Labour losing race to the top on employment rights policy

So, the supposedly free-market Tories have had their Stalinist-sounding ‘long-term economic plan’, and now Labour has a ‘better economic plan’. Towards the end of the latter, a chapter entitled ‘Supporting firms to win the race to the top, not get dragged into a race to the bottom’, states:

Too often it is assumed that the only way for firms in sectors such as retail, hospitality and social care to compete is by cutting employee pay and conditions. But many firms in these sectors want to be able to compete through higher skill, higher wage business models, without being undercut and dragged into a race to the bottom.

The [Coalition] Government has actively encouraged a race to the bottom by weakening the UK’s enforcement regime and promoting a hire-and-fire culture: doubling the qualification period for unfair dismissal, introducing fees for employment tribunals, and setting up a controversial scheme whereby employees trade their employment rights in return for a share in the company.

[Labour’s new industrial strategy] is about giving employers the tools they need to raise standards, and also protect them from being undercut, by raising the minimum wage, ending the abuse of zero-hours contracts, and making it illegal to use agency workers to undercut wages and conditions.

Bafflingly, there’s no further mention of – let alone any pledge to reverse – that doubling of the unfair dismissal qualifying period. Nor is there any mention of Labour’s previous pledge to reform the tribunal fees that have done so much damage to the ‘enforcement regime’. Given that employer lobby groups such as the CBI and FSB have openly called for the hefty fees to be substantially lowered, this is an astonishing omission from what is clearly intended to be a business-friendly document.

Indeed, once you cut through the rather repetitive references to ‘the race to the bottom’ and ‘raising our ambitions for the domestically-traded sectors’, there are precious few commitments to policy reform that might actually help achieve the plan’s lofty goals. Apart from reiterating both welcome plans to “encourage more employers to pay a living wage” and the disappointingly modest pledge to “increase the minimum wage to £8 an hour before 2020”, the 80-page document sets out just three broad policy pledges specific to “reducing the pressures employers face to get dragged into a race to the bottom”:

1. Banning the abuse of zero-hours contracts: giving workers on zero-hours contracts new legal rights to be protected from employers forcing them to be available at all hours, insisting they cannot work for anyone else, or cancelling shifts at short notice without compensation, and giving workers on zero-hours contracts who are actually working regular hours week-in week-out a right to a contract with fixed minimum hours. We will also introduce a new Acas Code of Practice [on zero-hours contracts].

This is all very well, but – as I’ve previously noted elsewhere and the document itself recognises just two paragraphs later, in relation to enforcement of the minimum wage – there is no point having rules if they are not enforced. And, presumably, the only way to enforce these proposed new rules would be for individual workers to pursue a tribunal claim against their abusive employer. Which very few workers would be likely to do, even without the fees of up to £1,200 on which the document is so surprisingly silent. So, new Labour ministers could huff and puff all they like, but their shiny new rules wouldn’t blow many rogue employers down.

2. Tackling undercutting by rogue employment agencies: taking action to crack down on rogue agencies that exploit workers illegally for profit – for example through a licensing system that ensures agencies are complying with basic standards or stopped from operating; extending the Gangmasters Licensing Authority approach to cover sectors where there is evidence of high levels of migrant labour and exploitative working practices; and closing the loophole in the Agency Workers Directive that allows agency workers to be used to undercut employees.

This is more encouraging, even if it is somewhat ill-defined. However, both the employer lobby groups and past Labour ministers have been strongly against extending the GLA’s licensing regime to other sectors – with good reason. And, since 2010, Coalition ministers have reduced the BIS employment agency standards inspectorate to a rump of just three staff. So it’s not at all clear who Ed Miliband, Rachel Reeves and Chuka Umunna think would do all the cracking down. In short, there’s a lot of work yet to be done on this policy pledge if it’s to become more than a vague sop to the TUC, which has stuck rigidly to its call to extend the GLA regime.

3. Ensuring proper enforcement of the rules: there is no point in having rules if they are not enforced. Under this Government, the number of inspections into whether the National Minimum Wage was being paid has more than halved and there have been just two prosecutions since 2010. There is widespread agreement that better enforcement would support employers that play by the rules. Labour will improve this by: increasing the fines for breaching the minimum wage to £50,000; extending the remit of the HMRC minimum wage unit to cover holiday pay; giving councils a role in enforcement; and trebling the fines for knowingly employing illegal migrants.

