In Fuller v United Healthcare Inc, Mr Fuller, a US citizen, was employed by a US company and paid in dollars. He was given responsibility for overseeing the UK and Abu Dhabi businesses and spent around half his time in the UK. When the company decided to appoint a local hire to head up the UK business, Mr Fuller had his secondment terminated and later he was made redundant. He raised an unfair dismissal action in the UK, claiming that his dismissal was motivated by his sexuality and whistleblowing.
The UK Employment Appeal Tribunal decided that Mr Fuller fell outside the territorial scope of UK employment law. Despite carrying out work in the UK and other countries, he had not given up his base in the US and his employment contract had an "overwhelmingly close connection" with the US. It was also a factor that his dismissal had taken place in the US after his UK assignment had come to an end. In summary, Mr Fuller did not have the required connection with the UK for him to be protected by UK employment law.
Most cases on the issue of "close connection" have been based on British employees who have been dismissed while on foreign assignment. A recent court decision (Creditsights Ltd v Dhunna) involved an employee of a British company who had moved to work in Dubai. His lawyer argued that the tribunal should not just compare the claimant's connections with the two countries, but should also compare the merits of each country's employment law, i.e. to consider which legal protection would be preferable for the employee. The employee's argument failed!
The upshot of this decision is that if an employee has clearly taken expatriate employment and not retained UK roots (possibly for financial advantage), the fact that his or her preferred foreign location has little by way of employment protection legislation is part of the deal and that there will be little chance of reliance on UK law and procedure if it all turns sour.