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Continuity of Employment

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[Thanks to Naomi Cunningham of Outer Temple Chambers for preparing this case summary]

Are relations between employer and employee 'governed by a contract of employment' for the purposes of continuity after an offer of employment has been accepted, but before the employee has started work?

Yes, says the EAT in Welton v Deluxe Retail Limited.

Mr Welton worked at a shop in Sheffield. When the shop closed, he was dismissed.  During the following week, he agreed to accept employment at another shop owned by the same employer in Blackpool. He started work the week after that, and was dismissed a few months later.

Langstaff P held that once the offer of new employment had been accepted, relations between the parties were governed by a contract of employment: it was not necessary for work actually to have started under the contract. That gave Mr Welton sufficient continuous employment to bring his claim.

The President also held (obiter) that Mr Welton had in any event been absent on account of a temporary cessation of work. Mr Welton's final argument -  that continuity was preserved during his absence under section 212(3)(c) by an arrangement arrived at after the start of the new employment - failed. Such an arrangement could not be made retrospectively.

The judgment is worth reading in full for its first-principles analysis of the contractual position - especially for anyone who missed the President's ELA Annual Lecture last week.