31 Oct 2017

Be afraid, be very afraid! There are four truly frightening HR facts and myths we are busting this Halloween

The workplace can be a scary place for those employers who are not employment law savvy. We dust the cobwebs off four real issues this Halloween. 


1.     I know what you did last summer. Like many people you will have read and heard about the major publicity surrounding Employment tribunal claims. They are on the rise again since the rescinding of the fee structure. Beware of the arrival of the serial litigant knocking on the door of your business even before they are invited to an interview. Make sure you avoid any pitfalls in your recruitment advertisements. Be especially cautious when asking for a specific length of experience, the use of masculine/feminine words, or trigger words such as ‘athletic, junior, or recent graduate’ in your text to avoid discrimination at the first hurdle.
2.    Is your business GDPR ready? And what does this even mean? We have experienced scary warnings around the threat of huge fines, complex internal procedures, expense of hiring data protection officers, and the security risks of online data storage. But is GDPR really that terrifying? The best place to start is with your own HR audit, which means examining what data you have, on whom and how long you keep it for. You know your business best, so start with what you do know. Of course, If you are not sure what employee and candidate data consists of then give us a call and we can help de-mystify it for you.
3.    Are your staff employees, workers or self-employed? It’s been a regular Nightmare on Tribunal Street establishing true employment status for years now. But the stakes have been raised with the massive increase in the ‘gig’ economy, with ‘Uber’ claims of full employment status being claimed by workers. Remember that an Agreement with a so called, self-employed subcontractor does not mean that they are one as fact. It is what happens in practice that matters. The tribunal will examine all aspects of the relationship, such as the ability to substitute or delegate work, the balance of power (Autoklenz v Belcher 2011) constraints on work, and degree of dependence upon services. This area of law still remains uncertain as we await a hearing from the Supreme Court in the case of Pimlico Plumbers v Smith (2017) which will no doubt be conjoined with a decision for the case of Uber this winter.
4.    All employers are spooked at the thought of a discrimination claim. In 2003, because compensation awards in discrimination were difficult to predict, the Court of Appeal devised a sliding scale of awards in such cases which became known as the “Vento scale” after the name of the claimant. This is revised from time to time to take account of inflation and other prevailing trends. On the 4th September 2017 the President of the Employment Tribunals announced a 10% uplift in damages within the bands of severity. This will send shivers down the spine of employers who fail to take discrimination seriously considering the lowest band of compensation is between £800-8,400, which is reserved for the most minor low level one-off occurrences. It will be appreciated that repeated acts and serious harassment will in all probability result in awards towards the top of the scale.


If any of any of these issues have freaked you out this Halloween, call the real employment law busters at Nigel French & Associates Ltd on

By Lydia French
Your Ghostwriter