Dominic Cummings and Employee Confidentiality

Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings – the Brexit bromance has exploded spectacularly all over the papers. The thing that stands out to an employment lawyer about this week’s very public spat, is just how much data Cummings has retained in his possession relating to his former employment.


Cummings’ blog says  “I have made the offer to hand odom 150x150 Dominic Cummings and Employee Confidentialityver some private text messages, even though I am under no legal obligation to do so….





We would really love to have a look at that man’s contract of employment. Most employees, especially senior executives, have extensive clauses in their contracts of employment or service agreements that govern what they are allowed to do with confidential information both during and after the termination of their employment. The nannies in C-list celebrity families are bound up in more restrictions about what they can say than Dominic Cummings appears to be.

From an employment law perspective, the whole thing is astonishing. obligations in a contract of employment usually last in perpetuity and employers take them very seriously. Problems around them often arise in relation to restrictions on working with clients and competitors in a subsequent role, or sometimes due to whistleblowing.

These issues are complex and worth seeking proper legal advice on. We regularly assist employees who are struggling with these problems at Fox Whitfield.

If you think we can help, please contact Sarah Russell on 07985 106 233.

COVID-19 Redundancies

Sadly many people will be made redundant in the coming weeks and months. This is an interesting article by the Telegraph about how to negotiate the best deal

We would add to this that the following are crucial:

1. Settlement agreements often contain a clause that says that your offer won’t be valid if you have received or are expecting an alternative offer of employment or a self-employed work. It is a good idea to get the agreement negotiated and signed off asap (even if the termination date is well into the future) so that you can safely commence your job search.

2. Many of our clients have restrictive covenants in their contracts of employment – clauses that will prevent you from working elsewhere in your industry. Clients sometimes assume that these are unenforceable or won’t be enforced and we often advise where this assumption has proven false. It is very important that you understand these restrictions and that they are removed or reduced via the settlement agreement.

3. Only speak to your immediate family about what is going on. Many settlement agreements contain retrospective confidentiality clauses that become a problem if people have spoken to friends or colleagues about problems at work.

4. Trust your gut. If you feel there is something not quite right about how you are being dealt with by your employer, you are probably right. Start taking notes of the conversations you have with them and seek legal advice at an early stage.

5. Instruct a good solicitor. You don’t have to come to us with a completed agreement. We can advise you on negotiation strategy behind the scenes, or conduct the negotiation for you. It’s what we do for a living, so we’re experienced at maximising the amount on offer whilst preserving your reputation.


The Court of Appeal has rejected Unison’s challenge of Employment Tribunal and EAT fees.

Since the introduction of Tribunal and EAT fees on 29 July 2013 there has been a steady decline in the number of claims issued.

In July 2013 the trade union Unison sought judicial review and a quashing of the Employment Tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal Fees Order 2013. It argued that the fees regime breached the EU principles of equivalence and effectiveness, had been implemented without due regard to the Government’s public sector equality duty, and gave rise to indirect discrimination.

The High Court first heard the claim in the autumn of 2013, and handed down judgment in February 2014. The High Court was unconvinced by the evidence before it regarding the impact of the Fees Order and preferred to ‘wait and see’ and allow any problems to be addressed by the Lord Chancellor.

Following the rejection of the first claim and statistics supporting a dramatic fall in Employment Tribunal claims Unison brought a second claim, which was heard in October 2014. However, in a judgment handed down in December 2014 the High Court held that the statistics were not enough to show that any individual had been prevented from bringing a claim by the level of fees. It also held that any indirect discrimination in the Fees Order was justified by reference to the Lord Chancellor’s stated aims of transferring a proportion (one third) of the running costs of Employment Tribunals and the EAT to service users who could afford it; improving efficiency by deterring unmeritorious claims and encouraging alternative methods of dispute resolution. Unison appealed both High Court decisions to the Court of Appeal.

Today the Court of Appeal handed down its judgment. The Court acknowledged that it has been a longstanding principle of EU law that, “persons who claim that their rights under EU law have been breached must have access to an effective remedy for that breach otherwise the rights in question would be illusory” but the Court rejected Unison’s argument that this principle had been breached by the Fees Order. Whilst accepting that evidence in respect of notional, rather than actual, Claimants could be relevant it was held that the provision in the remission regime allowing for “exceptional circumstances” meant that it could not be said that the fee system in general was so unaffordable so as to mean that there was no effective remedy under EU law.

The Court also dismissed arguments based on indirect discrimination agreeing with the conclusion that any potential discrimination could be objectively justified. It was also not accepted that the public sector equality duty had not been complied with and found that the Equality Impact Assessment undertaken by the Lord Chancellor had identified the possibility that the Fees Order would have a greater impact on people with a protected characteristic but concluded that this would be cancelled out by the availability of remission.

