Gig economy reforms needed as numbers soar
The invisible army
One in 10 working-age adults in the UK work on gig economy platforms, double the number who did so in 2016, according to a study by the University of Hertfordshire and the TUC.
The research suggests that 4.7 million people now work in the gig economy and warns that workers’ rights have not kept pace. Ursula Huws, professor of labour and globalisation at the University of Hertfordshire, said: “In a period when wages have been stagnant, people are turning to the internet to top up their earnings. “We see the Uber drivers and food delivery workers on our streets every day. But they’re only a small proportion of gig workers. They’re outnumbered by an invisible army of people working remotely on their computers or smartphones or providing services in other people’s homes.”
Employment tribunal cases rise
Employment tribunal cases rise. More claimants represent themselves in an overloaded and complex court system
According to the employment barrister Bruce Carr, in most cases, claimants are left to pay their own costs in tribunal cases and that leaves many with no choice but to go it alone and represent themselves. He also says that the complexity of the process can be a huge disincentive and intimidating.
Last year, according to figures produced by the Ministry of Justice, there were 121,075 claims – a 10 per cent increase on the previous year. 2017 saw the biggest increase when tribunal fees were scrapped. This has left the tribunal system understaffed and in some cases, the claims process takes well over a year. According to the BBC, the Ministry of Justice has hired 58 extra judges to deal with the increase, has spent £8m on support measures and has pledged a further £3m. However, this is still not enough for a process that can be emotional and draining for both employers and claimants.
Published: 2nd August 2019
Phishing gets worse
A new method used by cybercriminals to carry out funds transfer fraud is through the electronic manipulation of documents.
For example, one claim involved a plastics manufacturer whose computer systems were hacked. This allowed the fraudsters to access the invoice payment templates that were sent out to their customers.
The fraudsters changed the bank details on the form so that when they were issued to customers, the payment simply went to the fraudsters' account rather than the client's. Some £140,000 was transferred to the fraudsters before the client realised what had happened.
The need for employers to get covered up
As we have reported previously, employment claims continue to increase apace. 2017 gave us a 90% increase in ACAS notifications and this year looks to be a further 25% on that figure.
We think this means that currently there are now around 4 new ACAS notifications every hour and our larger clients face roughly a 1 in 15 chance of facing a Tribunal each year.
We continue to see an increase in vexatious claims, often professionally supported and with a wide range of spurious extra complaints and a Data Access request - all of which is designed to increase the perceived complexity, length and cost of the Tribunal.
Faced with an expensive longer hearing, many insurers will look for a deal to settle, so it’s game set and match to the unjustified.
No insurer likes an expensive pyric victory. In a recent example a claimant alleged that a delay in agreeing to an early retirement application was due to disability discrimination. It was not, it was simply a poor process that was badly administered but it took a full ET, an Appeal and finally a Court of Appeal decision to lay the claim to rest. With legal costs in the region of £70,000 any business without adequate insurance would find this a hard cost to bear.
Our average insured claim cost is now £8000, enough to dent the annual dividends of most smaller companies and we have met several claims over £50,000 already this year.
Best advice for SME’s is to completely ‘outsource the employment risk’ – offer them an integrated advice and insurance retainer costing as little as a £150 per month from your favourite local HR provider.
Cyber attacks - are you prepared?
We are not looking to sell you cover (not yet, we are still developing our product) but there is a clear and present danger, not least because of digital crime factories focused on attacking Western business infrastructure.
Most current business insurance policies were designed decades before the Internet or electronic trading. Way before many “data assets” even existed.
In this short piece we are simply alerting you to the gaps you may have in your risk management programme.