Employment roundup: Employment Status, Tribunal Fees and GDPR
It’s been a busy few months in the world of employment law. In this section we look at the plethora of ‘employment status’ cases working their way through the courts and tribunals and we provide an update following the Supreme Court’s decision on Employment Tribunal fees.
1.Employment status: the more things change, the more they stay the same
The long-awaited Taylor Report of Modern Working Practices was finally published in late July and is an authoritative review of the current landscape of ‘employment status’. It made some novel suggestions like replacing ‘worker’ status with that of ‘dependent contractor’ but some commentators were disappointed that it did not call for a more fundamental overhaul of the current system. Indeed, the initial excitement following its release has been replaced by a degree of scepticism over whether its recommendations will be implemented, given the lack of consensus as to what should change and the current government’s lack of a parliamentary majority.
Meanwhile, the courts and tribunals have been very busy with ‘employment status’ cases. Citysprint, Addison Lee and Deliveroo have all lost landmark ‘employment status’ disputes at Employment Tribunal level. Pimlico Plumbers, having lost in the Court of Appeal, is due to have its case heard by the Supreme Court on 20 and 21 February 2018.
Uber’s appeal against the Employment Tribunal’s ruling that their drivers are ‘workers’ (not self-employed contractors) was heard by the Employment Appeal Tribunal in late September. Uber’s argument centred on saying that their business model was nothing new or novel. They said that local minicab companies had been operating in much the same way for decades. They said that all Uber does is connect self-employed drivers with riders and the fact that they do this on a grander scale than a typical minicab company is irrelevant.The judgment is expected on 10 November 2017 (check our twitter page for updates!).
In our September employment bulletin, we reported that the Supreme Court had ruled that individuals no longer need to pay fees to issue Employment Tribunal claims.
The government has since announced the first stage of its scheme to refund fees paid by claimants. In a written answer to a parliamentary question in October, the government estimated the cost of the refunds (including interest at 0.5%) at £33m.
We have not yet seen any official statistics showing whether there has been an increase in the number of claims since the Supreme Court’s ruling. There is, however, strong anecdotal evidence that the number of claims – particularly in respect of unauthorised deductions from wages – is increasing. Official statistics for the period June-September 2017 should be published before the end of the year.
General Data Protection Regulation
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) will bring substantial changes to the rules around personal data and its use. The GDPR will impose new obligations on data controllers and processors that all organisations will have to get to grips with before the GDPR enters into force on 25 May 2018. To ensure effective compliance by that date, organisations will need an understanding of the requirements of the GDPR to be well equipped to plan, implement and maintain a compliance programme. In some instances, there will also be a requirement for an organisation to appoint a suitably qualified and trained data protection officer who reports to the highest management level.
The government has recently published draft legislation implementing the GDPR, which comes into force on 25 May 2018. The draft legislation contains no big surprises but it means we will be ‘Brexit-proof’ as far as data protection goes, so that we will be considered a safe haven for data following our withdrawal from the EU.
The firm has set up a cross-departmental GDPR Working Group which meets regularly to consider the impact the new regime will have on our clients’ businesses and on M&A transactions more generally. We also help clients assess the impact of the GDPR on their businesses and to structure and implement pragmatic systems to achieve compliance. If you would like advice on the impact that the GDPR may have on your business, please let us know.