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At HRC Law, we like to be clear. We try our best not to use ‘legalese’ and to define acronyms or terms whenever we use them.

But some terminology is so all-over-the-place it’s difficult to avoid. On this page, we explain some terms commonly used by others and ourselves.

We’ll keep adding to this glossary, but if you spot us using a legal or technical term that you’d like us to explain, please do email and we’ll add it to the collection below.

AG/Advocate General (EU Law): Each case before the ECJ (defined below) is assigned an Advocate General (AG). The AG (together with the judge(s)) reviews the documents submitted in the case, listens to the case put forward by each side’s lawyers and can question them. Where the ECJ has decided that an Opinion from the AG is necessary, the AG issues this some weeks after the hearing. AG’s Opinions are important. The legal position advocated by him/her in the Opinion is usually followed by the ECJ (although the Court isn’t bound to follow it).

AWR: The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 apply to agency workers assigned to do temporary work for hirers through temporary work agencies (TWAs).

Direct discrimination (under the Equality Act 2010): occurs where person (A) discriminates against another (B) if, because of a protected characteristic, A treats B less favourably.

EAT: Shorthand for the Employment Appeal Tribunal. The EAT handles appeals against decisions made by a ET where a legal mistake may have been made in the case.

ECJ/European Court of Justice (EU Law): The ECJ (Court of Justice of the European Union) is the highest Court in the EU in matters of EU law. It interprets EU Law and ensures that member countries and EU institutions abide by EU law. It is based in Luxembourg. Most of the references on our website to the ECJ will concern it acting in its capacity as interpreter of EU Law. Where a national court is in doubt about the interpretation or validity of an EU Law, it can ask the ECJ for clarification via a Preliminary Ruling.

ET: Shorthand for Employment Tribunal. ETs are public bodies which have statutory jurisdiction in England and Wales to hear many kinds of disputes between employers and employees. Appeal from an ET is to the EAT (which is defined above).

Further assurance clause in a sale agreement: a clause which obliges the seller to take any action necessary to give effect to the sale agreement.  This clause is usually negotiated in order to agree and determine exactly how much assistance the seller must provide and for how long – so the exact wording of the clause will vary from deal to deal.

GLA: The Gangmasters Licensing Authority. Those providing workers for agriculture, horticulture, shellfish gathering, forestry or food processing and packaging will need a GLA licence. The GLA is about to become the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA).

Harassment (under the Equality Act 2010): a person (A) harasses another (B) if A engages in unwanted conduct related to a protected characteristic which has the purpose or effect of either: violating B’s dignity, or creating an intimidating or offensive environment for B. There are other legal meanings of harassment in different contexts too.

HMRC: Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Merging the former ‘Inland Revenue’ and ‘Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise’, HMRC is responsible for collecting taxes and enforcing NMW legislation, amongst other things.

Indirect discrimination (under the Equality Act 2010): occurs where person (A) discriminates against another (B) if A applies to B (PCP)(defined below) which is discriminatory in relation to a relevant protected characteristic of B.

NMW: The National Minimum Wage is the minimum pay per hour to which almost all workers are entitled by law. The rate depends on a worker’s age and whether they’re an apprentice.

OACs: Overarching contracts of employment.

PBA: Pay between Assignments. A type of agreement designed to fit within an exemption in (Regulation 10 of) the AWR (also known as the ‘Swedish Derogation’).

PCP (under the Equality Act 2010): a provision, criterion or practice. See indirect discrimination.

Protected characteristics (under the Equality Act 2010) are: age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; sexual orientation. The relevant protected characteristics depend on the specific legislative provision.

SPC: Shorthand for Service Provision Changes, TUPE (defined below) may apply where there has been a SPC. This includes when: a contractor takes over activities from a client (outsourcing); a new contractor takes over activities from another contractor (re-tendering); and a client takes over activities from a contractor (in-sourcing, or taking back in-house).

T&S: Travel and Subsistence schemes.   Schemes designed to save tax and national insurance contributions (NICs) where workers are travelling to a temporary work place and other given requirements are met. Umbrella companies often employ temporary workers on OACs in connection with T&S schemes.

TUPE: An acronym for the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 as amended. TUPE protects employees’ rights when the organisation or service that they work for transfers to a new employer. It can apply in two scenarios: (i) business transfers and (ii) service provision changes. TUPE issues can be complicated and we’d suggest that you seek legal advice if you are faced with them.

TWA: Temporary Work Agency. An employment business which supplies workers to hirers for temporary work (in contrast to an ‘employment agency’).

Umbrella Company: A company that acts as an employer to agency contractors, typically paying them through PAYE, sometimes using a T&S scheme, once the employment business has paid it.

Zero hours contract: A contract where there’s no certainty that work or services will be made available to the worker. Employees on zero hours contracts work when needed.