Employers set to face continued challenges over 2017

In recent times employers have faced constant challenges due to increasing employment law changes and this year looks set to continue the trend.

Earlier this year Maggie Dewhurst, a courier with logistics firm City Sprint, won her appeal to be classed as a worker rather than as a self-employed contractor. This was a headline case that emerged after the similar ruling in the action brought by Uber drivers, which is now on appeal.

In employment law a person’s employment status helps determine their rights and their respective employer’s responsibilities.  A worker may be entitled to paid holiday, sick leave, and the national living wage for example, whereas a self-employed contractor would not. What’s more is that employees are workers, but an employee has extra employment rights and responsibilities that don’t apply to workers who aren’t employees.

“The outcome of Maggie Dewhurst v City Sprint will only apply to Ms Dewhurst, but it does highlight the working practices of the so-called "gig economy", where people are employed by companies on a job-by-job basis” explains Jo Cullen of Howell Jones Solicitors. “The issues here can be applied to many other sectors where companies may be trying to optimise their staffing and therefore it’s important to realise the distinctions between an employee, a worker and a self-employed contractor.”

Since the recent financial crisis Britain has seen a rapid increase in self-employment, prompting prime minister Theresa May to order a review into workers’ rights ensuring they are keeping pace with the changing economy.  This is just the latest in a series of cases surrounding employment law, setting a trend for similar cases throughout 2017.

Alongside, many companies have hit the headlines for poor practices and exploitation in the workplace in recent months. This was highlighted when reports that workers at Sports Direct were receiving less than the national minimum wage and being subjected to humiliating working practices. The new Labour Market Enforcement body will take the lead in mitigating these issues, headed by Prof Sir David Metcalf, a founder of the Low Pay Commission.

This Government crack-down indicates significant employment law changes are anticipated for 2017, bringing further complexity for businesses to ensure they are following correct practices and terms of employment procedures.

Jo Cullen adds “With all these changes set to take place over the coming year, particularly added complexity regarding holiday pay, employers will likely need advice to ensure they get it right.  It’s important to stay on top of the changes, work ahead of the deadlines and make sure you’re considering all sectors of the business.“

This article is intended to provide information of general interest about current and forthcoming legal issues, and is not considered legal advice.  At Howell Jones we can advise you on all aspects of employment law. For more information and guidance please contact Howell Jones solicitors.