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Gill & Ors v Ford Motor Company Ltd : Wong & Ors v BAE Systems Operations Ltd


Employment Appeal Tribunal

The appellant employee (G) appealed against an employment tribunal's decision that it did not have jurisdiction to hear G's claim that his employer (F) had made unauthorised deductions from his wages. After unofficial industrial action brought production to a halt, F stopped G's pay. G denied taking part in the industrial action and argued that he had not refused to work but that he had not been able to work once the assembly line had come to a halt. The tribunal held that, although it would have had jurisdiction to hear G's claim under the Employment Rights Act 1996 s.13, that jurisdiction was disapplied in the circumstances of the instant case by s.14(5)of the Act. The tribunal declined to hear evidence as to whether G had taken part in the industrial action, and considered that the lawfulness of the deduction could only be resolved in the civil courts. G contended that the correct construction of s.14(5) of the Act required the tribunal to decide, as a question of fact, whether G had taken part in any industrial action.

HELD: allowing the appeal, that, for the purposes of s.14(5), whether an employee who had suffered a deduction had actually taken part in industrial action was crucial to the determination of jurisdiction. It was not sufficient for industrial action to have simply taken place, or that the employer considered that the employee who had suffered a deduction from his wages had taken part in the industrial action. For a tribunal to have declined jurisdiction without having made findings of fact would, in effect, have allowed a respondent to choose, by the way it responded to a claim, whether the employment tribunal or the county court had jurisdiction.

[2004] IRLR 840

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