Overall 2018 can be described as a year of great upheaval in the UK, politically & socially & also in terms of HR Employment Law. Although it may not seem it, the workplace changed dramatically in the space of 12 months. Some of the changes from the gender pay gap reports & other numerous cases of harassment & abuse of non-disclosure agreements, to a seemingly endless-stream of gig-economy & other cases.
Please see just a few lessons we’ve learned from 2018, & also how they might impact the UK workplace moving forward in 2019 & beyond.
1. The Gig Economy & Workers’ Rights
Overall, 2018 was riddled with cases on workers’ rights. Big names like Deliveroo, Uber, Addison Lee, Pimlico Plumbers, & Hermes are just a few that have all been on the receiving end of large & costly claims. These situations were brought into the spotlight by the Taylor Review during July 2017, which considered some of the implications of the new forms of work on worker rights & responsibilities.
Meanwhile, while the specifics of each case has differed, the general theme is the same in the fact that individuals working in the Gig Economy are asking for more rights.
Overall, most of the cases have ruled in favour of the worker & towards the end of 2018, this position was solidified largely by the introduction of the Good Work Plan.
The Good Work Plan has been viewed as the ‘largest overhaul to employment rights for years’ by the UK government & is unlikely to be implemented until at least 2020 at the earliest. Still, the overall impact will likely be felt for years to come, with changes such as an increase in the maximum fine for a breach of worker rights & an inability to deduct money from workers tips.
2. The Gender Pay Gap
During 2018 we also received the first concrete evidence from the businesses themselves, that women still face financial inequality in the workplace.
In April 2018, all organisations with 250 or more employees were required to submit a gender pay gap report. The results concluded that older women faced greater inequality, while skilled trade occupations had the highest pay gap above all other occupations.
The reports have already made an impact. More than 57% of organisations have now conducted further analysis of their gender pay gap & in the region of 9% are looking to carry out an equal pay audit & other actions.
These gender pay gap reports have also opened the door to other types of pay reporting, including ethnicity pay gaps the executive pay gaps which are all new for 2019.
While there is still some way to go until the issue of equality is a distant memory (current predictions estimate women will receive the same pay as men within 202 years), the gender pay gap reports serve as a strong first step and will hopefully inspire further progress in the coming years.
3. The National Minimum Wage
During 2018 a large percentage of UK businesses were publicly named & shamed for not paying the national minimum wage (NMW) to all or even of their UK employees. While this is not unheard of, the vast scale of the naming & shaming was on a level never seen before in the UK.
Additionally, 2018 also highlighted the need & in the most severe way possible, that employers need to pay the NMW correctly or suffer severe consequences.
When the NMW increases again in April 2019, companies should be wary of the change & ensure it is implemented throughout their organisation to avoid significant fines & public disapproval & many other consequences, such as the affect on morale.
A record 22,400 UK workers received millions of pounds in backpay. There were in the region of 180 employers named & shamed in March 2018, with a around a further 240 in July 2018.
The vast majority of the UK companies named & shamed were hospitality & leisure organisations, with some high-profile hotel & restaurant chains caught up in the large group of companies mentioned.