The last of this third set of policy actions is little more than dog whistle politics, but there’s a good case for capitalising on the local, front-line knowledge of councils in order to improve enforcement of the NMW. And extending the HMRC unit’s remit to cover holiday pay is something I suggested in 2011, as an obvious first step in incrementally fusing the HMRC unit and the GLA into a genuine fair employment agency; more recently, it was a recommendation of the June 2014 report on low pay by Alan Buckle.

But Labour are kidding themselves – and the voting public – if they think that increasing the maximum penalty for breaching the NMW to £50,000 will have more than a marginal impact. For the penalty is set at 100 per cent of the total arrears owed, and in all but a handful of cases that sum is relatively small, and certainly well below £50,000. For example, among the 162 NMW-flouting firms named and shamed by BIS to date, including the tranche of 70 named today, the total arrears owed – and so the penalty imposed – was less than £10,000 in 154 cases, and exceeded the current maximum of £20,000 in just four cases. And, as they each involved a number of workers, those four cases would have been more than adequately covered by the Government’s proposed new maximum penalty of £20,000 per underpaid worker, set out in the Small Business, Enterprise & Employment Bill and almost certain to become law before Parliament is dissolved on 30 March.

Of course, Labour could increase the penalties by increasing the penalty rate from 100 per cent of the arrears owed to, say, 200 per cent. But that’s quite different to what Labour are saying they would do, and might be quite hard to justify when, in the vast majority of cases, the total sum owed in underpayments is relatively small, and the employer is a (very) small business. Among the 162 firms named and shamed by BIS, the average underpayment per worker was just £306.11, and no fewer than 35 of the 162 firms are hairdressers or beauty salons. We’re (mostly) not talking big corporates here.

All in all, Labour’s ‘better economic plan’ is depressingly short on credible, fully-formed (and costed) policy ideas for halting the race to the bottom in pay and working conditions. The good news is that I’m available to help sort that out, and my daily rate is a lot less than Jack Straw’s.

Waiting for your call, Chuka.







Will the next government put the ‘fair’ back into unfair dismissal law?

Last week, for some reason, my mind kept wandering back to 2011, the year in which every stakeholder meeting with BIS officials was dominated by a shouty policy wonk from the British Chambers of Commerce. The year in which BIS spent taxpayers’ money compiling a consultation response that – without so much as a ‘winking’ emoticon to let you in on the joke – stated:

In a survey of 1,100 of their nuttiest members, the Institute of Directors told us that large numbers of businesses had expressed concerns about dismissal and the risk of tribunal claims in relation to recruitment plans. Fifty-one per cent of respondents to the survey said that the one-year qualifying period for unfair dismissal was a ‘significant’ or ‘very significant’ factor in considering whether to take on an additional employee.

Yes, OK, I added ‘nuttiest’. But I don’t think it makes any difference. For the fact is business secretary Vince Cable opted to extend the unfair dismissal qualifying period to two years, on the basis that 561 (two per cent) of the 34,000 members of a Pall Mall-based organisation that’s had only two female heads in its 112-year history thought they could get a bit more deregulation of the labour market by ticking a box in a survey questionnaire. Perhaps, being a Liberal Democrat, Dr Cable just felt a natural affinity with the largely woman-free Institute.

To be fair to Dr Cable, the somewhat less nutty CBI did say that extending the unfair dismissal qualifying period would “have a positive impact on marginal hiring decisions, particularly in smaller firms.” But then that sort of depends on how you define ‘marginal’. Because what the November 2011 BIS consultation response failed to note is that, at that time, the UK’s 1.2 million employers faced an unfair dismissal claim just once every 27.5 years, on average. So, if business leaders really were hamstrung by anxiety over whether their next hiring decision would result in an unfair dismissal ET claim, then we know who to blame for the UK economy lagging behind so many of its competitors.

The BIS consultation response also overlooked the fact that, as shown by the following chart, the number of unfair dismissal claims had been declining steadily since early 2009 (when, of course, the economy was not exactly in best form). Faced with such statistical evidence, as distinct from the views of a self-selecting sliver of the membership of an exclusive Pall Mall club, most time-pressed ministers would probably have opted not to try and fix something not obviously broken. But poor Dr Cable had the abominable Adrian Beecroft and his pals in 10 and 11 Downing Street to deal with. So, with the economy struggling to get out of first gear, Dr Cable thought it best to make workers (aka consumers) a little bit more insecure, but not quite as insecure as Beecroft would have made them.


