Hong Kong company liable for unfair dismissal and discrimination in the UK

A recent case identified a Hong Kong company as liable for acts of discrimination and unfair dismissal of an employee that they had seconded to a third party in London for an indefinite period. The usual legal test applied to such situations involves consideration of two factors: whether the employer carried on business in England and Wales and whether the carrying out of that business is part of its ordinary business.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal adopted a very wide view of the usual legal tests applied in this case because the employer had no place of business in England, nor was the secondment of an employee part of its ordinary business. They focused on the presence of the employee in the UK and the lengthy duration of the secondment.

The decision lowers the threshold for UK-based employees seeking to enforce employment rights in the UK when their employer is in fact a Company not based in the UK.