Working Abroad? Is Your Employment Properly Protected?

British workers who take jobs abroad often achieve higher earnings and are exempt from UK taxation. However, as one construction industry worker found out to his cost, such benefits frequently entail the sacrifice of the legal protection afforded by British employment laws.

The commercial manager worked for an English company but carried out most of his work in the Middle East, where he was recruited. Following his resignation, he launched Employment Tribunal (ET) proceedings, claiming unfair dismissal and that he had been persecuted for whistleblowing. The ET, however, ruled that it had no power to consider his complaints on the basis that his employment was more closely connected to the Middle East than to Britain.

In rejecting the man’s challenge to that decision, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) found that the ET had applied the correct legal test when considering the limits of its international jurisdiction. The EAT noted that, when seeking non-resident status for tax purposes, the man had informed HM Revenue and Customs that he only travelled back to the UK for family visits and the occasional meeting. Although that statement was not necessarily decisive, it was a factor which the ET was entitled to take into account.