Picking up where we left off last month, football has once again made employment law news - this time with the long expected exit of Van Gaal from Manchester United. Unfair dismissal, with is statutory cap on compensation, won't be an issue vexing either Louis Van Gaal - who reportedly earnt about £6.4m per year - or Man U, but if it was, would a Tribunal have accepted that winning the FA Cup demonstrated performance poor enough to justify a dismissal?? "Sackings" such as these are virtually always resolved behind the scenes and the contractual terms agreed on appointment will be key to ensuring a smooth exit. The statement made by Man U praising Van Gaal's "great professionalism and dignity" may very well have been the result of negotiations on Monday - the League Manager Association's lawyer was seen arriving at Man U's grounds within 45 minutes of the manager himself.
Also in the news this week were two people refusing to comply with a dress code. The first was Julia Roberts seen walking barefoot into a film premiere at the Canne Film Festival - a move reported as being in response to some attendees being turned away from the red carpet last year when not wearing heels. The second was a temporary secretary sent home for refusing to wear heels while working on reception in a large financial services company. Nicola Thorp was reportedly sent home by the outsourced reception firm that employed her (not the financial services company) on her first day after turning up in flat shoes and subsequently petitioned parliament with the hope of the issue of women wearing high heels being debated by MP's. Employers can set dress codes for staff, and these can include different uniforms for men and women without amounting to sex discrimination if applied even handedly. The difficulty with a requirement for high heels however is that arguably they are commonly connected to more sexualised images of women that are not appropriate in the workplace.
Britain is well known as an animal loving nation, and pets really are part of many families. Or at least that is what more and more employers are reportedly thinking with the news that workers are now being given paid time off to look after their pets as well as other family members. While employees do not expect "paw-ternity leave" the responsibility of pet ownership does result in absences from work - with one survey suggesting that over 40% of pet owners have pulled a sickie to care for a pet. So is paid time off to look after pets the way forward - or should that fall in line behind unpaid time off for other family emergencies???
And finally, the French Employment Tribunal has seen a novel argument brought by a worker who has claimed his health was damaged because his job was so boring. Frederic Desnard is reportedly seeking around £280,000 in compensation from his ex employer. He alleges that 4 years of not being given enough work to do damaged his health. It remains to be seen how far he gets with the claim, however given a Court ordered him to pay his former employer £1,000 in damages for defamation in December 2015 his prospects may not be good.