A chat with… Sejal Raja
Tell us about your own area of legal practice?
I act for employers and senior executives in relation to the full spectrum of employment law issues. Workplace equality and tricky disciplinary and grievance issues are particular areas of interest for me. I regularly appear in the Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal.
My team’s client base is diverse. We operate across a range of sectors including health and social care, care homes, GP practices, NHS Trusts, hotels and leisure, manufacturing, property, financial services and technology.
A niche area of practice is my team’s expertise in the relatively new and evolving IR35 rules and employee status matters. We support clients in the Tax Tribunal and Upper Tribunal and I am advising several clients to make sure that they are ready for the upcoming changes to the rules in April 2021.
I also advise on data protection and GDPR-related issues and work with colleagues in our private client team advising high-net-worth individuals with employment issues.
The pandemic has affected employment law in many ways with the furlough scheme, Covid risk assessments etc. How do you see 2021 developing in your field?
The last year has been a roller coaster in terms of the changes that employment lawyers have had to contend with. You are absolutely right; getting to grips with the furlough scheme and the constant and often conflicting advice has certainly kept me on my toes!
The end of the first lockdown came with further employment law challenges. Employers had to undertake risk assessments to ensure that their workplaces are Covid-safe, and many also had to face difficult cost cutting exercises. 2021 will bring further challenges. We are already seeing an increase in the number of whistleblowing and health and safety claims and we may even see a test case to determine whether someone’s belief not to have a vaccine amounts to a philosophical belief.
Do you have any “top tips” for HR teams in these testing times?
I am sure HR teams have struggled and I do not think they get the credit they deserve. My tips are to keep listening to staff concerns and to keep an open-mind. Most importantly health and well-being of staff should stay at the top of the agenda.
Tell us something we might not know about you…
This is a difficult one, I played volleyball for Brent in the London Youth Games.
Also, I am not sure that many people know that I was based in Fort Bragg in North Carolina at the Judge Advocates General’s Office on behalf of the Ministry of Defence. This was 25 years ago – it was certainly an interesting experience being a woman of colour in those times….
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