The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has confirmed that an employee of a British company, an Australian citizen working remotely in Australia for personal reasons, had the right to bring unfair dismissal and whistleblowing claims against her former employer in a UK employment tribunal.
In recent years a number of cases have considered whether individuals working abroad for British companies are entitled to protection from unfair dismissal under UK employment law, or whether they are subject to the laws of the country in which they work. Each case is fact-specific but the House of Lords has previously confirmed that expatriate employees who have been posted abroad by their UK employer for the purposes of businesses carried on in Great Britain may be entitled to sue for unfair dismissal.
In this case, Mrs Lodge, Head of Finance for a British company, was not posted abroad; she elected to move back to Australia to be closer to her sick mother and her employer allowed her to work remotely from Australia for some years. However, the EAT concluded that although she was working as a “virtual employee” in Australia rather than a “physical employee” in London, the work she was carrying out was for the benefit of her employer’s operation in London. As such she was a kind of expatriate employee and was entitled to pursue her English employment tribunal claims.
Clare Nicolaou Employment lawyer, Novalex Solicitors