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Homeworking: employee who moved north not entitled to London weighting

In McKenzie-Bayliss v The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) an employment tribunal held that a homeworking employee who relocated to North-East England but carried out work for the South-East region was no longer entitled to receive pay at the London rate.

Facts

After 20 years, Mrs McKenzie-Bayliss was seconded from the London team to CPS Direct. It was an express term of the secondment agreement that this would be a home-based role. She worked from her home in Bedford, in South-East England. In 2017, she moved to the North-East for family reasons

The CPS operates two separate pay ranges: a London rate (defined to include certain counties in the South-East region) and a national rate. After she moved to the North-East, the CPS continued to pay Mrs McKenzie-Bayliss the London rate until the 1st of September 2021, when it reduced her salary to the national rate of pay. It claimed that continuing to pay her at the London rate for over four years after her move had been an error. It calculated that it had overpaid a net amount of £16,852.

She claimed that the reduction in her pay from 1st of September 2021 was an unlawful deduction from her wages.

The tribunal accepted the CPS evidence that the purpose of the London rate is to reflect the higher cost of living in London and the adjacent counties. Mrs McKenzie-Bayliss' permanent workplace was her home address, so when she moved to the North-East, her entitlement to pay should have changed from the London rate to the national rate. The reduction in pay from 1st September 2021 was therefore not an unlawful deduction from wages.

How can you avoid the same dispute?

Where an employee wishes to move to a permanent homeworking arrangement, document any consequent changes to terms and conditions before the employee decides to move.

If you change one of the terms included in the written statement of employment particulars, inform the employee in writing within one month of the change.

Act immediately if you accidentally overpay an employee. The longer you leave it, the more it will hurt.

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