Human rights law protects an employee’s right to privacy at work and the right to a fair hearing. It also supports a number of other employment rights. Human rights law seeks to find a balance between the competing rights of the employer and the employee.
The right to a fair trial has given rise to cases about the entitlement to ‘a fair and reasonable public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law’. The courts have emphasised that it is a fundamental principle of natural justice that a fair trial includes the absence of excessive or avoidable delay by the employment tribunal.
Until the Human Rights Act introduced the right to a private and family life there was no right to privacy at work. The law is now developing in areas such as surveillance and monitoring in the workplace. This is assisted by the rules and practices in data protection law. However these rights have to be balanced against the employer’s right to a fair trial.
Human Rights claims
The Human Rights Act is only directly applicable against Public Authorities. However, it is still relevant to employees in the private sector. This is because the employment tribunal must read and give effect to relevant legislation such as unfair dismissal law and discrimination law, in a way which is compatible with human rights. So, for example, what might otherwise be upheld as a fair dismissal could become an unfair dismissal if the employer included in its investigation, information which is found to be an unjustified interference with the employee’s private life.
In this way, human rights claims can be part of other claims brought to enforce employment rights. There are also occasions where they may be brought as stand-alone claims and this may lead to a declaration by the court that your employment rights have been infringed and the employee may receive compensation.
Our solicitors can advise your company on all areas relating to human rights in the employment relationship.