And so it was that, in April 2012, the Unfair Dismissal and Statement of Reasons for Dismissal (Variation of Qualifying Period) Order 2012 extended the unfair dismissal qualifying period from 12 months to two years, and what we might call the Blair-Brown era of unfair dismissal claims (the red columns in the chart) came to an end. Then, somewhat ironically, given that the BIS consultation response had predicted the extension would result in a 3.3 per cent fall in the number of unfair dismissal claims, the dawn of the Beecroft-Cable era (the blue columns in the chart) saw a not insignificant increase in the number of such claims. (That 3.3 per cent, incidentally, is what we policy nerds call ‘spurious precision’. BIS had absolutely no idea how much claim numbers would fall by, if at all, but cunningly concealed that fact by suggesting it had calculated the drop to a tenth of one per cent. MPs and especially journalists fall for this every day of the week.)

Yes, there might have been an even bigger rise, had Dr Cable not acted as indecisively as he did. There’s simply no way of knowing. Whatever, by early 2013, the number of unfair dismissal claims had slipped back pretty much to where it had been in late 2010. And then, of course, we entered the Grayling-Swinson era (the orange columns in the chart), during which the number of unfair dismissal claims has fallen to levels not seen since the Institute of Directors last had a female head, in 1926. With the result that UK employers now face an unfair dismissal ET claim just once every 87 years, on average.

In short, this was evidence-free policy making, based on nothing more than an ideological hunch that eroding legal protection against unfair dismissal would somehow boost job creation. Yet, amid ever greater casualisation of the labour market, the move has unquestionably shifted the imbalance of power between workers and employers a little bit more in favour of the latter. So, with the economy now doing somewhat better than it was in late 2011, there’s a good case for putting the qualifying period back to one year (or even lowering it all the way to six months).

Good employers would have nothing to fear from such a move, as the law on unfair dismissal does not prevent an employer from dismissing a qualifying employee for incompetence or even just for not working hard enough – it simply requires the employer to follow a fair process when doing so. And, as Simon Jones notes in this blog post, that isn’t hard to do. But a shorter qualifying period would create a bit more security in what is an increasingly insecure labour market.

It seems safe to assume this is not a direction of travel in which Conservative ministers would go after 7 May, and the Liberal Democrats’ pre-manifesto, published last September, is entirely silent on the matter. The July 2014 report of Labour’s National Policy Forum, which is supposed to form the basis of the party’s general election manifesto, does include the extension of the qualifying period among a list of Coalition policies that have “fundamentally undermined employment rights”, but there’s no clear commitment to reverse the extension. Similarly, Labour’s better economic plan for prosperity, published yesterday, states:

The [Coalition] Government has actively encouraged a race to the bottom [in wages and skills] by weakening the UK’s enforcement regime and promoting a hire-and-fire culture: doubling the qualification period for unfair dismissal; introducing fees for employment tribunals; and setting up a controversial scheme whereby employees trade their employment rights in return for a share in the company.

Despite this highlighting of the issue, there’s still no place in the plan for a pledge to reverse the doubling of the qualifying period for unfair dismissal (or, indeed, to do anything at all about the equally controversial employment tribunal fees). But then there was no mention in the National Policy Forum report of increasing paternity leave and pay, and that omission – together with a price tag of some £150m per year – hasn’t prevented Ed Miliband from pledging to do exactly that if Labour win in May.

If they genuinely believe in supporting businesses to win the race to the top, not get dragged into a race to the bottom, senior figures in both Labour and the Liberal Democrats should ensure their election manifesto includes a commitment to promptly lower the unfair dismissal qualifying period to 12 months. British bosses should not need more than 12 months to decide whether or not they’ve hired the right person. And the Institute of Directors should be told to go fish.

Rights At Work

“Workers and their families have always distrusted the law, and rightly so. It is not an instrument geared to our needs, and the people who administer it are unrepresentative, out of touch and antagonistic to our demands. Nevertheless, through political and industrial action workers have secured a set of legal rights which can be exploited.

Use the law only when industrial activity fails…Going to law is always a risky business-it takes time, it exposes individual workers to publicity and harassment, it hardens attitudes, and workers rarely win outright…You should only use the law when all prospect of solving an industrial problem through negotiation, conciliation or industrial action have vanished”.

