News

Sponsored walk - please sponsor us!

We will be taking part in the Midland Legal Support Trust's annual sponsored walk in May. It's an important source of income for us, so please sponsor us for the 10km walk by visiting our on-line sponsorship page.

Thank you Midland Legal Support Trust!

A big thank you to the MLST and to everyone who raised funds to support organisations like Birmingham Peoples Centre. Without your support we would struggle to meet the costs involved in providing our services. The grant we recently received will enable us to continue to assist those who have nowhere else to turn and make employment rights meaningful.

A review of the “gig economy” and the Uber case

Why you should not automatically accept the employment status given by your employer

The “gig economy”

The “gig economy” is commonly defined as being a form of casual work on a self-employed basis. It’s undeniable that the “gig economy” has dramatically risen in the wake of the digital revolution, and it is a model commonly used by businesses such as delivery companies. If you are currently working in the “gig economy” then you may find that the company you work for claims that they do not have to provide you with either the minimum wage or paid holidays, protection commonly held by workers. As the gig economy does not fit the usual employment model, it has resulted in concerns pertaining to employment protections.

The Uber case

However, as shown in the recent Uber case, the courts are able to investigate employment relationships to ascertain the individual’s correct status. The drivers in the Uber case argued that, despite the label given to them by Uber, they were workers rather than self-employed and so should receive the protection referred to above.

The courts agreed the drivers were workers. This was primarily down to the level of control which Uber exercised over them, as Uber controlled the fares, routes, instructions and feedback. As such Uber drivers are entitled to 5.6 weeks paid annual leave, a maximum 48-hour average working week, rest breaks, the national minimum wage and the national living wage.

The tribunal’s judgment can be found here.

What next?

There is a current review of the “gig economy” set by the government called the Taylor Review which will investigate how workers’ rights can be married up with employer freedoms in the current gig economy. Details of the review can be found here.

What does this mean for you?

If you think there is a possibility that you may be an employee or a worker, and are not being treated as such, please consider making an appointment with us.

The courts are entitled to look at the reality of the relationship between you and the company you work for, and the fact that your employer has provided you with a piece of paper stating that you are “self-employed” is not necessarily the end of the matter.

Working with students from the University of Law in Birmingham

Students from the University of Law have kindly offered to keep our news section topical by producing regular articles for the website. The first issue covered is the "gig economy" and the recent Uber case. Many thanks to the students involved!

The Bach Commission on Access to Justice

This report summarises the work of the Bach Commission on Access to Justice from its inception in January 2016 through to November 2016. It presents the Commission’s conclusions on the current state of access to justice and indicates initial thoughts on policy recommendations for the future. The report can be viewed here..

Cancer patients face discrimination at work

Almost one-fifth of people (18%) diagnosed with cancer face discrimination from employers or colleagues on return to work, research by the charity Macmillan suggests. Please contact us if this has happened to you. Find out more here.

How not to treat loyal workers - The Kinsley School cleaners

Lesley Leake, Marice Hall and Karen McGee are the ‘Kinsley Three’. They are three victims of the privatisation of education who are fighting back. Between the three of them there is over thirty years of cleaning experience at Kinsley Primary School. When the school was turned into Kinsley Academy the cleaning contract was handed over to C & D Cleaning by Wakefield Council. To find out more about their fight click here.

Revealed: delivery giant Hermes pays some couriers less than living wage

Britain’s second-biggest parcel company, Hermes, which delivers for John Lewis and other major retailers, is paying some of its couriers at levels equivalent to below the national living wage according to a snapshot of information provided by some of those who have worked there.

In common with several delivery firms serving the internet shopping boom, Hermes does not need to pay its couriers the £7.20 an hour living wage introduced in April because they are self-employed. The arrangement is legal and is approved by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

To find out more click here.

Thank you

We are grateful for the support of the William Dudley Trust who recently awarded us a grant to help us purchase much needed office equipment. If you would like to make a donation to fund our work please click on the donate button.

Low-paid workers report sharp rise in ‘wage theft’

A recent report by Citizens Advice highlights the difficulties that some low-paid workers experience in getting the wages that they are owed. If you need help to obtain the money that you are owed by your employer please contact us.

You can find out more here.

Revealed: how Sports Direct effectively pays below minimum wage

A recent investigation by the Guardian highlights working practices employed by Sports Direct that appear to show workers being paid bellow the minimum wage. Details of the report can be found here.

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