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Deductions from wages: Tribunal must find facts before declining jurisdiction

This report relates to 1 case(s)

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    Gill v Ford Motor Company Ltd and others; Wong and others v BAE Systems Operations Ltd [2004] All ER (D) 131 (Jul) EAT (0 other reports)

Key points

In Gill v Ford Motor Company Ltd; Singh & ors v Ford Motor Company & ors; Wong & ors v BAE Systems Operations Ltd, the EAT holds:

  • When faced with claims for unlawful deductions from wages under s.13 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 ("the ERA"), where the employer claims to have made deductions because of an earlier overpayment or because of the employee's participation in industrial action, the tribunal must first find whether there has actually been an overpayment of wages under s.14(1)(a) or whether the employee has actually taken part in a strike or industrial action under s.14(5), before declining jurisdiction to hear the claims.
  • Making such findings of fact does not involve making findings as to the lawfulness or otherwise of the deductions: there is a distinction to be drawn between making findings of fact as to jurisdiction under s.14 of the ERA and making findings as to the lawfulness of the deduction, the latter of which would exceed the tribunal's jurisdiction.
  • Where the jurisdictional question is a pure question of law, the tribunal is likely to be able to reach a decision on the basis of submissions only. Where, however, the jurisdictional question is factual and contested, the tribunal will have to hear evidence in order to make the necessary finding of fact, before declining jurisdiction. The tribunal in the instant case erred in failing to do so.