Powerful words especially if you are a young, post-grad student about to start writing a thesis with the pretentious title “The Historical Development of Individual Employment Law”. They are from the first 2 paragraphs of “Rights At Work, A Workers Guide to Employment Law” published in 1979 by Pluto Press.  This book was found on the shelf of many union officials and quite a few labour lawyers, including myself in the 1980’s.

The words quoted above deliberately echo the famous opening words of “The Worker and the Law” by his teacher at the LSE, Bill Wedderburn

“Most workers want nothing more of the law than that it should leave them alone”

The author has just died, tragically young…HHJ Jeremy McMullen QC.  He was then an official in the General and Municipal Workers Union.  Subsequently he became a practising barrister, QC and Senior Judge at the EAT until 2013.  A pretty unique career path.

I leave it to others to write his obituary.  My purpose is to explore whether Jeremy was right and whether what he said above is still valid today.

In 1968 the Dagenham Fords Sewing Machinists (as in the film and now  musical with the earworm of a title tune, “Made in Dagenham”) went on strike for equal pay.  They wanted re-grading from unskilled B grade to semi-skilled grade C.  They settled for a wage rise to 100% of B grade but not the re-grading to grade C.  They didn’t get “equal pay” with their male colleagues.

In 1983, the Equal Value Amendment Regulations were introduced by a reluctant Tory government on the back of an adverse European Court judgment.  The first case brought to tribunal in 1984 was by the same Dagenham Fords Sewing Machinists making the same demand for re-grading. They argued their work was of equal value to that of the male semi-skilled grade C workers.  My firm was instructed by the union to act.  I was a lowly articled clerk taking notes at conferences and running errands.  Suffice to say the case was lost as was an appeal.  The women then went on strike in December 1984 and stayed out for 9 weeks closing down production. Arbitration through ACAS led to a ruling that they should be re-graded to grade C.

Ten years later, a union activist on the Underground was dismissed for allegedly assaulting a manager.  Now qualified as a solicitor, I was instructed by the union to take a claim to the tribunal for interim relief on the grounds of union membership and activity.  The case was won, mainly due to the brilliance of my client in the witness box.  London Transport refused to reinstate and so the tribunal made a continuation of contract of employment order (I remember being quoted in the Evening Standard, saying how outrageous it was that tax payers money was being wasted paying my client to tend his garden).  The Central Line then had a 1 day strike, the matter was referred to an ACAS conciliator and my client got his job back.  He is now Assistant General Secretary of the union.

At the Matrix Chambers Employment Seminar yesterday in a discussion about the increase in interim relief cases in whistleblowing claims, James Laddie QC asked me why there were so few trade union activities claims.  My recollection was that I probably ran on average 1 case per year but was only successful in one other case in 30 years (ironically where I instructed Jeremy).  The common factor in both cases was the performance of my client in the witness box compared with the employer’s witnesses.  Such claims are very hard to prove to the satisfaction of the tribunal and even if you win the employer doesn’t have to reinstate.  The employer also gets 2 bites of the cherry to get their evidence right as to why trade union membership or activities played no part in the decision to dismiss, “anyone is free to join a union” and “some of their best friends are union members”.  Tactically interim relief is often not the best option.

These are but 2 examples from my personal experience that seem to bear out Jeremy’s words. There could be many more.  Of course when Jeremy wrote those words we were in a very different economic world.  The labour market was completely different.  Union density is now 25.6% with 6.5m members.  In 1979 it was over 50% with 13.1m members.  For many workers today, the protection of strong union membership with terms and conditions set by collective bargaining, is never going to happen.  The law is the only protection of minimum standards of fairness and dignity at work.  The reality for many workers is insecurity and exploitation, with pay below the minimum wage, zero hours contracts, casualisation and unsafe workplaces.

Matters will only get worse if the Tories are elected in May with a working majority.  We are promised further restrictions in strike ballots with new minimum thresholds.  Osborne hinted at Davos there would be further changes to facilitate labour mobility (no fault dismissals a la Beecroft?)

And now you have to pay for the privilege of enforcing your rights.  If Jeremy was writing “Rights At Work” today he would add a sentence.  “And you have to pay a £1200 tax to enforce your rights”.

Passing new laws is not necessarily the answer.  What is?  I await your comments.

There is to be a Jeremy McMullen Memorial Fund to support female candidates for the Bar through work-experience and marshalling.  Donations can be made here.

