Employment Law Speed Read – 06/11/17
6th November, 2017
This week's Speed Read looks at an employment appeal tribunal which considered the extent of statutory protection available due to membership of a trade union.
In Jet2 Limited v Denby the Employment Appeal Tribunal considered the extent of statutory protection available due to membership of a trade union and held that the concept of “membership” must be construed broadly and include activities incidental to membership.
Mr Denby was a pilot who started working for Jet2 Limited (Jet2) in 2005, but left in 2011 to work for Air Emirates.
In 2014, Mr Denby applied for a job with Jet2 again but was rejected because of his past advocacy for BALPA (the pilot’s trade union of which he was a member).
In 2015, Mr Denby reapplied for a job with Jet2 but his application was again unsuccessful.
Mr Denby was not a member of BALPA at the time of his application to be re-employed. However, when Mr Denby realised his application had been unsuccessful for a second time, he asked Jet2 whether this was to do with his previous advocacy for BALPA as this had caused friction with Jet2 during his first period of employment.
When Mr Denby expressed his intention to bring legal proceedings, Jet2 stated that the reason that he was not re-employed was because he had been negative towards their business. They asserted that on receiving his offer to work for Emirates, Mr Denby had spoken about his superior remuneration package to colleagues which was unhelpful to their attempts to retain their pilots.
Unsatisfied with Jet2’s explanation, Mr Denby brought legal proceedings under section 137(1)(a) of Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 arguing that he was refused employment because of his trade union membership.
The Employment Tribunal found that the sole reason for refusing to employ Mr Denby was because of his activities with BALPA, which were related to his trade union membership and therefore unfair. Jet2 appealed because he had not been a member of BALPA at the time his application was rejected.
Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT)
The Employment Appeal Tribunal considered the extent of statutory protection available due to trade union membership and held that the concept of trade union “membership” must be construed broadly and extend to trade union activities that were incidental to membership. As a result, Mr Denby was protected because of his past advocacy for the trade union and it was irrelevant that Mr Denby was no longer a member of BALPA at the time his application was rejected.
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Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.
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