What We Learned in 2018

By Carol Smith
02 Jan 2019

2018 was a year of great upheaval, politically as well as in terms of HR & Employment Law.

Although it may not seem it, the workplace changed dramatically in the space of a year. From the gender pay gap reports and numerous cases of harassment and abuse of non-disclosure agreements, to a seemingly endless stream of gig-economy cases.

Here’s just a few lessons we’ve learned from 2018, and how they might impact the workplace moving forward.

1. Gig Economy & Workers Rights

2018 was riddled with cases on workers’ rights. Big names like Deliveroo, Uber, Addison Lee, Pimlico Plumbers, and Hermes have all been on the receiving end of claims. The situation was brought into the spotlight by the Taylor Review in July 2017, which considered the implications of new forms of work on worker rights and responsibilities.

While the specifics of each case has differed, the general theme is the same... individuals working in the Gig Economy want more rights.

On the whole, cases have ruled in favour of the worker, and towards the end of 2018, this position was solidified by the introduction of the Good Work Plan.

The Good Work Plan has been deemed the ‘largest overhaul to employment rights for years’ by the government, but is unlikely to be implemented until 2020 at the earliest. Still, the 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, and an inability to deduct money from tips.

2. The Gender Pay Gap

Last year we got the first concrete evidence from the businesses themselves, that women face financial inequality in the workplace.

In April 2018, 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, and an additional 9% are looking to carry out an equal pay audit.

The gender pay gap reports have also opened the door to other types of pay reporting, including ethnicity pay gaps, and the executive pay gaps which are 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 in 202 years), the gender pay gap reports serve as a strong first step and will inspire further progress in the coming years.

3. National Minimum Wage

In 2018 a large chunk of businesses were publicly named and shamed for not paying the national minimum wage (NMW) to their employees. While this is not unheard of, the scale of the naming and shaming was on a level never seen before.

A record 22,400 workers received millions in backpay. There were around 180 employers named and shamed in March, with a further 240 in July.

The majority of the companies named and shamed were hospitality and leisure organisations, with some high-profile restaurant and hotel chains caught up in the mix.

2018 highlighted the need, in the most severe way possible, to pay the NMW correctly or sufferthe consequences.

When the NMW increases again in April 2019, companies should be wary of the change, and ensure it is implemented throughout their organisation to avoid significant fines and public disapproval.

Expert Support

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About the Author

Carol Smith

Carol joined Croner in 2001 as an Employment Consultant advising a wide range of clients on all aspects of Employment Law and HR practice. She demonstrates particular expertise in complex disciplinary, grievance matters and reorganisation / redundancy.


Carol Smith

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