Meet The Team:
Sarah Edwards – Senior Employment Law Adviser at Howarths
What’s the biggest development you’ve seen in the legal world during your career?
The legal industry’s willingness to implement more flexible and family friendly working practices, including part time working, home working and flexy time. This has been made possible through the developments in technology and a changing social agenda.
What law would you like to see changed and why?
I’d like to see developments in the area of family leave, pay and rights to protect pregnant women and improve the working lives of parents with young children. This would include stronger workplace protection for pregnant women, increased levels of pay during periods of family leave, increased financial support for childcare in early years and increased flexibility in working practices to support families juggling work and home life commitments. The law needs to keep pace with social developments and changes in familial support structures to ensure that individuals remain able to contribute and progress in their working lives whilst continuing to meet their childcare commitments.
What is the most exciting work you’ve ever done?
Employment Tribunal litigation is always fairly exciting, particularly when dealing with discrimination claims. However, the best piece of litigation I have been involved with was the case of Fulton v Bear Scotland, which is one of the leading cases on the calculation of holiday pay. It was exciting to be working on something that was clarifying and developing legal rights rather than just applying settled rules to a set of facts.
Who in the legal world do you most admire and why?
My interpretation of ‘the legal world’ includes people whose work has an influence on or implications for the legal world. As such, I most admire Baroness Ruth Hunt of Bethnal Green, former CEO of Stonewall. She has spearheaded campaigns for trans equality, to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic abuse in schools, build inclusive environments for LGBTQ+ people in sport and schools through the Rainbow Laces campaign and to build inclusive work environments for members of the LGBTQ+ community. She now sits in the House of Lords and continues to canvass for LGBTQ+ equality. I admire her because, despite opposition, she has brought about social and cultural change for the LGBTQ+ community.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the profession?
Listen to what’s going on around you. You can learn a lot from colleagues with different levels of experience and knowledge.