16 April 2020
Work/life – 6 of 11 Insights
Employers are generally liable for acts of their workers, even if they are criminal and outside their authority. Here, we report cases where the buck did not stop with the employer.
In these times of increased data risk related to homeworking and medical testing due to the coronavirus, employers will welcome the limits set by the UK courts. But we should remember that regulators have reinforced the need to observe GDPR despite the challenges of homeworking.
Morrisons was recently found not to be liable for a former internal auditor's data leak which affected 100,000 employees. The employee published payroll data online and sent copies to newspapers while posing as a concerned member of the public.
The UK Supreme Court ruled that he acted on "an irrational grudge", and overturned the previous decision which held that Morrisons were liable for the leak. The decision leaves the affected employees with no compensation.
The UK Supreme Court has ruled that Barclays is not liable for assaults on more than 100 employees and future employees carried out by a doctor during medicals required by the bank. The doctor was found to be an independent contractor engaged by the bank, so Barclays could not be found vicariously liable for his actions.
German non-profit Arbeiterwohlfahrt (AWO) has tightened its rules of conduct after senior staff in Frankfurt were found to be receiving earnings of well over EUR 150,000 and driving EUR 80,000 Mercedes as company cars. The social welfare association, which has 230,000 employees, has seen its reputation damaged and its non-profit status threatened since this discovery in January.
Spain's universal basic income (UBI) scheme – rolled out to support families during the COVID-19 pandemic – looks set to continue after the current crisis is over. The rate of pay has not yet been agreed, but Spain's Minister for Economic Affairs, Nadia Calviño, has said that her government wants to make UBI "a structural instrument, a permanent instrument". After Finland's UBI scheme was discontinued, the implementation of this plan would make Spain a poster child for supporters of UBI across Europe.
JP Morgan is introducing mandatory diversity training as part of its effort to diversify its workforce and customer base. This move comes as part of a wider programme which includes expanding the recruiting team dedicated to hiring people of color, and reassessing how customers qualify for perks after considering the level of discretion employees had in granting them.
"We've identified a number of areas that, with enhanced, scaled or new programming or processes, would serve to improve our culture in important ways," acting executives Gordon Smith and Daniel Pinto wrote to staff.
John Parker, author of the 2017 Parker Review into ethnic and cultural diversity at UK board level, has said that there is still much work to be done on ethnic minority representation after slow progress in recent years. The Parker Review recommended a target that all FTSE 100 boards have at least one director from an ethnic minority background by 2021.
An updated report, from February 2020, found that 37% of the 83 FTSE 100 companies surveyed did not have any ethnic minority representation in their boardrooms.
by multiple authors