Employment law is back in the headlines, and this time, it’s personnel

“Sacked for taking a lunch break”
“Sales assistant sacked for being AWOL when she was actually on holiday”
“Banter tribunals on the rise”

These are just some of the headlines you might have enjoyed this year if you were following employment law. Sometimes the details are even juicier. Is it acceptable to take lunch with a friend while your company is in crisis? Do employers see a sign of disloyalty, where employees see a worker’s entitlement?

Or what of the cleaner who was sacked for eating a leftover tuna sandwich? Let go for taking “client property … without authority or reasonable excuse.” Common sense as easily discarded as a valued employee.

And then we’d be remiss to forget the recent age discrimination case concerning an employee who was reported as being upset after being offered a chair to sit on.

Employment law remains a minefield for employers and employees alike. For the media, it is the gift that keeps on giving. Stories that reach the public about employment tribunals raise eyebrows. Never mind that everyone is striving for healthy hiring relationships, or that beneath the headlines are very human stories.

In April, The Times published an article stating : “Employment law isn’t working for anyone.” It read that the employment tribunal process encourages opportunists while doing nothing to tackle workplace abuse. The comments ran into the hundreds.

But employment law is making inroads in a different way in 2024.

Polls, mayoral wins, by-elections and council victories all point towards a country on the cusp of a change of government. A rarer event for those on the British Isles than one might initially believe.

Lucy Powell, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, pointed out in a speech made last week that at 49 years old, she had only seen government change hands twice in her adult life. As Martin Kettle pointed out in the Guardian, there have been only three changes of government in the past half century.

We stand before one of these very rare moments. In preparation, the Labour Party have published its Green Paper entitled A New Deal for Working People which outlines the party’s proposals to reform current employment law.

The initiatives were wide-ranging, with Labour pledging to “strengthen workers’ rights and make Britain work for working for people”. Unfair dismissal protections are being expanded, the “right to switch off” outside working hours is to be introduced, and a single status of “worker” is set to bring all rights under one roof.

Employment law is back on the agenda, and this time, it’s personnel. The entire country will be coming to grips with swathes of new laws and regulations that are set to be debated and analysed throughout the media. In the last 12 months there has been an 11% increase in mentions of ‘employment law’ across the British press, a trend that we expect to continue over the coming months.

For employment law experts, this represents an opportunity to cut through the headlines and inform and engage businesses on what they can expect. Offering thought leadership and commentary on these developments in the press is an effective strategy to build trust with key stakeholders and enhance the reputation of your organisation. The heightened national media interest on these developments can provide a great platform for firms and experts to reach new audiences and further build credibility.

As Powell’s speech to the Institute for Government recognises, these opportunities do not come around very often.

If you’d like to discuss how we could position your firm as leaders on these issues, get in touch today.

Get in touch with the team