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The territorial scope of English employment rights

Naomi Oppenheim considers how the broad approach currently adopted by employment tribunals means employees abroad can argue their way into the UK’s jurisdiction

9 November 2012

The government has recently committed £13m of funding to UK Trade & Investment to support British companies in their global trading efforts. While vibrant international trade brings with it exciting business opportunities, it also gives rise to increasing employment-related challenges. With business travel and more complicated employment arrangements ever on the rise, the territorial scope of employment rights has become harder to define.

The two main pieces of employment legislation exhibit a pronounced (and unhelpful) lack of clarity as to the territorial scope of their application.

The Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA 1996) used to exclude employees who ordinarily worked outside the UK from bringing claims under ERA 1996. However, the relevant provisions were then repealed by the Employment Relations Act 1999, without any replacement wording being introduced, rendering ERA 1996 silen...

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