Unauthorised deductions claim crashes

Posted: 14th November 2012

planeTwo airline employees have failed to convince the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) that they were entitled to additional food and accommodation allowances to take account of the heavy costs of living in London. The tribunal ruled that such allowances had been rolled up in the employees’ basic pay for reasons of tax efficiency and that they were not entitled to additional payments.

Arguing that they had endured financial hardship due to the higher cost of Living in London, the cabin crew members, who had had been seconded to work in London by Australian airline, Qantas, had made claims for alleged unauthorised deductions from their wages under the Employment Rights Act 1996.

However, in upholding an appeal by Qantas Cabin Crew (UK) Limited, the EAT ruled that, on a proper construction of the employment contracts, notional sums for what had been termed ‘living away from home allowance’, including accommodation and food, had been included in the employees’ wages. The terms of the contracts had not been misrepresented to the employees who had expressly agreed to them with their eyes open, the EAT observed.

The employees’ claims for enhanced relocation payments were also rejected as a matter of construction of their contracts and the EAT went on to rule that, in any event, the claim made by one of the employees had been brought out of time.