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Latest Brief - Week Ending 22 June 2018  

Pimlico Plumbers - the latest decision on worker status

In the latest high profile decision on worker status, the Supreme Court has upheld the decision of the Tribunal, the EAT and the Court of Appeal that the claimant in this case was a 'worker'.  The Supreme Court confirmed that in order to conclude that the claimant in this case was a worker, he had to show that he had undertaken to perform work personally for Pimlico Plumbers, and that the company was neither his client nor his customer.  

The court concluded that it was clear from the claimant's contract that he should perform the work himself, in that he did not have an unfettered right to give away the work.  Pimlico Plumbers exercised a high degree of control over the claimant, including in relation to his uniform, the administrative duties that he needed to carry out, and the frequency and amount of payments.  The relationship of subordination was a key indicator that Pimlico Plumbers was not the claimant's client.  

Even though this case has been widely reported, the judgment of the Supreme Court adds little to the existing case law on the meaning of 'worker,' and the same test for worker status as used previously will continue to apply.  

Fathers and the workplace

The government has this week published its response to a recent report which called on the government to improve rights for fathers at work.  The government confirmed that it was unlikely to follow the Committee's recommendation of providing two weeks' paternity leave as a day one right, and further rejected the suggestion that fathers should be entitled to paid time off to attend antenatal appointments as a day one right.  The Committee also recommended an additional 12 week paternal leave entitlement (to be taken in the first year) which would replace the current shared parental leave system.  The government has confirmed that this proposal would require further consultation, and that as the current system is new, it is not yet possible to determine whether change would be appropriate.  The government also confirmed that it would consider whether 'paternity' should be a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.  

Improving diversity in the workplace

The government has suggested that employers should ask their employees about their schooling and parents' background to improve diversity in the workplace.  The guidelines suggest that employers should create a multiple choice questionnaire enabling employees to provide detail on the type of school they attended, eligibility for free school meals, and their parents' qualifications.  The guidelines will be adopted by some civil service departments this year, but will remain optional for other employers.

Latest Brief - Week Ending 1 June 2018

Zero hours contracts and less favourable treatment

This week, the EAT has decided a case involving a part-time lecturer for a University who worked under a zero hours contract.  He brought a claim under the Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000, and sought to compare himself to a full-time lecturer.  

Initially, the employment tribunal found that a full-time lecturer was not a valid comparator for his claim, as the two individuals were not employed under the same type of contract.  However this has now been overturned on appeal to the EAT, and it has been confirmed that a zero hours contract and full-time permanent contract are the same type of contract for these purposes, as both the claimant and his comparator were employees employed under a contract of employment.  The EAT confirmed that a contract is not of a different type just because the terms and conditions it lays down are different.  The implications of this decision could well be wide ranging, and could result in employers needing to review the terms of their zero hours contracts to ensure that they are comparable to those for their full time staff.  

The 10 worst excuses for not appointing women to FTSE 350 boards

The team behind the recent government commissioned review which called on FTSE 350 companies to aim for a minimum of 33% women's representation on their board by 2020, has revealed the most outrageous excuses that companies have used for not appointing more women to their boards.  

Excuses include "there aren't that many women with the right credentials and depth of experience to sit on the board - the issues covered are extremely complex," "I don't think women fit comfortably into the board environment," and "we have one woman already on the board, so we are done - it is someone else's turn."  

It is clear that there is still some way to go when it comes to working towards a better gender balance on boards, with one commentator noting that these comments were more reminiscent of 1918 than 2018.  The latest figures showing the number of women on FTSE 350 boards are due to be published on 27th June.