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Melanie provides practical employment advice to businesses, directors, partner/members and employees, particularly to clients in the financial services and technology sectors. She has 18 years’ experience in this area and has expertise in negotiating contracts and settlement agreements.
Melanie is Joint Head of the Irwin Mitchell French Group.
Melanie advises boards on their business structures and throughout reorganisation proceedings. She also assists businesses on making their acquisitions and sales.
She has experience in handling a variety of cases, including:
She is ranked as an expert in legal directories Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners.
“These statistics reveal that employers are facing an avalanche of claims as employees are no longer put off using the tribunal process.
“What is also clear is that this demand is increasing the costs for employers and putting tribunals, which have cut their staff, under significant pressure to the point that they are struggling to cope and case outcomes are being delayed.”
“Some recommendations in the Taylor Report, such as requiring payslips for all workers, are easy to implement and it is encouraging that the Government has reacted positively to these. There is, however, no indication when changes will be made. The more complicated issues such as determining or redefining the status and rights of gig workers will be subject to future consultations so, at best, we are all at the start of a long process of change in the law. This still leaves a lot of uncertainty.
“One immediate issue that stands out is that the Government’s intention to ‘enforce’ vulnerable workers’ rights to holiday and sick pay. Whilst workers can bring claims in the Tribunal, many were deterred by now abolished fees, or the fear of losing their jobs if they raised the issue with their employers. Matthew Taylor suggested that HMRC should become responsible for enforcing payment of holiday and sick pay in much the same way as it does for underpayment of the National Living/Minimum Wage. This is logical and welcome however, it won’t necessarily achieve what it says on the tin. A report published in December 2017, identified each year at least 2 million workers experience non-payment of wages or holiday pay and that those unpaid wages amount to at least £1.3 billion per year. The scale of this problem is huge.”
“This is a crucial case and many businesses will be keeping a close eye on the outcome, particularly in relation to how many other people must be affected by the subject of a particular disclosure for it to be considered to be in the public interest”.
“The two test cases, which began on 20 July, centre on the drivers' claim that the terms and conditions of their work with Uber mean that they are not technically self-employed and should be entitled to a range of benefits including sickness and holiday pay.
“In his witness statement, one Claimant said that his net earnings for August 2015 after expenses were just £5.03 per hour, which is significantly less than minimum wage. However, Uber claimed that, based on the total number of hours logged into the app, he had been paid £13.77 on an average hourly basis.
“On the first day of the tribunal, Counsel acting for Uber sought to show that the Claimants were self-employed as they can freely choose when they work. Uber argue that drivers have choice over their work and that there is nothing requiring them to work exclusively for Uber.
“However, the Claimants disagree, stating that they do not believe they have free choice and that they are controlled very closely by the company.
“This case follows on from the Pimlico Plumbers case and attempts to address key concerns around classification of workers and self-employed. The outcome of this case could have serious implications for Uber. If the drivers are deemed employees, Uber and many other UK businesses with similar business models may be seriously affected.
“Over recent years, there have been a number of cases attempting to deal with the blurred lines between self-employed and workers. Increasing numbers of individuals miss out on employment rights due to the companies they work for misclassifying them as self-employed, which helps them avoid the costs of minimum wage, holiday pay, sick pay and possible National Insurance Contributions.
"A ruling in favour of the drivers could therefore open the floodgates to an array of individuals coming forward and claiming they have been wrongly labelled, this could lead to some substantial payments to HMRC and compensation to individuals whom companies wrongly failed to treat as workers. Businesses should therefore start reviewing the terms and conditions of their working arrangements to try and prevent any claims in the future.”
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