Stronachs Logo

Employment

The news in the past week has been dominated by stories about the gender pay gap and the differences in what men and women have been earning for the same roles in a number of organisations. The CEO of Easyjet reportedly agreed to take a pay cut of £34,000 to bring him in line with his female predecessor. The former BBC China editor Carrie Gracie stepped down from her role in early January after discovering that her male counterparts were earning significantly more than her. When she queried this, she was reportedly told that the difference was “because she was in development”. In its report into on-air salaries in the BBC, PWC also discovered a 6.8% gender pay gap amongst staff.

Revelations about the behaviour of  (all male) guest at the Presidents Club charity event held last week at the exclusive Dorchester hotel in London have been met with outrage and condemnation from many quarters and have reinforced calls for a review of the legal regime in relation to s exual harassment. Reports suggest the women hired as “hostesses” were repeatedly groped and invited by diners to join them in hotel bedrooms. One of the staff reported that a guest exposed himself to her. It was also suggested that the women were paid £150 for a six hours shift not including time spent at an after party where one woman was allegedly told to “rip off your knickers and dance on that table”. The fall out has led to beneficiaries of the charity to indicate that donations will be returned and to a decision to immediately wind up the organisation completely.

In the week of “Blue Monday”, reportedly the most depressing day of the year, and with the NHS allegedly “haemorrhaging” nurses due to work related stress, the need for mental health policies in the workplace has come under the spotlight. ACAS describes mental health as our “emotional, psychological, and social well-being, it affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, interact and relate to others, and make choices.” The World Health Organisation defines good mental health as “a state of wellbeing in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

 

2017 was a big year for employment law and HR issues. In July 2017, the Supreme Court held that tribunal fees are unlawful. Since then, the official employment tribunal statistics have shown a 64% increase in claims, and it is likely that this upwards trend will continue in 2018. Several important ET and EAT cases on the so-called gig economy were decided, and the Taylor review was published, making various recommendations to overhaul the law on employment status. Towards the end of 2017, the news was dominated by successive sexual harassment scandals, and many employers are taking the opportunity to overhaul their own policies in this regard. Finally, hanging over all of this is the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit. Although various compromises have now been reached, for example in relation to the settled status of EU nationals who will have been continuously resident in the UK for 5 years on the date of exit, 29 March 2019, politicians have been quick to caveat that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”.

Don’t worry – despite the festive season now being well and truly upon us, this is not another rehashed blog about the perils of the Christmas party! Instead, this week we look at a recent case which has received much publicity because it highlights to employers, who are already well aware that their data protection obligations are changing with the coming into force of European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on 25 May 2018, that courts can and will hold them “vicariously liable” i.e. liable through the actions of another for unauthorised use of personal data by their employees.

On 29 November the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) issued an important and  uncompromising decision in the case of King v The Sash Window Worship  Ltd  which will have significant consequences for business operating in the “Gig Economy” and potentially wider implications for employers generally in relation to payment for annual leave.

Allegations made against Harvey Weinstein and the subsequent #metoo campaign have highlighted the continued prevalence of the problem of sexual harassment in workforces throughout the world. Whilst not the first person to coin the phrase ‘me too’, actor Alyssa Milano said: “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” Within days women – and some men – were posting the hashtag #metoo over social media to open up about the harassment they had faced and who finally felt empowered enough to speak out.

Although most recent news cycles have been dominated by the Brexit negotiations, it has also been an interesting month for anyone following developments in relation to the gig economy. Uber has lost its Employment Appeals Tribunal appeal in relation to worker status of its drivers, whereas in the Central Arbitration Committee, Deliveroo was successful in establishing that their riders were not workers. Most recently, a joint report has been published by the Work and Pensions Committee and the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee of the House of Commons, incorporating a draft Bill to deal with issues raised in the Taylor Review earlier this year.

Chambers Leading Firm 2019

Contact Info

ABERDEEN OFFICE
28 Albyn Place, Aberdeen AB10 1YL
Tel: +44 1224 845845

 

INVERNESS OFFICE
Camas House, Fairways Business Park,
Inverness IV2 6AA
Tel: + 44 1463 713225