Unison have said that they will seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. The Government also continues with its review of the fees regime. However, for the time being, it looks like Tribunal fees are here to stay.

Fox Whitfield can provide advice and assistance on all types of Employment Tribunal matters (whether bringing / defending a claim) as well as exploring alternative methods of resolving employment disputes.

If you require further advice or assistance you can contact me (Dionne Dury) on 01173305980 or email me at

CCTV Employment Law: Using CCTV to Monitor Employees

CCTV Employment Law

Employment lawyer Paul Whitfield answers questions on CCTV Employment Law.

As an Employer can I use CCTV to Monitor my Employees?

Q: I want to put CCTV cameras in the office to watch staff. Do I need to tell them?

A: CCTV is covered by the Data Protection Act and as a result you need to tell your employees unless there are “exceptional circumstances”. This means only where there are grounds for suspecting criminal activity or equivalently serious misconduct. It should be targeted and stopped once that investigation is completed.

cctv employment law CCTV Employment Law: Using CCTV to Monitor Employees

Q: I just want to use it to make sure people are working hard.

A: Then you would need to give the employees clear notification that you were going to do and why. You should consider if the adverse impact would justify the benefits.  The Information Commissioner has produced guidance (Deciding whether to use CCTV or continue using CCTV) at You should refer to that or take legal advice.

Q: Can I use a video recording of an employee walking and carrying shopping when they are off sick with a bad back to dismiss them?

A: In a recent case employers did this and the dismissal was held to be unfair. The Tribunal did not say that the video evidence could not be used but said it was not enough on its own to justify a dismissal. A lay persons interpretation of the film was not enough evidence to dismiss the employee. A proper investigation and fair hearing would still be required but the video could be part of that.


For more details on CCTV Employment Law Paul can be contacted on 0161 283 1276 or

Fox Whitfield is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority  – Roll Number 524972

Fox Whitfield’s Head Office is based in Manchester with offices throughout the UK to help and advice on CCTV Employment Law.

Rights to Wear a Cross at Work: Christian Employees

Do Christian employees have the rights to wear a cross at work?

In this article we look at recent employment law cases and whether Christians have the rights to wear a cross at work.

rights to wear a cross at work Rights to Wear a Cross at Work: Christian Employees

On 15 January 2013 the European Courts came to a decision on the well known case of the British Airways‘ employee, Mrs Eweida, who was stopped form wearing a visible cross at work.

The Court decided that Mrs Eweida’s insistence on wearing the cross visibly was a manifestation of her religious belief and was therefore protected. The refusal of British Airways to allow her to wear a visible cross at work was an interference with her right to practice her religious beliefs and therefore rights to wear a cross at work.

The Court then had to decide if the refusal to allow her to wear a visible cross could be justified by BA.  On one side of the scales was Mrs Eweida’s right to manifest her religious belief; on the other side was BAs’ right to project a certain corporate image. They took into account that there was no evidence that the wearing of items such as turbans and hijabs, by other employees, had any negative impact on BA’s image.

The Court decided that BA’s desire to protect its corporate image was not sufficiently important to displace her right to practice her religion through wearing a visible cross. She won her case and was awarded her 2,000 Euro in compensation.

At the same time the Court also heard another case. Ms Chaplin was a geriatrics nurse at an NHS hospital. Following a uniform change, a cross she had worn for some time became visible and she was prohibited from wearing it by management for clinical safety reasons. She persisted in wearing the cross and was moved to non-nursing, administrative duties.

Ms Chaplin lost her case as the Court found that the employers clinical safety reasons were enough to justify the restriction on her wearing a visible cross.

The Court also threw out two other cases.  Ms Ladele, a marriage registrar with Islington Borough Council refused to officiate at civil partnerships due to her faith. Mr McFarlane, a counsellor with Relate who refused to provide psycho sexual counselling to homosexual couples on the basis of his religious beliefs. They were both dismissed because of the organisations’ commitment to providing services in a non discriminatory way. The aim of protecting the rights of others not to be discriminated against has been upheld as a valid justification for not accommodating an employee’s religious views, even where the effect on the employee is that of losing their job.

What does this actually mean? The lesson for employers is to just try to be reasonable and as long as you can explain why a particular policy is necessary, you’re probably fine. You should try to accommodate religious beliefs in the workplace if that is reasonable.

rights to wear a cross at work lady Rights to Wear a Cross at Work: Christian Employees


Paul can be contacted on 0161 2831276 or

Employment Law Solicitors – Head Office based in Manchester with offices located throughout the United Kingdom.