Nathan Combes

nathan.combes@legalstudio.co.uk

EMPLOYMENT LAW & DATA PROTECTION SPECIALIST

I qualified as a lawyer in 2002 after graduating from Sheffield University. I specialise in employment law and data protection and act for a wide range of businesses, organisations and individuals from across Yorkshire and beyond. I am a member of the Employment Lawyer's Association and I'm also a ILM accredited trainer (more on this later).

I am often asked to advise in relation to employment related disputes and grievances and act for both employers and individuals. My advice covers handling  diciplinary and grievance related matters, negotiating settlement agreements and dealing with Employment Tribunal cases involving allegations of discrimination, whistleblowing, breach of contract and unfair dismissal. My approach is pragamatic and outcome driven and I work closely with my clients in order to obtain the best possible outcome for them.  

I also assist employers to handle their day-to day HR related issues and can offer a fixed fee annual retainer service which provides 24/7 HR and employment related support, advice and guidance. Other key areas of work include drafting contracts of employment, executive service agreements and company handbooks and I am also regularly asked to advise businesses and organisations on TUPE related issues including various employment related issues that will often arise on the acquisition or sale of a business and/or in outsourcing scenarios where employees are transferring between one employer and another.  

The data protection work that I do is varied and wide-ranging. I have a particular interest in privacy notices, subject access requests and data breaches and I have also assisted numerous businesses and organisations to develop their own internal data protection policies and procedures in order to ensure that they are fully compliant with data protection law and minimise the risk of potentially costly fines.  

Alongside the legal advice that I provide, I am also regularly asked by employers and organisations to deliver in-house employment, HR and/or data protection related training to their staff. I'm a strong believer that when it comes to dealing with compliance and legal issues that prevention is always better than the cure and that effective training can significantly reudce the risk of claims. The training that I provide is designed to be fun and inter-active, with lots of practical real-life examples and case studies, all of which are aimedat ensuring that delegates are able to put the knowledge and insights that they gain to immediate practical use.  

Prior to joining Legal Studio I worked for several of Yorkshire's leading law firms as a Senior Associate and Partner/Head of Employment Law. I enjoy the flexibility that working for Legal Studio provides and it is refreshing to be working in an environment where the client genuinely comes first.  

Specialist Areas of Interest

Employment

Nathan's Latest Blogs

Our employment law specialist Nathan Combes has produced a FREE temporary homeworking policy which has been put together with current events very much in mind.

Standard homeworking policies do not really cover off issues such as working from home and childcare (given the closure of schools) and self-isolation/social and social distancing etc.

If you would like to receive a copy then please contact Nathan by email at
nathan.combes@legalstudio.co.uk
2020 10 26
Nathan Combes
Employer update | Homeworking & COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

We’re all currently living in uncertain and unprecedented times. In light of the government’s present focus on social distancing as a means of slowing down the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and protecting vulnerable groups, it’s likely that employers will increasingly need to utilise home working, wherever possible, in order to mitigate  the impact that these strategies will have upon their businesses and operations. Our latest blog examines some of the key homeworking related questions and issues.

Can we insist that one or more of our employees works from home?
 
In the absence of an established right to compel individuals to work from home, it’s likely that an employer’s decision to insist on a period of home working would amount to a variation of the employee’s contract of employment and that the relevant employee or employees would need to consent to this change.
 
For some employers, this may be the first time that homeworking has been introduced. Bear in mind that the health and safety implications of individuals working from home will need to be considered. The HSE has published some useful guidance on this issue which can be accessed here.

Are there any particular types of employees that we should allow to work from home?
 
Yes, the government’s latest advice (published on 16 March 2020) states that individuals falling into certain categories are "strongly advised" to work from home wherever possible. The relevant guidance can be accessed here.
 
Note that the governments guidance also states that all other workers are "advised" to work from home or vary their daily commute and use less public transport, whenever and wherever this is possible.

