Expatriate Can Bring an Employment Tribunal Claim in UK

03 October 2016

If you work abroad for a UK company, can you still make a claim in an Employment Tribunal in England and Wales? Unfortunately, the answer is not clear. 

Generally speaking, UK law states that a contract of employment is governed by the law of the country in which you normally carry out your duties, regardless of whether the contract states where that is to be or not.

A recent decision has added further clarity on whether someone working abroad may make a claim in an Employment Tribunal in England and Wales.

In a recent case, an employee worked for a charitable public corporation established by a Royal Charter as a Teaching Centre Manager based in Bangladesh. The employee had been working in Bangladesh (with two short exceptions) for 4 years and wished to bring claims under the Employment Rights Act 1996 and Equality Act 2010 in a Tribunal based in England and Wales.

The Employment Tribunal found they were unable to hear the Claimant’s claims due to being, in their opinion, the wrong legal system. The Tribunal thought the Claimant ought to have submitted his claims under the legal system of Bangladesh because the links with the UK did not justify departing from the general position that a contract is governed by the law of the country in which he worked.

The Claimant took his case to the Employment Appeal Tribunal which agreed with him that he should be entitled to have his claims heard in an Employment Tribunal based in England and Wales.

The Claimant was able to show many factors which persuaded the Employment Appeal Tribunal to find in his favour. The main factors were that the Claimant was paid in pounds sterling, he was a member of the Civil Service Pension Scheme and he was also required to sign the Official Secrets Act 1989.

The contract wording is not generally enough to dictate where Employment claims should be made, but in this case the Employment Appeal Tribunal found the Claimant was able to show a very close connection to British Employment Law, more so than under legal system in Bangladesh.  

This is an important case which has added guidance on the ability of a person working overseas to bring a claim under British Employment law. However it must be remembered that each case is dependent on its facts.

At Co-op Legal Services our Employment Law Solicitors fully understand that seeking to enforce your Employment rights is a stressful time for you and it can be particularly worrying if you are not sure where to submit your claim. Time limitations apply to make a claim, so the quicker you get expert legal advice the better.

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