Wed 04 Mar 2020

Employment law in the news - March 2020

In our regular slot we look at the key cases and other employment law issues that have made the news headlines over the past few weeks.

The Big News

The focus over the past month has very much been on IR35.  Almost immediately after the UK Government announced the review in January came views that its short time frame meant it could not lead to significant changes with subsequent reports that a coalition of recruiters were asking the then chancellor Sajid Javid to delay implementation to 2021.  HMRC then made a statement confirming that the rules will not apply to contractors who carried out work before 6 April (but who have not been paid by that date), a change attributed to the review.  The resignation of Sajid Javid brought about suggestions that a new Chancellor might delay IR35 but, so far, all is still on track for 6 April. 

As most readers will know, the other big news that that Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of sexual assaults in what has been seen as a victory for the #MeToo movement.  These charges were heard in New York and he faces more charges in LA.

The gig economy is also again being criticised for trapping workers in a precarious existence. Uber and Deliveroo are once again in the firing line, with a report by digital think tank Doteveryone finding that workers need to devote more and more time to the platform in order to remain financially stable.  The primary problems identified for workers are a lack of financial security, a loss of dignity at work and the inability to progress in a career. Uber are due to be back in the Supreme Court later this year having appealed against the 2019 Court of Appeal decision that held that drivers who use their platform were workers and not self employed.

As we move nearer to the 2020 deadline for reporting on the gender pay gap in April - something that is rooted in women being unable to progress their careers to the highest level - yet more evidence has been published of the failure of FTSE companies to meet ethnic diversity targets on boards. Reporting on the ethnicity pay gap is not yet mandatory, but after a push in the first half of 2019 it is likely that this will happen in the relatively near future.  The lack of diversity in boardrooms does not bode well for the results.

The Good News

Stonewall published their Top 100 Employers 2020 featuring organisations that have done great work over the past 12 months to help achieve inclusion for all LGBT people.  The top three are Newcastle City Council, Gentoo Group and Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service. 

Good news for Samira Ahmed, the BBC journalist who recently won an equal pay claim against the BBC. The tribunal claim was for £700,000, and while no statement has been made as to the final agreed figure, a settlement has been reached between the parties and they are both looking forward to continuing to work together. 

And the rest….

Does the suggestion to ask your staff to upload semi-naked photos of themselves to a workplace app to allow you to work out the sizes of new uniforms set alarm bells ringing? Not loudly enough for a leading supermarket in the Netherlands who did exactly that.  It's not clear why having a database of workers in their underwear was thought to be good idea, but suffice to say, after a public outcry the idea was quickly abandoned.

And finally, one of the more controversial topics this month - what is the best breed of dog to take to work?  At the risk of upsetting some people, I'm not so sure the Siberian husky is an ideal workplace companion….


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