New rulings in ongoing ‘gig economy’ court battles

Further developments this month have advanced the case for those working in the ‘gig economy’ who have been seeking to be recognised as workers rather than purely self-employed. In mid-June, the High Court ruled to allow a full judicial review to proceed of a Central Arbitration Committee ruling from November 2017 that denied Deliveroo drivers the right to representation by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB). Later in the month, an employment tribunal ruled in favour of a group of 65 Hermes couriers, represented by the GMB union, who had been demanding a recognition of worker status and the accompanying rights to the national living wage, holiday pay and sick pay. Perhaps most consequentially, on 13th June the Supreme Court handed down the final ruling in the Pimlico Plumbers case, deciding that a plumber who had worked for Pimlico Plumbers for six years was indeed a worker rather than purely self-employed and was thereby entitled to workers’ rights. A similar case relating to Uber drivers is still awaiting appeal before the Supreme Court.


Increased high street pressure on jobs

June marked another month of high street troubles with potential impact on the UK labour market. House of Fraser announced the closure of over half of it’s 59 shops, with 6,000 jobs affected, in early June, while Poundworld has fallen into administration putting a further 5,000 jobs at risk, with ‘closing down sales’ starting over the coming days. Meanwhile workers at four Waitrose Stores were saved from redundancy earlier this week by a last minute purchase by the Co-op, after owner John Lewis issued a ‘zero’ profit warning. These latest closures follow the loss of all Toys R US and Maplin stores earlier this year following the collapse of the chains, while Carpetright, Prezzo, Mothercare have all announced recent plans to close between a quarter and a third of all sites.


Employee wellbeing still a ‘work in progress’ for most UK HR departments

A study by Cascade has highlighted the high priority that needs to be given to tackling wellbeing at work by HR departments across the UK. The survey, which found that 4 out of 5 UK workers considered stress to be ‘a way of life’ also found that only 13% of HR or business managers felt that their organisation had put in place an affective wellbeing strategy for their workforce. In contrast, two thirds of managers admitted that employee wellbeing was only a ‘work in progress.’ There was also a definite lack of awareness about the costs that poor wellbeing could have in terms of absenteeism and retention of staff – only 57% of business owners and HR managers were aware of the costs of absence within their own organisation. While the study also suggests employees are increasingly willing to speak up about stress and other mental health issues at work, there clearly needs to be a lot more work by HR managers to make sure their workplaces are healthy and supportive working environments in this area.