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Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance

Work-life balance

Work-life balance to what extent should employees be required to have work related technology on their personal mobile?

Alsnih v Al Quds Al-Arabi Publishing & Advertising – Employee unfairly dismissed for refusing to use a work app on her personal mobile.

The Claimant, who worked as an Online News Editor for a newspaper, was required to use an app called ‘Viber’ to track what articles had been submitted for publication. The aim of using this app was to ensure that article topics were not being duplicated.

The Claimant had objected to the Viber app being installed on her personal mobile phone. When the Claimant requested a work mobile phone on which the app could be installed in order to avoid disturbance whilst the Claimant was not working, the request was refused. Instead, the Claimant was advised that she could, at her own cost, buy a separate mobile phone to use the app. The newspaper subsequently dismissed her.

The Claimant claimed unfair dismissal, unlawful deductions from wages and unpaid holiday.

The outcome

The Employment Tribunal held that contrary to the newspaper’s (Respondent’s) belief, the Claimant was an ‘employee’ rather than a ‘freelancer’ and had been unfairly dismissed. Dismissing the Claimant on the basis of her conduct, namely the refusal to download the Viber app on her personal mobile, was unfair. A reasonable employer would have provided alternative solutions to ensure the Claimant was able to separate her home and work life, such as providing her with a work mobile.

The Respondent had also failed to follow a fair procedure. It did not carry out an investigation, disciplinary hearings or warn the employee that her behaviour could result in a dismissal.

Key takeaways

Since the ‘great work from home’ experiment, the line between work and home has naturally become more blurred. Since home working has become more common place, there has been an increased tendency for employees to feel as though they have to be available and contactable outside of their contracted working hours. Ensuring employees have access to technology that allows them to separate work and their personal life will assist in aiding a work life balance. If employees express any concerns with failing to achieve a ‘work-life balance’, employers should consider and implement ways to resolve the issue. For example, separating work from home as much as possible by providing a work mobile phone, ensure employees have accessible office space, encourage breaks and ensure employees are using their holiday allowance. Keeping in contact with employees that work remotely to ensure that they feel supported can be another way of ensuring that there is a work-life balance and employees do not feel overwhelmed.

This case also serves as a reminder to employers of the importance of following a proper disciplinary procedure. The Respondent’s belief that the Claimant was a freelancer rather than an employee meant that they did not follow a proper procedure and failed to comply with the Acas Code of Practice. This meant that they had incurred an uplift to compensation of 25%.

In order to minimise the risk of falling foul of employment law, it is imperative for employers to ensure that they understand the legal status of a worker and also to have legally compliant policies that are adhered to.

How can we help?

If you have any enquiries, please contact Annalie King, Head of our Employment Team or Rosie Brighty Employment Paralegal at Kerseys Solicitors in Ipswich 01473 213311 or Kerseys Solicitors in Colchester 01206 584584 or email [email protected].

Kerseys Solicitors are just a click away visit our website and click “Call Me Back” and a member of our employment team will be happy to contact you at a time that is convenient to you.

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