News 3-10 September 2020
Published 11 September 2020
As autumn approaches in the most bizarre medical crisis of recent global history, and a second COVID-19 wave seems set to break across the lower back the nation, three recent court rulings are worth considering for their likely impact in setting the future landscape of employment law and working life in the UK. As life continues to tumble further into the desperately roaring heat of the rapidly combusting 2020’s the future normality of the employment landscape is taking shape, and it’s hot.
The recent ruling by an administrative court covered the rights (or the lack thereof) for ‘gig workers’ in relation to: the CJRS scheme, SSP, PTSED and even some human rights considerations. The decision has far reaching implications for ‘gig workers’ who are estimated to makeup 20-30% of the UK workforce by research conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute (1) or 6.5 - 9.8 million workers according to the Office for National Statistics. (2) The judgment has far reaching implications for this widening sector of the economy and has perhaps set the tone for what could become a much broader weakening of workers rights in the face of the increasingly staunch government pursuit of economic growth at all costs. (3) On a more specific note, the thorny and recurrent issue over whether employers can dismiss employees who refuse to return to work after lockdown restrictions are eased should be addressed on a case-by-case basis and consider the issues specific to each refusal. (4)
Finally, it is worth noting that even employment tribunals make the wrong decisions, as highlighted in the case of Kelly v PGA European Tour, in the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT). (5) The EAT found that the previous employment tribunal’s decision to order re-engagement was fundamentally wrong as it failed to consider the respondents loss of ‘trust and confidence’ in the claimant by being ordered to re-engage their employment albeit in another country.
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