20 Jul 2018

A round-up of developments in UK employment law which HR teams need to know about.

It has not taken long for the issue of employment/worker status in the “gig economy” to come to the attention of the UK’s most senior judges. Several high profile cases have already been considered at various levels of the judicial system (think Uber, Deliveroo and Hermes to name a select few) and others are ongoing.

However, it is Pimlico Plumbers who made it to the UK Supreme Court first, where Gary Smith successfully argued that he was a worker (and not a self-employed plumber). In our lead article this month, Peter Finding considers the business implications of the Pimlico Plumbers v. Smith judgment and the longer-term picture for clarifying the blurred lines between employees, workers and independent contractors.

Outside of this, the summer period is often a good time for senior management and HR practitioners to reflect more broadly about some wider themes within their organisation. It is sometimes difficult to step back from the day-to-day cycle of emails, recruitment activity, performance reviews and managing individual personnel issues. We have a couple of articles this month on the theme of workplace culture, a topic which has generated some particularly interesting discussions at many of our Zebra Project events.

“Culture” is often difficult to define and for some businesses it is not a priority, but as our Managing Partner Ed Turner explains in his article, that approach can come at a cost. And as we have seen the courts grappling with the legal implications of the gig economy, I have given some thought to the importance of culture as businesses evolve to meet the challenges of the future world of work.

Finally, in keeping with our reputation for helping employers operating globally, Peter Finding and Scott Glacken provide some insight on the easiest jurisdictions in which to do business. If you work in an organisation with a regional or global footprint (or if you simply have an interest in employment law issues outside the UK), please do sign up to our international employment law update. The most recent edition (available here) contains updates from no fewer than 53 countries. It comes highly recommended!

For those of you who are off on summer holidays soon, I wish you a restful break.

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