The Year of the Employee

Dispute Resolution - 2 minutes read

A simmering political issue in 2016 has been the legal status of workers in the UK. With a government review of employment status, and a raft of cases on the definition of a worker (thanks (or no thanks as the case may be) to the gig economy), 2017 looks to be there year that the shift of employment rights may shift in favour of the employee.

Perhaps it is wishful thinking. 

There is still a long way to go in order to provide a greater access for justice for many employees. Here are a few things that could do with being reviewed, and are few others to look out for:

1) A person’s employment status

Case law churning out of tribunals is making it clear that a person’s employment status is not always what it appears to be. Contractual documentation is no longer the final stop. Workers are bringing claims in the Tribunal which are creating new thought processes within the law.

2) Employment Tribunal fees

The recent review done by the Select Committee suggested that the introduction of fees and the connection with the reduction in claims brought was not a match. 

Well… Most of us would beg to differ. 

Does it look like the fees are here to stay?  Very likely. Time will tell if this changes.

3) Recovery of fees in the Employment Tribunal

If anything is going to put anyone bringing a claim against another, it is knowing that even if you won your claim, you would not be able to recover your costs from the losing party (save in the most grave of misconduct circumstances). 

This restriction often kills many claims before they have even begun. I wonder whether this will change any time soon. At best, at least, like in civil claims, have different thresholds where cost recovery is a possibility!

4) Full employment rights threshold

In order for an employee to have full employment rights, they must have continuous employment with the company for at least 2 years.

Surely going up in number is not an option, but going down should certainly be considered in order to protect employees sooner.


Whether it is Brexit, or whether it is a successive Government, there are still plenty of ways that the employment law model can better serve both employer and employee.

Watch this space.