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Employment

Vicarious Liability. It’s the time of year again for the obligatory employment law article warning about the dangers of the office Christmas party!  We lawyers must have been very good this year as a present has landed right on our doorstep, in the form of the High Court (England & Wales) decision of Bellman V Northampton Recruitment Ltd.  

The emphasis on work experience in recruitment, especially in relation to graduates, has increased hugely in recent years. In 2015, the Independent reported that 58% of employers now rate work experience as more important than grades or a student’s personality when hiring graduates.

According to the BBC in 2013, 61% of graduates end up working for the company or firm that they have interned with. This is likely to be in part because employers will, unsurprisingly, find it much easier to judge whether an individual is a suitable fit for their business after having them work for a few weeks rather than trying to come to a verdict in a 30 minute job interview.

Pay Gap Reporting

Background and Compliance

It is anticipated the Equality Act (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2016 will be approved this month, meaning they will come into effect in April 2017.  As previously identified in our blog, the 2016 Regulations will only apply to employers who have 250 or more ‘relevant employees’.

A London Employment Tribunal on Friday issued a judgement which could have wide-reaching implications for the so-called “gig economy”, whereby individuals and businesses engage on a short term, flexible basis. It has been argued that this model involves exploitation.  

The Tribunal ruled that two drivers who provided services to Uber were “workers” for the purposes of UK employment law and not self-employed with significant implications for their rights and protections. 

There are a number of issues and risks that employers of women who are pregnant, on maternity leave, or returning to work following maternity or share parental leave need to be aware of.

In last week’s blog we discussed issues of potential sex discrimination when offering enhanced Shared Parental Leave terms to expectant mothers but not to fathers. Another important issue that employers should think about are the particular responsibilities they have towards women who are breastfeeding. Although there is no free-standing right to time off for breast feeding, breastfeeding mothers have a number of legal protections.

The Glasgow Employment Tribunal has this month made a finding of indirect sex discrimination and awarded almost £30,000 to a male employee after his employers refused to pay him the same as his wife during their shared parental leave.

The ‘Shared Parental Leave’ scheme allows employees who are parents to share leave in the first year of their child’s life, or in the first year after a child is placed with them for adoption. Shared parental leave is in addition to rights to maternity, adoption and paternity leave.

The UK government is pressing ahead with its plans to introduce an apprenticeship levy on businesses from April 2017. This follows an announcement in the 2015 summer budget and autumn statement, after the quality of employer training was deemed too low.  

The levy rate will be 0.5% of an employers pay bill, although businesses will receive an annual allowance of £15,000 to offset against any liability.  The following worked example demonstrates how the levy will work.

Increasing numbers of individuals are working in the ‘gig economy’ engaging with business to provide their services on an ad hoc basis. There is an attraction for people seeking to take control of their own careers through choosing their own working hours coupled with the eagerness of business to avoid the perceived burdens associated with a traditional employment relationships.

The tensions and contradictions inherent in the gig economy have recently been driving litigation as well as headlines and have prompted people like the boss of a takeaway delivery service, William Shu, to opine that UK employment law needs updating and that “there are laws drawn up years ago that may be less relevant for today’s economy”.

Chambers UK 2018

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