Employment law and the cost of living crisis
The cost of living crisis is a major issue facing many people in the UK, with rising costs of housing, food, and other essentials putting significant pressure on individuals and families. At the same time, employment law plays a crucial role in protecting workers’ rights and ensuring fair treatment in the workplace.
However, there are concerns that some employers may be exploiting workers to cut costs and boost profits, exacerbating the cost of living crisis. In this blog, we will explore the link between employment law and the cost of living crisis and discuss the steps that employers can take to ensure fair treatment of their workers.
UK Employment law
Employment law is a complex and constantly evolving area, covering a wide range of issues such as discrimination, wages, working hours, and health and safety.
The aim of employment law is to protect workers from unfair treatment and to promote a safe, healthy, and productive working environment. However, there are concerns that some employers may be flouting employment law to cut costs, for example by paying workers less than the minimum wage, failing to provide adequate rest breaks, or ignoring health and safety regulations.
Cost of Living Crisis
The cost of living crisis, on the other hand, is driven by a range of factors including inflation, stagnating wages, and rising housing costs. According to recent research, the average UK household’s disposable income has fallen by 14% since the financial crisis in 2008, while the cost of living has risen by 18%. This means that many people are struggling to make ends meet, with some forced to choose between paying their bills and putting food on the table.
So, what is the link between employment law and the cost of living crisis?
Essentially, the cost of living crisis is exacerbated when employers exploit workers to cut costs and boost profits. For example, if a worker is paid less than the minimum wage, they may struggle to afford basic necessities such as food and housing. Similarly, if a worker is not provided with adequate rest breaks or is exposed to unsafe working conditions, they may be at risk of injury or illness, which can impact their ability to work and earn a living.
Employment law plays a crucial role in protecting workers from exploitation and ensuring fair treatment in the workplace. For example, the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 sets out the minimum wage rates that employers must pay to their workers.
Employers who fail to pay the minimum wage can face fines and legal action, legislation which helps to deter them from exploiting their workers. Similarly, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 sets out the legal duties that employers have to ensure the health and safety of their workers. Employers who breach these duties can face fines and legal action, legislation which helps to ensure that workers are not exposed to unnecessary risks.
Health and Safety
Employment law also plays a crucial role in ensuring the health and safety of workers. Employers are required to provide a safe working environment and take measures to prevent accidents and injuries in the workplace. This includes providing adequate training, protective equipment, and implementing safety protocols.
Failure to comply with health and safety regulations can result in legal consequences and can have devastating effects on workers and their families. Employment and business law solicitors can advise both employees and employers on their rights and responsibilities in regards to health and safety in the workplace.
Furthermore, employment law also covers issues related to workplace discrimination and harassment. Employees are protected from discrimination on the basis of their race, gender, age, religion, disability, and other factors.
Employers are required to provide a workplace free from harassment and discrimination, and any violations of these rights can result in legal action. Employment law firms and solicitors can assist individuals who have experienced discrimination or harassment in the workplace by providing guidance on their legal options and the services in representing them in legal proceedings if necessary.
Maternity and parental rights are a key area of employment law that employers and employees need to be aware of. It is essential that employers provide support and flexibility to their employees during this time, as it can be a stressful and challenging period.
In the UK, employees are entitled to up to 52 weeks of maternity leave, with the first 26 weeks of parental leave being known as ‘ordinary maternity leave’ and the remaining 26 weeks as ‘additional maternity leave’. During this time, employees are entitled to statutory maternity pay, subject to certain eligibility criteria.
In addition to maternity leave, employees also have the right to request flexible working arrangements in order to balance work and caring responsibilities. This can include part-time work, job-sharing, or working from home.
Employers are required by law to consider these requests and can only refuse them for legitimate business reasons. It is important for employers to create a supportive and inclusive workplace and business culture that values and respects the needs of all employees, including working parents.
Employment tribunals are an important aspect of employment law that deal with disputes between employers and employees.
These tribunals are responsible for resolving cases related to unfair dismissal, discrimination claims, breach of contract claims, and other workplace issues. The tribunal is made up of a panel of three members – a judge, an employer representative, and an employee representative. Both parties can present their evidence and arguments before the tribunal, and the judge will make a decision based on the evidence presented.
One of the benefits of employment tribunals is that they provide a fair and impartial process for resolving disputes between employers and employees. They offer a less formal and less costly alternative to court proceedings, allowing parties to resolve their disputes in a more timely and efficient manner.
Employment tribunals also provide a level of accountability for employers who may have violated employment laws or breached their contract with an employee. Employees who feel that they have been treated unfairly or unlawfully can seek justice through an employment tribunal, and employers who have acted improperly can be held accountable. However, it is important to note that while employment tribunals can provide a valuable forum for resolving disputes, they should not be viewed as a substitute for proper workplace policies and procedures.
Employers should strive to maintain good working relationships with their employees and address issues as they arise, rather than waiting for employee disputes to escalate to the point of legal action.
Employment law advice
However, employment law is not a panacea for the cost of living crisis. There are still concerns that some employers may be exploiting workers to cut costs and boost profits, despite the legal protections in place. In order to address these concerns, employers need to take a proactive approach to ensuring fair treatment of their workers.
This may include paying workers a fair wage, or equal pay, providing adequate rest breaks, and ensuring that working conditions are safe and healthy. Employers who invest in their workers in this way are likely to benefit from increased productivity, improved morale, and a more engaged and motivated workforce.
In conclusion, the cost of living crisis is a major issue facing many people in the UK, driven by a range of factors including inflation, stagnating wages, and rising housing costs. Employment law plays a crucial role in protecting workers from exploitation and ensuring fair treatment in the workplace.
However, there are concerns that some employers may be exploiting workers to cut costs and boost profits, exacerbating the cost of living crisis. Employers need to take a proactive approach to ensuring fair treatment of their workers, including paying a fair wage
Specialist employment solicitors
Specialist employment solicitors can provide invaluable guidance and support to both employers and employees navigating complex employment law issues. These solicitors have extensive knowledge and experience in all aspects of employment law, including discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, and redundancy.
They can provide access to their services and advice on the legal obligations of both parties and represent clients in employment tribunal hearings or negotiations.
One of the primary benefits of working with a specialist employment solicitor is the level of expertise and insight they can offer. These solicitors have a deep understanding of the nuances of employment law and can provide tailored advice and guidance to clients based on their unique situation.
They can also help clients navigate complex legal procedures and ensure that their rights are protected throughout the process.
Additionally, employment solicitors can provide guidance and advise on best practices for employers, helping to advise them to make employment contracts, create policies and procedures that are compliant with employment law and promote a positive workplace culture.
No win no fee – employment and discrimination law advice
In summary, Dickinson Parker Hill can guide clients through the ACAS Early Conciliation, tribunal, and court process on a no win no fee basis, with a maximum deduction of 35% of fees payable to the representation firm in accordance with the Damages Based Agreement Regulations 2013. Clients are only liable for the representation firm’s fees if they end the agreement and have secured a settlement or successful judgment, their opponent admits liability, it is within a week of trial, or if they behave unreasonably.