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UK employment rights for workers working overseas

24 November 2014

In Creditsights Ltd –v- Dhunna the Employment Tribunal, and then the Court of Appeal, had to decide whether on the following facts an employee was protected from unfair dismissal and had the right to be accompanied by a companion to a disciplinary hearing.

(a) The employee was a salesman employed by a UK subsidiary company of a New York corporation.
(b) He was initially based in London and had clients based in the UK and Europe, Middle East and Africa.
(c) The American parent opened an office in Dubai to which the employee moved in 2009 transferring his European clients to a colleague in London.
(d) Having discussed the possibility of moving him to Singapore, in the event he was dismissed.

The tribunal found that the employee did not have sufficiently strong links with Great Britain and British employment law to be protected from unfair dismissal. He had moved from the UK and severed his links with it even though he was on the UK subsidiary company’s payroll and for convenience receiving administrative support from that UK company.On appeal the Court of Appeal agreed. It was not necessary to compare the relative merits of the domestic and foreign legal systems. The general rule is that an employee who is working or based abroad at the time of the dismissal will not be protected by UK employment legislation, but exceptionally he may be if there are sufficiently strong connections with Great Britain and British employment law.

David Ludlow