2017 Changes in Employment Law

01 August 2017

There have been some important developments in employment law recently which could have an impact on the way future employment claims are dealt with. Here we give a brief summary of each, and explain how it could affect you as an employee.

The Gig Economy

The gig economy has come under increased scrutiny lately as more and more organisations are building their business model around self-employment workers. Now the Work and Pensions Committee has published a report which says the Government must close the loopholes that enable such practices.

It remains to be seen whether these recommendations will be implemented, but if so those working in the gig economy could enjoy greater employment benefits including holiday pay and national minimum wage.

Reasonable Adjustments and Multiple Choice Tests

Some organisations require job applicants to undertake a multiple choice test as part of the recruitment process. However, this may not be suitable for everyone, particularly applicants with disabilities such as Asperger’s Syndrome. This was the subject of a recent case in the Employment Appeal Tribunal, where it was upheld that in such instances, the employer should make reasonable adjustments for the applicant’s disability and allow written answers instead.

A failure to make reasonable adjustments by your employer could amount to indirect disability discrimination, for which you’d be able to pursue a claim.

National Minimum Wage for Sleep-in Shifts

Previously there has been some uncertainty as to whether workers who are allowed to sleep during their shift qualify for National Minimum Wage. The Employment Appeal Tribunal has now provided some clarity on the issue. Essentially if someone is deemed to be ‘working’, he/she should receive National Minimum Wage. It doesn’t matter if you’re allowed to sleep during this time or you have little to do, as you may still be ‘working’ if:

  • Your presence is required, and you’d be in trouble if you were absent
  • You have been given responsibilities
  • You need to provide immediate services should an emergency arise

Each claim will be decided on a case by case basis, but if your work involves sleep-in shifts, you could be entitled to National Minimum Wage.

Greater Whistleblowing Protection

Whistleblowers should not be unfairly treated or dismissed just because they report incidents of wrongdoing that they have witnessed in the workplace. The Court of Appeal has now said that if someone blows the whistle against more than one employer, he/she should be protected in both cases. This happened when a man reported wrongdoing about an NHS Trust in which he worked, and about Health Education England who had posted him there.

Therefore if you’re concerned about whistleblowing against more than one employer, the law in England and Wales should now offer you greater protection.

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