HHJ Jeremy McMullen QC 1948-2015, trade union official, barrister, judge, friend, neighbour and occasional cycle to work companion, you will be missed but the debate about Rights at Work will continue.

How low can you go? The impact of ET fees on equality groups

With just seven weeks to go until Parliament is dissolved (at the end of March) for the general election campaign proper, and the Ministry of Injustice fully occupied trying to work out the correct burden of proof in criminal trials, it is now safe to assume that the Ministry’s long-promised review of ET fees is not going to happen this side of 7 May.

Having been busy “finalising” the scope and timing of the review as long ago as June 2014, by last month the Ministry was only “considering” these tricky concepts. And, while seemingly powerless Liberal Democrat ministers have since early 2014 used the review as a shield to cower behind whenever the issue of fees has been raised with them in parliament or in public, at a recent Working Families policy conference BIS minister Jo Swinson didn’t even try to do so when the impact of fees on parents’ ability to assert their flexible working rights was raised from the floor by Bronwyn McKenna of UNISON.

However, timing aside, finalising the scope of the review is not something that should have detained even the lowliest Ministry official for very long, as the job was done even before the fees regime came into force in July 2013. As previously noted elsewhere on this blog, a plan for the review was set out in an annex to the Ministry’s final regulatory impact assessment of the fees regime, issued in May 2012:

HMCTS will review ET and EAT fee rates to evaluate the impact of the introduction of a fee in this jurisdiction, and to compare against the behaviour predicted by our economic model. We will seek, wherever practicable, to align any proposals for improvements to the system with future reviews of fee levels. Any changes to fee levels will be made through legislation.

The review will seek to:

  • Ensure that those who use the ET system, and can afford to pay, do pay a fee as a contribution to the cost of administering their claim/appeal;
  • Ensure that the remissions system ensures that only those who can afford to pay a fee do so;
  • Ensure that the fee charging process is simple to understand and to administer;
  • Examine impacts on equality groups; and
  • Verify the amount of fee income raised against the models presented in the Impact Assessment and quantify any operational savings.

The first thing to say here is that “economic model” was a somewhat inflated way to describe the wild guesswork that made up most of the Ministry’s impact assessment. Whatever, since there is no evidence of workers using the ET system without paying a fee (or obtaining full remission), we can tick off the first bullet point. There is some evidence (and the Ministry appears to be sitting on further evidence) that the remissions system is doing very little indeed to protect access to justice, not least because the criteria and process for obtaining fee remission are anything but simple – the application form and guidance notes run to 30 A4 pages. And the Ministry has recently published figures on both fee income (less than predicted) and the associated operational savings (greater than predicted).

As for the “impacts on equality groups”, the substantial fall in the number of discrimination claims since July 2013 is well documented, with the figure for sex discrimination claims most commonly cited by MPs and others. But I thought it might be illuminative to apply the exercise I undertook in my last post – plotting claim numbers in the 12 months up to September 2014 as a percentage of the average over the 12-month period July 2013 to June 2013 – for the main jurisdictions. And this chart is the result.


Note that, apart from the black line, which is all cases (i.e. singles + multiple claimant cases), the figures used here are for jurisdictional claims, with an average of about 2.1 jurisdictional claims per case. And yes, age discrimination claims really did shoot off the scale in March and April 2014, presumably due to one or more large multiple claimant cases (or data entry errors by HMCTS).

So, apart from “urgh what a horrible mess”, what can we say about this chart? I hesitate to say too much, and would be very interested to hear the views of others (post a comment!), but I think it confirms what we already knew: that women have been big losers under the fees regime, with both sex discrimination and equal pay claims depressed markedly more than those in other jurisdictions.

That said, there has been something of a recovery in equal pay claims, and in claims for unauthorised deductions, since the introduction of Acas early conciliation in April 2014. I leave it to my clever long-lost twin, Michael Reed of FRU, to explain what that’s all about.

Is there any comfort to be drawn from this chart by, say, a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice? I guess such a person might note that the number of claims in most discrimination jurisdictions other than sex discrimination has been depressed a little less than in some of the other main jurisdictions, such as unfair dismissal and unauthorised deductions. But I really don’t think that’s anything to crow about. The number of claims in those jurisdictions has always been relatively small (and is now very small indeed), and at such a low level of claims we might expect a slightly lower price elasticity of demand in those jurisdictions. We can think of this as the ‘How low can you go’ theorem.

