Parks Constabulary

December 21st, 2015 by James Goudie KC

A Council’s Parks Constable is in service as a “member of a constabulary maintained by virtue of an enactment” within the meaning of Section 200(2) of the Employment Rights Act 1996. He or she is therefore precluded from bringing a claim for unfair dismissal.  By parity of reasoning, Trade Unions representing Parks Constables are precluded by Section 280 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 from pursuing claims for a declaration and a protective award.  In Wandsworth LBC v Viking, UKEAT/0234/13/LA, the EAT (Slade J) has held that the above holds good notwithstanding Articles 8, 11 and 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

The Claimants were dismissed for redundancy. It was not suggested that their selection for redundancy was for any reason which would affect their reputation, their private or professional relationships.  Redundancy, said Slade J, can be regarded as “perhaps the least blameworthy reason for dismissal”.  None of the authorities supported the proposition that dismissal of itself engages Article 8.  In her judgment the claims did not engage Article 8.  Article 14 was inapplicable because Article 8 was not engaged.  It added nothing in the circumstance where the facts of the case were not within the ambit of Article 8.  There were no Article 8 rights to be safeguarded.

As regards Article 11, the right claimed was a remedy for failing to consult the Trade Union, UNISON, over proposed redundancies. Collective bargaining over employees’ interests falls within Article 11.  Loss of employment through redundancy affects employees’ interests.  Collective bargaining over job losses falls within Article 11. While the means of affording unions their Article 11 rights are left to Member States, Article 11 requires that they be given the means of enforcing those rights.  The UK has chosen consultation as the means of Trade Unions protecting employees’ interests in a redundancy situation.  Unlike representation of other local authority employees, the Claimants had been deprived of that right.  Accordingly, subject to Article 11.2, Article 11, taken together with Article 14, was engaged by the claims for protective awards.

The question therefore was whether the restriction on the exercise of rights by members of the police was lawful. This requires the restriction to be, amongst other things, proportionate.  The EAT was not in a position to rule on proportionality.

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