US Citizen who worked 49% of his time in UK not protected by UK employment law
In Fuller v United Healthcare Services the EAT held that a US citizen who worked 49% of the time in the UK could not raise unfair dismissal or discrimination claims in the UK.
- The claimant was a US citizen from Texas
- Under the conditions of his employment, he was required to spend approximately 49% of his time in the UK
- Bonus entitlement, paid time off and holidays were provided in line with US law
- His salary was expressed in US dollars
- He paid tax in the USA
- He had a 2 year lease of a flat in London
- The company paid for 2 trips to the UK each year by the claimant’s partner
- The dismissal was carried out in the US
- The claimant’s assignment to the UK had finished prior to his employment being terminated.
Prior to Fuller, it was held in Ravat v Halliburton Manufacturing and Services Ltd (following Lawson v Serco) that employees can bring unfair dismissal claims in the UK where the connection between their employment and Great Britain (and with British employment law) is “sufficiently strong”. The Equality Act 2010 is silent on the territorial scope of discrimination claims, but the EHRC Employment Statutory Code of Practice states employees should be protected from discrimination “when there is a sufficiently close link between the employment relationship and Great Britain”.
In Fuller, the EAT held that on the facts of this case, the claimant hadn’t given up his “base” in the USA and moved to the UK. Having considered the factors listed above, the EAT concluded that his employment relationship was “overwhelmingly American in nature”. The connection between his work and the UK was not sufficiently strong to give him protection under UK employment law. Therefore he was not entitled to claim unfair dismissal or discrimination.
The EAT rejected the idea that there was a different test for discrimination and unfair dismissal claims. The judge noted that it had been open to Parliament to extend the reach of the Equality Act 2010 to any claimant who could demonstrate that they worked partly in the UK. However, it had not done this, suggesting that courts should interpret the territorial scope of the Equality Act in the same way as they do for unfair dismissal claims.
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