Michael’s practice covers virtually all aspects of employment law, both individual and collective, and trade union internal matters. For many years he has been listed in employment law in the leading directories, including Chambers & Partners, the Legal 500 and Legal Experts. He is a fee-paid Employment Tribunal Judge.
Michael has over 60 reported cases in the sphere of labour law, across almost all subject areas. He has particular expertise in EU labour law and human rights and employment law. His areas of practice include the following:
Michael acted for the successful claimants in Stringer v. HM Revenue and Customs in the ECJ and the House of Lords, establishing that sick workers are entitled to annual leave under the Working Time Regulations and to bring claims for holiday pay as a claim for unlawful deduction from wages. Subsequently, he was instructed in the leading authority on interpretation of WTR to comply with the Working Time Directive, NHS Leeds v Larner, CA. He acted for 1000s of pilots in the Supreme Court and ECJ in British Airways v. Williams. Since then he has been involved in claims for tens of thousands of workers about the level of their holiday pay, some of which are now going to the EAT (e.g. Neal v Freightliner). He appeared in European Court of Justice and Court of Appeal in Lock v. British Gas, on whether commission payments must be included in payment for annual leave. He recently acted for in the leading cases of Bear Scotland v Fulton (whether overtime counts towards annual leave), Dudley v Willets(voluntary overtime) and Brazel v Harper (CA), on term-time workers and annual leave.
Michael is frequently instructed by unions in injunction applications (see e.g. Balfour Beatty v. Unite; Metroline Travel v. Unite). Cases in which he successfully resisted injunctions on behalf of unions include British Airways v BALPA in the Court of Appeal and ISS v Mediclean in the Hight Court. He has also acted in cases in which the whole workforce has been dismissed for taking strike action, including Davies v. Friction Dynamics in which hundreds of dismissed workers succeeded before the ET, and Balfour Kilpatrick v. Acheson. He was instructed by the RMT in RMT v. United Kingdom, in which the European Court of Human Rights held that the ban on secondary action did not infringe Article 11.
Michael has acted in several large public sector equal pay claims, including part-time pensions test cases, both in the employment tribunal and on appeal (see e.g. DEFRA v. Robertson, Abendshine v Sunderland CC, Allen v Unison). He acted in one of the first “bonus” cases against a local authority (Paterson v Islington), was instructed in the equal pay litigation against all Welsh local authorities for bonus payments (which settled), and acted for 1500 claimants in the prison service who were awarded £4 million in compensation. He represented Mrs Grundy in her successful claim against British Airways, a leading authority on establishing and justifying indirect discrimination in pay (Grundy v. British Airways). He appeared in the leading authority on the demarcation line between equal pay and sex discrimination claims: Hosso v. European Credit, CA.
Unusually for an employment practitioner, Michael is frequently instructed on judicial review applications brought by public sector workers, including the police. He acted for the EHRC as intervener in the challenge to the introduction of tribunal fees which succeeded in the Supreme Court (R (Unison) v. Lord Chancellor). He has represented police officers in judicial review applications in the context of police discipline and pensions (e.g. Salter v. Chief Constable of Dorset; R (Chief Constable of Avon) v. Police Appeals Tribunal; Clinch v. Dorset Police Authority; R (Stunt) v. Mallett). He represented the NHS Trust in Gibb v. Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, CA, on whether termination payments were unlawful. His judicial review work also includes matters such as collective decisions in the public sector (e.g. he recently acted for the PCS in relation to whether benefits under the Civil Service Pension Scheme were payable to fixed-term employees).
Michael has a particular expertise in relation to trade union law. As well as often advising unions on internal matters, he has acted in High Court challenges based on the rule book, in complaints to the Certification Officer and in hearings before the Central Arbitration Committee.
Michael acted for the EHRC in Chandhok v Tirkey, holding that discrimination owing to caste was potentially race discrimination; he acted in the important case on reasonable adjustments and disability discrimination, Griffiths v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions; and he represented Jessica Starmer, a BA pilot who succeeded in her complaint that a requirement to work full-time amounted to indirect sex discrimination, in the highly-publicised case of British Airways v. Starmer. He appeared in Ahsan v. The Labour Party, in which the House of Lords resolved that complaints of race discrimination against political parties cannot be brought before the employment tribunal under s.12 of the Race Relations Act 1976.
Pensions and TUPE
Michael acted for Ms Beckmann who succeeded in her claim before the ECJ that early retirement pension, payable in the event of redundancy, transferred under the Acquired Rights Directive and hence TUPE (Beckmann v. Dynamco Whicheloe, ECJ). Since then he has successfully represented many claimants in High Court claims based on the Beckmann decision. He also regularly advises on pension issues and public sector TUPE points. He acted for the successful claimants in the ECJ in Allen v. Amalgamated Construction.
Human rights and employment
Michael often advises on the implication of the European Convention of Human Rights in relation to employment law. He was instructed in RMT v. United Kingdom (on the right to strike) and Unite v. United Kingdom (on abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board). He provided submissions for Liberty in a recent blacklisting case pending before the Court, Smith v UK. He acted for ASLEF, who succeeded before the European Court of Human Rights in challenging domestic legislation which prevented unions expelling trade union members (ASLEF v. United Kingdom), and which led to the government amending s.174 of TULRCA 1992. He appeared in an early case on freedom of protest, Steel v UK. He has written widely on human rights at work, especially on the right to privacy.
Michael was involved in the process of drafting the Information Commissioner’s Employment Practices Data Protection Code, giving guidance on the application of the Data Protection Act 1998 to employment. He is the author of Surveillance and Privacy at Work (Institute for Employment Rights).
Michael acts in just about all areas of employment, especially in the context of appeal cases, or claims brought by the whole workforce. Recent appellate cases include Allen v. TRW (contractual redundancy payments), Dutton v. Jones (calculation of redundancy pay when on short-time working), Singh v. Bristol Sikh Temple (whether Sikh priest was a worker). Other work includes settling infringement proceedings before the ECJ, drafting an application to the ILO, and advising on appeals concerned with the Agency Worker Regulations and on contractual issues relating to medical professionals.
Michael’s publications include:
- ‘The Fissured Worker: Persona Service Companies and Employment Rights’ (2019) 49 ILJ 35
- ‘Employment Tribunal Fees and the Rule of Law: R(UNISON) in the Supreme Court 47 (2018) ILJ 1
- ‘Criminalisation of Health and Safety at Work’ in Bogg et al, Criminality at Work (OUP: 2020)
- ‘Legislating for Conflict: The Trade Union Act 2016’ (2016) 45 ILJ 277
- ‘Two Conceptions of Worker Privacy’ (2002) 31 Industrial Law Journal 135
- ‘Re-thinking the Notice Rule’ (1998) 27 Industrial Law Journal 220
- ‘Privacy and Surveillance at Work’ (IER: 1998)
- ‘Citizenship and Democracy in Industrial Relations’ (1992) 55 Modern Law Review 241
Michael is a member of the Institute of Employment Rights, of the Industrial Law Society and of the Employment Lawyers’ Association, and has given lectures and talks for all of these organisations as well as to many others.