Happy New Year to everyone.

In this newsletter we look at forthcoming legislation, case law judgements, sickness, and other elements.

We hope you find this information helpful, if you would like more detail on any aspect please contact us.  Don’t forget to take a look at our website to see the full range of our services.

From basic Contracts of Employment to a fully Outsourced HR service we can help.  If you would like to know more about any of our support, consultancy, and training services, and see how we can help you, please visit our website or contact us at info@connectivebusiness.co.uk to arrange a Free no-obligation consultation.

Legislation Updates / Case Law

1st January 2024: Carry over of leave due to Covid – accrual of leave carried over under emergency covid provisions where it was unreasonable to take, must be taken by 31 March 2024 or it will be lost.

Office Worker who said wearing a mask at work was a ‘breach of the Nuremberg laws’ and linked it to slavery has tribunal claims rejected

After reopening following the pandemic shutdown, the company issued guidance, stating: “Face coverings will be supplied and the general rule will be to wear the mask whilst moving around the office, unless you are exempt for medical reasons” and later provided an update which said a doctor’s note will be required if you are not wearing a face covering “because you are medically exempt”.  Anyone who could not provide a doctor’s note in this time frame was asked to remain working from home until they were able to obtain one.

It was noted that when the claimant was sent a self-assessment form in relation to home working. When answering the question of whether or not he had any special requirements that needed consideration, he replied “no”.

The claimant wrote to the claims relationship manager and senior manager, saying: “I understand that those working in the office are expected to wear a mask when not at the desk … Wearing a mask is a non-pharmaceutical medical intervention. Making someone undergo a needless medical intervention which is not for their benefit is a breach of the Nuremberg Code”, adding “Forcing healthy people to act as if they are sick is Munchausen Syndrome by proxy, which is a crime in certain circumstances.  It certainly constitutes physical and psychological abuse of anyone who is aware that the mask is of no medical benefit and is merely a symbol of submission to this colossal deception”.  Later, the claimant wrote to the executive claims director: “I am fortunately legally exempt under the legislation, so I have never had to suffer the psychological torment of wearing a device I know to be, at best, medically useless, and that it has been mandated for reasons of psychological manipulation. Others are not so lucky”.  The claimant also informed the Company that he felt he could not wear a mask because he had “experienced panic attacks while at university”, claiming that being forced to wear a face mask would cause him panic attacks, as covering his face induced panic attacks for him.

The tribunal heard that the claimant visited his GP about panic attacks in 1990 there was no reference to panic attacks after 1995.  In 2004, the claimant was prescribed a daily dose of dothiepin after reporting “occasional mild anxiety”. However, there was no evidence of any medication continuing after 2013 in relation to panic attacks, and there was no further reference to panic attacks in the claimant’s medical records.

The Employment Judge said “On the facts of the case as presented to me, the claimant has suffered from no such attacks since the latest 1995, has required no medication for such attacks since 2013There is no evidence before me, other than the claimant’s submission, in particular no medical or other expert evidence, to support the claimant’s contention that wearing a face covering would cause a panic attack.”  It was determined that the claimant did not meet the requirements of the Equality Act to be classed as a disabled person, which meant his claim was denied.  The claimant’s letters to his workplace, the judge said, showed that his disdain to wearing a mask was not due to a disability or mental impairment which prevented him from doing so, “but was refusing to do so because he did not consider the medical evidence in support of mask wearing at the time of the Covid 19 pandemic compelling or sufficiently cogent to warrant the requirement of mask wearing in public places”.  As part of his evidence, the claimant provided historical photographs of slaves wearing masks, claiming masks were associated with slavery, perversion and the occult. The judge said: “Their relevance in this case is zero”.  The judge added that his claim that mask wearing was against his philosophical beliefs was “so wide-ranging as to be meaningless”, so his claim of discrimination due to philosophical beliefs was also ruled out.

Key points to take away.

  • Company policy permitted the claimant not to wear a mask if he obtained evidence that he was medically exempt but he made no attempt to do so.
  • Bearman added that the claimant’s “belief” that masks were ineffective was deemed to be a factual scientific matter, not a belief.
  • Even if it had been a belief warranting protection, the tribunal found that the company’s mask-wearing policy was justified. It only required them to be worn when moving around the office and medical exemption was permitted.
  • The judge in this case was not prepared to find that an objection to mask wearing was a protected philosophical belief and it seems likely that other similar claims would fail.
  • It is also difficult to see how a disability discrimination case could succeed where the employer’s policy allows for exemption on medical grounds.”


Operational Managers are key to a Company’s success, and how they work with and manage their teams is an essential part of this.  Failing to provide them with the essential training they require will lead to more issues within the workplace.

We run a number of ‘1 to 1 HR Coaching for Managers’ modules, all of which are delivered remotely via Microsoft Teams:

  • Being an Effective Manager / Responsibilities of a Manager;
  • Dealing with Misconduct (Discipline), Poor Performance (Capability) and Grievances;
  • Managing Attendance / Sickness Absence;
  • Managing Performance / Developing People;
  • Dealing With Conflict;
  • Managing Recruitment;
  • Managing Investigations.

Each module is focussed on the key elements involved, and takes around 1½ hours, with Managers also completing a workbook containing a number of questions and scenarios which is then analysed and feedback provided to ensure an in-depth understanding of the subject(s).

We can also provide classroom based training courses which can be delivered at your premises.

More details on all of the above can be found on our website.

Sickness Figures / Causes

A recent report by the CIPD and Simplyhealth, which examined trends in sickness absence and employee health and wellbeing among 918 organisations representing 6.5 million employees, found that UK employees were absent an average of 7.8 days, the highest level seen in a decade and two whole days more than the pre-pandemic rate of 5.8 days.

The report found the 4 leading causes of minor illnesses to be:

  • cold and flu (94 per cent);
  • musculoskeletal injuries (45 per cent);
  • mental ill health (39 per cent);
  • Covid (37 per cent).

For long-term absence (four weeks or more), the 4 leading causes were:

  • mental ill health (63 per cent);
  • musculoskeletal injuries (51 per cent);
  • acute medical conditions (46 per cent);
  • stress (37 per cent)

Stress is a significant factor for both short-term and long-term absences, with 76 per cent of respondents reporting some stress-related absence in their organisation in the previous year, rising to 92 per cent of organisations with more than 250 employees. Key causes are:

  • heavy workloads (67 per cent);
  • management style (37 per cent);
  • health issues (30 per cent);
  • relationship / family (27 per cent);
  • pressures to meet targets and / or deadlines (25 per cent).

It is also recognised that stress can lead on to mental health issues and also trigger pre-existing muscular weaknesses / conditions.

The HSE have a Management Standards Indictor Tool which is a 35 item questionnaire relating to the six primary stressors identified in the Management Standards approach to tackling Work Related Stress.  More details can be found at https://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/standards/downloads.htm.  If you are looking for a wider staff questionnaire, we can provide a proven method that covers a number of elements:

  • Culture
  • The Organisation
  • The Job
  • Training and Development
  • Line Management
  • Communication

Contact us for more details.

Partner Services

We have long-term partnerships with key providers which enables us to provide other recommended services to our clients covering:

  • Legal Services
  • Financial Services;
  • Health Insurance and Staff Healthcare Benefits;
  • Health and Safety.

Visit our website to see full information on our partners and their services.