Is the gig up?

Well I can’t say I’m surprised….. and this is something that I have been warning my clients about for sometime!

On the 13th June, the Supreme Court handed down a landmark ruling. It determined that a ‘self employed’ plumber, ‘gigging’ full-time for 13 years, as an independent contractor for a London firm (who was then sacked when he had a heart attack), was indeed a “worker” under the 1996 Employment Rights Act (ERA), and the 1998 Working Time Regulations (WTR), and therefore, entitled to bring certain employment law claims against the company.

In this landmark decision, their Supreme Justice’s essentially told the London firm that it couldn’t have its cake and eat it, by cherry picking the best bits of ‘employed’ and ‘self-employed’ status to its own advantage.

This case is the first time the UK’s highest court has been required to consider employment rights in the context of the so-called ‘gig economy’. In November 2017, the EAT found that two drivers engaged by taxi-hailing platform Uber should be classed as “workers”, and entitled to paid rest breaks, holidays and the National Minimum Wage. Uber has appealed to the Court of Appeal, which will hear the case later this year. Either way, this recent judgement is highly significant. And coupled with the government’s current position following on from the Taylor Review into modernise working practices, now might be a very prudent time for small business owners to take a step back and strategically review your own worker contracts and employment practices and pre-empt costly litigation or legislative change. Being on the front foot is most certainly always better than being caught on the back foot!

Are you 100% confident that your employment practices would stand the test in the British courts right now?

Being savvy about it, a strategic review of working practices can also be a great PR exercise – internal and external. It shows you are progressive and forward thinking; and that you care about getting things right. It also means you can demonstrate ‘clear water’ from your competitors in attitude and approach to employment rights and can help position you as an employer of choice – a tremendous USP in our current competitive recruitment market.

Don’t fall into the trap of sitting and waiting for definite and legislative change – the boat will already have sailed by then and you may already have found yourself dragged into costly court proceedings or at the very least, fighting bad press and bad blood in the office.

So I boldly suggest that you steal a march and get ahead of this. Call or email me today and let’s schedule some time to review your employment contracts/worker status or people strategy. An initial call cost’s nothing to me – but those employment law cases sure will!