December 4, 2016

Employment Perspective Advent 2016 – Part 1

December is here and Christmas is on its way; oh yes it is.

Advent 2016 – Part 1

For many Christmas is a time for a break from work, a time for entertainment. Pantomime; love it or hate it’s a part of the traditional Christmas scene. Wherever you are in the UK there is a pantomime being performed near you, professional or amateur. They are there to entertain children with slapstick and bad jokes. There are topical references and mild innuendo aimed at the adults. All wrapped up in a fairy tale based story, from Cinderella to Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty to Mother Goose.

But what do pantomimes have in common with each other and what have they got to do with business and employment law? It might be stretching the allusion a bit but that’s what pantomimes do; that’s the beauty of the beast.

All pantomimes have stock characters, people who exhibit particular traits. From story to story and business to business they appear, just with different names, different roles and different makeup.  So when it comes to looking at your colleagues, the boss or your employees (or even yourself) do you see a panto character bursting to get out? Through December we’ll take a look the cast in turn.

Play the panto game BUT don’t let it get out of hand or offend. Panto on the stage is there to entertain but thinking about real people in this way may highlight serious issues. Don’t tarnish the tinsel or burst the balloon by pointing the finger; it might be behind you! So places please….,

The Principal Boy.

In most pantomimes he’s the romantic lead, the hero. But what’s that you say? It’s not a boy it’s a girl dressed up. Very often that’s the case though from time to time, perhaps as leading men fancy the role, the men too have taken to the tights and doublet. Panto’s full of cross dressing and the defining and blurring of gender stereotypes. But with 21st century eyes we should be considering women in the leading role without them dressing up as men. Mrs May and Mrs Merkal (not Ms Brasier and Ms Kasner) are significant world leaders but do they have to pretend to be a man to do the job? The big shoulder pads of the 1980s have gone but do the women players in your work world that have to put on masculine clothes (physical or mental) to take the lead?

When it comes to men playing the lead in most businesses, are they are still doing it as the suave sophisticate or a red bloodied male. Do they have to be a traditional tough guy to be the office hero? Heroes can come in many shapes and sizes. The players who have found the strength to speak out about child abuse in the very matcho business surrounding football are real heroes; who would doubt it.

Pantomime is traditionally seasonal; not a long term career. Several of its leading male characters like Aladdin, Jack or Dick are lowly paid or have no job at all. Many businesses need people to do seasonal work whether they call them called casuals or temps. The pantomime heroes have to rely on their good looks, luck and magic to make a difference to their lives. In practice this probably isn’t a course guaranteed to bring success to the rest of us. However as with the Uber drivers the Employment Tribunal will identify many of these people at least as workers and thus entitled the minimum wage, maximum working hours and paid holidays. So even if they are not running a flying carpet service many of those in the gig economy may find claims taking off.

Next time – the leading lady

Oh and apologies in advance for more terrible pantomime puns!

Edit 45b Part 1. This newsletter looks at new cases and employment related matters, which are likely to be of interest to many. However specialist advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking action based on comments in this newsletter, which is only intended as a brief note. For more information or if you have specific concerns phone me on 01233 714055 or To unsubscribe to our newsletters e-mail