December 21, 2018

Festive Feast Part 1 “Drinks and Nibbles”

glass of gin and tonic with ice and a slice
“tipple trouble”

Christmas unburnt offering.

Food, something most of us associate with Christmas and perhaps don’t associate with Employment law. However it is surprising how much this essential topic turns up in issues relating to employment. In this short, four-course seasonal look at employment law we will have drinks and nibbles, main course, dessert, tea, coffee, drinks and more.

Despite the distraction of Brexit and the government’s pledge in 2014 to reduce red tape for small business there is still a stream of new employment law and regulations. The government has just published a new “Good Work Plan” proposing to improve workers’ rights in the biggest selection of workplace reforms for over 20 years. I think we will save most of that to digest in the New Year and take a slightly more light-hearted look at food, employment and the law. And will you spot my puns that my family love to hate? As usual at this time of year I will try to make a meal of it.


Seen as such by some but this is a serious issue for an increasing number of people. A lot of press coverage recently about customers dying from eating takeaways containing nuts has made the point. On the other side of the counter, back in 2013 a chef made a claim against his employer after he came into contact with peanuts at work. His view was that his allergy is a disability and his employer should have made reasonable adjustments to prevent him coming into contact with the allergen. The tribunal decided that such an allergy could be a disability and so require employers to make appropriate reasonable adjustments to protect its employee. With allergies on the increase it is something for employers and employees to be aware of.


Generally not seen as a controversial product in employment terms. However the famous makers Walkers were faced with a packet of trouble a few years ago. At the time a sales promotion involved money being put into crisp bags during manufacture. The company dismissed a number of employees for being involved in a scam to steal the prizes. Employee relations were heated and other staff felt intimidated about giving evidence so were allowed to give evidence anonymously. After being challenged about the fairness of this the Employment Appeal Tribunal accepted that there were grounds for keeping the witnesses anonymous in this particular case. However, faced with a similar situation, employers should be careful about snap decisions about redacting evidence.

G & T anyone?

In the last few years there has been a resurgence in the old staple gin and tonic. With new flavours and fancy tonics many businesses have found a new market for this very British drink. Gin itself was “invented” in Holland in the 16th century and originally prescribed as a medical treatment for the circulation. Most people know that the basic flavour in tonic is quinine. The origins of its pairing with gin lie with the employees of the East India Company in the 18th century.  Malaria a constant problem in the region at the time was found to be treatable with the bitter substance quinine. To make it more palatable employees added sugar, water, lime and gin and thus the gin and tonic was born.

Most employers won’t want to solve employee health problems in quite the same way but it has given birth to a classic and employment for many. The number of distilleries has more than doubled since 2013 to 315 in 2017, most of the new ones being for gin production and overall in the brewing and distilling industry we are a net exporting country.

Next time – we get to the meat of the matter, or not

Edit 49a1. This newsletter looks at new cases and employment related matters, which are likely to be of interest to many. However specialist advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking action based on comments in this newsletter, which is only intended as a brief note. For more information or if you have specific concerns phone me on 01233 714055 or

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