Criminal claims continue to soar

Two key issues continue to dominate the employment market: the spike in claims to tribunals and the prospect of better safeguards for those working in the gig economy. Both put employers under increasing pressure to ensure fair working practices and to protect themselves in case they get it wrong.

Ministry of Justice statistics continue to show this upward trend in employment claims. Figures for April-June, released in September, showed single tribunal claims jump 165% compared to the same quarter in 2017, while the previous quarter’s figures jumped 120%, and the quarter before that by some 90%. The notion that fees would not impact on legitimate applications has clearly been dispelled.

Whether enthusiasm for extending workers’ rights extends to gig economy workers remains to be seen. It could be tempered by the likelihood that further costly ventures into tribunals will inevitably accrue. There are currently several Private Members Bills concerned with ensuring fairness to workers in this expanding sector. By creating additional legal rights for individuals who work as independent contractors, there is the potential to deliver higher volumes of claims to tribunal doors in the future. One such bill is the Workers (Definitions and Rights) Bill that seeks to amend the definition of ‘worker’.

For its part the Government is considering responses to four consultations that ran over the summer in response to the Matthew Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices. Areas covered by the consultations include employment status, increasing transparency in the labour market, agency workers and enforcement of employment rights.

It is entirely possible that the noise around potential enhancements to employment rights may yet prove to be no more than good intentions.

There could also be a drip-feed of minor improvements – but nothing is imminent. With the consultations now closed, the appetite to move things forward may diminish under a weightier political climate but with such uncertainty, employers must safeguard their interests.

Disclaimer - all information in this article was correct at time of publishing.