Employment Law Differences across Great Britain

Peninsula Team

February 25 2011

You’d be forgiven for imagining that employment law and practice was the same between England, Scotland and Wales. However, you’d be quite wrong. Admittedly, England and Wales have the most parity, but there are still the odd discrepancies between them. Scotland, however, is quite different from England and Wales.

Bank Holidays
Bank Holidays are somewhat more fluid in Scotland compared to England and Wales because they are usually subject to regional variations. However, certain days can be used as bank holidays in Scotland that are not considered in England or Wales. These are 2nd January and St Andrew’s Day (30th November). On the other hand, Easter Monday is not usually considered a Bank Holiday in Scotland.

Tribunal procedure
Separate provision is made within Tribunal rules of procedure to govern England & Wales and Scotland. Each of the two areas are run by its own President of the Employment Tribunals who can make directions in relation to their own area, therefore practice between the two systems will differ.

Some differences are as minor as a variation in terminology: ‘document bundles’, as referred to in England and Wales – the pack of evidence and documentation that each party uses to support their case – are called ‘productions’ in Scotland. ‘Costs’ are applied for in England and Wales whereas in Scotland, a party would make an ‘expenses’ application for the same reasons.

The treatment of witnesses who are called to give evidence is different in Scotland. Witnesses remain in the waiting room and do not enter the tribunal room until they are called to evidence. This is not the case in England and Wales, where witnesses can sit through the entire hearing whether it is their turn to give evidence or not. This is because witness statements are not generally used in Scotland – evidence is given orally only. In England and Wales, witnesses prepare a written statement of their evidence in advance of the hearing which can be read out during the hearing. These statements are prepared and are exchanged between the parties before the hearing, so statements of the claimant’s witnesses are sent to the respondent and vice versa.

In relation to appeals, cases are referred from the Employment Appeal Tribunal to the Court of Session in Scotland, whereas in England and Wales they would be referred to the Court of Appeal.

Social Care Regulation
The regulation of social care in Scotland, which our clients who run care homes, for example, will be aware, is carried out by the Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care (SCRC): the Care Quality Commission operates only in England. The Care Council for Wales undertakes an equivalent operation in Wales.

Trade Unions
The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) is in operation in Scotland, a completely separate and autonomous organisation from the TUC in England. The Wales TUC is an integral part of the TUC in England and was set up to ensure the role of the TUC is effectively undertaken in Wales.

Agricultural workers
Relevant agricultural workers in Scotland are governed by the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board and terms and conditions etc must comply with the Agricultural Wages (Scotland) Order. Agricultural workers’ rights in England and Wales are governed separately, as set out in the Agricultural Wages Order, published yearly by the Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales.

Read Part 2 of our series in the next issue of the Bottom Line Express.

For more information on the topics raised in this editorial, or employment law advice please contact our Advice Line on 0844 892 2772

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