News and Events

Mutuality of Obligation

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The EAT has, in a decision handed down yesterday, neatly circumvented the requirement for mutuality of obligation in an employment contract.

The Claimant, a TV reporter for ABC, was employed under a framework agreement whereby ABC was obliged to offer him at least 100 days' work a year, and he was entitled to either accept or refuse the assignment(s).

The employment tribunal held that there was no mutuality of obligation, since the Claimant was not obliged to accept any work.

The EAT, striving to reach a decision which was plainly fair on the facts (read the judgment!), held that there was an implied obligation for the Claimant to decide whether to accept or refuse assignments in good faith. Thus mutuality could be implied into the arrangements, and the Claimant achieved continuity of employment to bring an unfair dismissal claim.

The judgment also contains some interesting (but largely fact-sensitive) comments on the scope of ERA 1996, s100 (automatically unfair dismissals for health & safety reason).

ABC News International v Gizbert