And of course, as shown by this excellent new report from Citizens Advice Scotland, every time a valid claim is not brought due to the cost of fees, an employer gets away with unlawful discrimination. What the chart really confirms is the shallowness of the Coalition government’s stated commitment to tackling the discrimination that remains all too rife in UK workplaces. In a new Government Equalities Office guide to tackling sex discrimination in relation to pay, for example, equalities minister Nicky Morgan states: “I want women to feel able to hold employers to account if they feel they are not being paid the same as their male colleagues.” Yet, as the guide quietly acknowledges, “if your employer still refuses to pay you equally,” then the only way to ‘hold your employer to account’ is to issue and purse an ET claim.

Limit access to that means of holding employers to account with ET fees, and the unequal pay that feeds the gender pay gap will take even longer to eliminate, to the detriment of all.


ET fees & ET judges: the regional winners and losers

Last week, as I was reading through the Hansard record of a House of Lords grand committee debate on the Small Business, Enterprise & Employment Bill, my eye was drawn to a comment made by shadow BIS minister Lord Young, during an exchange with BIS minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe on ET fees.

Surely there ought to be some concern about a situation where, in some regions, the number of employment tribunal [claims] has dropped by 80 per cent? Surely that is not an indication that 80 per cent of claims were vexatious. Does [the Minister] really not have any concern in this situation that fees are deterring people from bringing what could be completely fair and justifiable cases before an employment tribunal?

Shockingly but not surprisingly, as President Josiah Bartlet would say, the Minister turned out not to have any great concern, but Lord Young’s use of the qualifier “some regions” reminded me of a conversation I had a few weeks ago with an adviser to a shadow minister. The adviser said he had been told that, while claim/cases were sharply down in some ET regions, in other regions the employment judges were almost as busy as ever. I said that was news to me, and made a mental note to look into the matter. And the chart below is the result.

For this chart, I have focussed on single claims/cases, as that is (currently) the Ministry of Injustice’s favoured measure of ET receipts. And, for each ET region, I have charted the monthly number of new single claims/cases over the 12-month period October 2013 to September 2014, as a fraction of the average over the 12-month period July 2012 to June 2013. So, for example, where claims/cases are down by 60 per cent on the pre-fees average, they are plotted at 0.4 in the chart. All source data is from the Ministry’s quarterly tribunal statistics. There would be little point including the figures for all the claimants in multiple claimant cases in this exercise, and sadly the Ministry does not give a breakdown by region of the number of multiple claimant cases (which I would otherwise include).


I could be wrong (I often am), but to my mind the chart suggests either that the shadow minister’s adviser was misinformed, or that he or I somehow got the wrong end of the stick. For there is remarkably little variation between the ET regions, and all have followed much the same pattern over the period up to September 2014. Scotland has remained a little bit busier than the North East and Wales, it’s true, but not really busier enough to induce any work-shy Scottish ET judge to check out the Newcastle or Cardiff housing markets. Then again, the ET judges in Newcastle or Cardiff perhaps have a little more reason than most to be checking out the jobs market.

Interestingly, the chart suggests that, in March 2014, there was a bit of a rush to get claims issued before the coming into force of Acas early conciliation on 6 April, much as there was in July 2013 to beat fees.

The chart also confirms that Lord Young was somewhat over-egging it when he said that claims are down in “some regions” by 80 per cent. While Wales came very close, at the peak (or depth) of the Acas early conciliation ‘pause’ in May 2014, the truth is that no region has fallen quite that far (at least, not in terms of single claims/cases). However, by September 2014, single claims/cases were down by more than 60 per cent in all but one of the eight ET regions, the exception being Scotland, down a mere 59 per cent. And not even the nuttiest employer lobby group has ever claimed that, pre-fees, 60 per cent of all single claims were vexatious.

So, who are the real winners from the situation revealed by this chart? They are not the ET judges in Cardiff and Newcastle, but the dinosaur and rogue employers throughout England, Scotland and Wales who have breached the statutory employment rights of their workers with impunity. And the losers include not just the abused workers in question, but the great majority of law-abiding employers denied a level playing field. Just ask Tory MP Sir John Randall, who is closing his family business after being undercut by rivals lowering costs by employing staff on zero-hours contracts and “brutal” working conditions.