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Our guide to what the Archers can teach us about UK employment law – yes really!

Here at DWF towers we don’t often find popular culture references to employment law. We’re also not convinced that the Archers counts as “popular” culture, but there is suddenly an awful lot of employment law in the everyday tale of country folk.

countrysideWe suppose it was only a matter of time and after over 17,400 episodes that employment law issues finally came to Ambridge, but the portents were there. First, we heard Clarrie’s departure from the diary raise issues of food safety, breach of confidence plus issues from unfair dismissal case law such as Iceland Frozen Foods v Jones and Sarkar v West London Mental Health Trust. We became interested.

Next, there was the potential TUPE transfer of staff at Grey Gables and a summary of regulation 4 of TUPE and the protections given to transferring staff. We thought there might be an Enterprise Managed Services Limited v Dance issue. We became intrigued.

Johnny Phillips’ refusal to go to college in Leeds (at which our Yorkshire employment lawyers bridled) lead to Tony Archer’s surprisingly accurate description of the rights and responsibilities associated with a modern apprenticeship contract. We became impressed.

Then we hit employment law gold; Elizabeth Pargetter’s affair with employee Roy Tucker came to an end. Elizabeth quickly suggested Roy take a leave of absence, conducted no process and rapidly gave Roy’s job to his temporary replacement.

Roy’s wife, Hayley, who also works for the business run by Elizabeth Pargetter at Lower Loxley, found out about the affair and is inciting Roy to claim! Our mind raced with questions.

Would Roy’s sex discrimination claim flounder on the principle from the case of B v A? Would Hayley’s possibly impending constructive dismissal claim succeed on the basis of Elizabeth, as the boss, having an affair with her husband? Could Elizabeth argue the affair amounted to some other substantial reason for sacking one or even both of them? Was Hayley’s incitement for Roy to claim a breach of her obligations of trust and confidence to Elizabeth? Was the Archers about to make a political comment on the significant drop in Tribunal numbers arising from the implementation of Tribunal fees? Is Birmingham or Shrewsbury Employment Tribunal the nearest one to Ambridge?

But probably the most important question raised by the explosion of employment law in the Archers was; “Does anyone really care”?!

Keep up to date and follow us: @dwf_employment

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Legal news, views, trends and tools for HR Professionals. Stay ahead. Go further