevant in the circumstances, her employer was entitled to infringe that right in order to safeguard its reputation, function and relationships.
- Employers should note that they can be entitled to take an employee’s private life into account when the employee is undergoing disciplinary proceedings, provided it is proportionate to do so.
Case ref: Q v Secretary of State for Justice  UKEAT 0120_19_1001
Disclaimer: This article from Atom Content Marketing is for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.
Copyright © Atom Content Marketing