Carillion, 2017 and the challenges ahead for construction & employment

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Carillion, 2017 and the challenges ahead for construction & employment

2018 looks set to be a significant year for the construction industry. Christmas is now but a distant memory with the only evidence of seasonal cheer being a tighter belt around the waistline and a depleted wallet!

2017 was a challenging year for the construction industry and employment – we saw court cases, Government reviews aplenty and changes to legislation leading the headlines each day. Such trends look set to continue and as always at Marden & Co we like to be prepared… so what clues are there for what lies ahead of us during what is sure to be a challenging year ahead?

Some of the standout court cases we have seen include Deliveroo, Uber and Pimlico Plumbers. Each case established new complications and set legal precedents which had an impact far beyond the confines of each given case.

Employment Status

In reference to the cited cases:

If you supply cars and carry people from A to B, then in traditional thinking you are probably a taxi firm, not an App provider.

If you call the plumbers that work for you self-employed then treat them like employees, they are entitled to all of an employee’s benefits.

What can we learn from this? Well, if you accept a role as a self-employed driver and proceed to choose the hours you work and what jobs to accept, along with delegating some jobs to other operatives, then most certainly you are indeed self-employed (not an employee!) Therefore it follows that any contract must accurately reflect the agreement of both parties for whom it binds and as importantly must truly reflect the reality of the working relationship… which as we can see from recent lawsuits can be extremely tricky!

2017 also witnessed a significant and fundamental change to the rules for employment tribunals and rights. Fees introduced back in 2013 were abolished due to new agreement that it is unlawful to restrict an individual’s right to access justice. Many of you may remember such fees were originally introduced to combat a deluge of opportunistic claims ever since the introduction of ‘no win, no fee’ cases from solicitors in the late 90’s. This undermined the reasoning for introducing such fees in the first place, as these were brought in to provide access to justice for those that were unable to afford expensive legal fees.

As a result, claims against companies citing discrimination and unfair dismissal dropped 70% – so clearly a fair approach for both sides is needed, one that preserves an individuals right to raise grievance through the courts, yet still protect companies (in particular smaller companies with limited resources) from damaging and potentially ruinous claims. This dichotomy has yet to find a comfortable solution and is sure to remain a contentious issue throughout the year ahead.

Furthermore a decision from the European Court of Justice in the King v Sash window workshop case has awarded Mr King, in effect, 13 years back-dated holiday pay, amounting to £27,000!

Finally reviews from the Parliamentary Committee for Work and Pensions (along with Matthew Taylor’s quango investigating employment practices) look set to have a dramatic impact across all employment industries in the year ahead. The implication of such reviews when viewed alongside the draft legislation subsequently published by the committee for works and pensions, suggests control in a given engagement is likely to become the overriding crucial factor. Worker status will be firmly in focus for agreements designed for the self-employed and our prediction is that companies will need to take on the responsibility to prove differently.

A challenging time ahead, and the need for informed and knowledgeable partners to steer you safely through choppy waters – Marden & Co are specialist in the construction industry and employment.

Get in touch with us today by calling 01737 851761 or drop us an email via and let us show you the way.