Uber heads to the Court of Appeal, and other gig economy news

As expected, Uber have appealed the EAT decision which held a tribunal was entitled to find two of its drivers were workers. However, the much-anticipated “leapfrogging” application to the Supreme Court was refused. This means that the Pimlico Plumbers worker status case will be heard in February 2018 alone, with Uber’s case being heard by the Court of Appeal later in the year.

The House of Commons Work and Pensions and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committees have produced a joint report, A framework for modern employment. The report proposes draft legislation to take forward some of the recommendations of the Taylor Review, and in particular suggests that the UK should implement a model of worker status by default. Under this proposal, it would be for businesses to prove self-employment if there was a dispute.

Margot James, the Business Minister, has announced that the government’s response to July’s Taylor Review has been pushed back until the start of next year.

Pensions auto-enrolment: a busy year of enforcement activity by the Pensions Regulator

It has been more than five years since the pensions auto-enrolment obligations began to be gradually phased in. These require employers to automatically enrol certain workers into a qualifying pension scheme and contribute with respect to them, and to make pension provision for certain other types of worker if that worker wants it. Any new employer from 1 October 2017 needs to comply with the automatic enrolment duties from the start date of its first worker.

Auto-enrolment is complex and involves ongoing compliance, including reporting obligations and the requirement to carry out a re-enrolment process every three years. The Pensions Regulator is in charge of enforcement and has been very public and active in its activity in this regard, which can, amongst other things, include imposing fines. It has recently secured the first conviction of its kind against the bus company Stotts Tours (Oldham) and its Managing Director who pleaded guilty to a total of 16 offences of wilfully failing to comply with auto-enrolment.

Not every instance of non compliance will lead to such an extreme result. For employers, the key to avoiding such issues is to understand what their legal obligations are and to implement them, taking advice where necessary. If things do go wrong, employers need to put a plan in place to correct them and action it promptly.