Can employers refuse to allow an employee to work from home if that individual will also be looking after children during working hours?

Ordinarily it would not be appropriate for an employee to care for others whilst working from home. However, as we all know these are far from ordinary times and as the COVID-19 outbreak gathers pace and the impact upon society as a whole increases, it’s likely that employers are going to need to relax and temporarily disapply the standard rules and expectations insofar as they relate to individuals needing to work from home.

If (as is increasingly being speculated) schools and nurseries are shortly ordered to close, then an outright ban or prohibition on employees looking after children whilst working from home will simply not be workable.

It may however be the case that certain employees with younger children or children with additional needs (requiring a greater degree of attention and care) may not be able to work whilst providing that care. Employers should be alert however to the possibility that employees in these circumstances may be able to share the burden of childcare with another parent or adult in order to work flexibly or on a part-time basis.
 
Be alert to the fact that employees who suddenly find themselves unable to work because of school and/or nursery closures may choose to assert their right to time off to care for a dependant Time off in these circumstances is usually unpaid (unless their contract of employment says otherwise).
 
Are there any particular concerns involving data protection and home working?
 
It would be sensible for employers to consider whether large scale working from home means that updated training and/or information should be given to employees regarding data protection and confidentiality. Employees need to know what is, and is not, in terms of the use of data.
 
Employers should also consider whether a data privacy impact assessment examining the data protection implications of working from home should be carried out.
 
Issues that might be considered as part of the employer’s assessment could include:
  • Who will have access to the employee's computer and personal data stored on it?
  • Whether any specific security measures or rules should be in place to ensure that members of the household do not have access to personal data held on the computer.
  • If personal data is being created and/or stored at home is it properly secured?
  • Is encryption and password protection in place?
  • How will information be moved between the employee’s home and the office?
  • Is the employee’s home internet connection password protected and secure?
  • Do new rules concerning the retention of documents, proper disposal (e.g. shredding) need to be created and observed?
  • Will regular reminders be sent to employee’s reminding them about their obligations to safeguard personal data?
Please contact us if you’d like more information about the issues raised in this article and/or or to find out more about the various legal services that we provide.
 
Disclaimer: the information set out above does not constitute legal advice and it is provided for general information purposes only. No warranty, whether express or implied is given and neither the author or Legal Studio Solicitors shall be liable for any technical, editorial, typographical or other errors or omissions within the information provided.

 
2020 30 18
Nathan Combes
New ICO guidance published on the time limits for responding to data subject access requests (DSARs).

The ICO’s revised guidance confirms that where a data controller asks the individual making the subject access request for additional information in order to enable them to deal with the request effectively the one-month time period for compliance will no longer be paused until after the controller receives the requested information. The amended guidance also confirms that the extended timescale for responding to complex or multiple DSARs will similarly also no longer be paused.

These changes mean that the new timescale for responding to subject access requests will run from the date that the DSAR is received or, if later, the date on which proof of an individual’s identification has been received. This constitutes an important change from the previous position which stated that the time period for compliance would be paused until the controller was in receipt of any additional information that had been sought from the individual.

The ICO’s revised Right of Access guidance confirms that where additional information is requested from the data subject by the controller, to enable it to properly respond to a subject access request, then:

“…..this does not affect the timescale for responding – you must still respond to their request within one month. You may be able to extend the time limit by two months if the request is complex or the individual has made a number of requests”.

Controllers will likely be concerned that any delay on the data subject’s part in providing any additional information that has reasonably been requested will have an adverse impact upon their ability to provide all of the necessary data within the required timescale. For this reason, the use of subject access request forms may become more common as controllers take steps to try and limit the impact of the ICO’s changes by encouraging data subjects to provide relevant information at the same time that the subject access request is submitted.

Please contact us if you’d like more information about the issues raised in this article and/or or to find out more about the various legal services that we provide.
 
 
2020 23 28
Nathan Combes