A Word from the Editor - June 2018

Alex Lock, DAC Beachcroft LLP
Friday, June 1, 2018

The Employment Lawyers Association has just gone through its exercise in democracy to elect a new Management Committee. I offer my congratulations to those that stood, whether elected or not, as offering to give up one’s time and getting involved in this association is to be commended. That said, I was elected unopposed, so perhaps have been the beneficiary of a lack of others wanting to get involved, saving me from the metaphorical hustings. I will be the editor for another two years and then no more. I will have served three consecutive two-year terms and that is the maximum one can do without a break.

There will undoubtedly be challenges ahead for the ELA. One of those is likely to be ‘engagement’ with the membership and ways in which that can be encouraged. Many of the positions in this round of elections were uncontested, so filled by the solitary candidate who put themselves forward. Some may think it surprising that, in an association of more than 4,000 members, that we should struggle to find a sufficient number of people with their own views and way of contributing to put themselves forward. One for the new Chair and Management Committee to get their teeth into.

As well as challenges about how the association is managed and run, it is likely that the political tide will have an impact on the development of employment law and open the door to the ELA to comment, propose and cajole. It is a fine line to tread. As a non-political organisation, the dividing line between commenting on what works and what is right can be very difficult to discern. For example, we know that employment tribunal claims have at least doubled since fees were ruled unlawful and were then abolished. It cannot be long before some groups or organisations complain about the cost and time involved in dealing with claims which, in their view, are unmeritorious and have been encouraged by a system that requires no financial investment by a claimant in submitting one.

In turn, this will lead to pressure to both limit the so-called ‘cost to the taxpayer’, as opposed to the user of the tribunal system (although arguably both are the same), as well as ‘doing something’ to stem the flow of all these misconceived claims. Is it political to comment upon the principle of fees, or is one confined to comment only on the level of fees and the practicality of the system that administers them?

Questions regarding employment status and the ‘gig economy’ may never be resolved – certainly not by government review it seems – but any proposals for reform may be seen as inherently political. Does one favour the bosses’ desire for flexibility or the workers desire for income and job security (to provide an over-simplified characterisation)?

These are challenges to come and I am sure your representatives will rise to them. In the meantime, political sensitivity is not something that should constrain our authors. As I embark on this period of my editorship I hope to continue to provide a dynamic, thought-provoking, readable and practical journal to you each month. For that, I need good quality, interesting writing and do ask you to get involved and put yourself forward. Writing 1,400 words on a subject you love is easier than you think.




The legal content in this article is believed to be correct and true on this date.