Government addresses flexible workers’ rights

The government has today (February 7th, 2018) set out its intent to bring greater clarity and rights to flexible workers.

The move comes on the back of last year’s Taylor Review, and is part of the government’s plan to build an economy that “works for everyone”.

The proposal is built on three fundamental areas: protection, pay and transparency.

As well as addressing the Taylor Review’s recommendations, the government plans to go one step further by:

  • Enforcing holiday and sick pay for vulnerable workers;
  • Compiling a list of day one rights (like holiday and sick pay entitlements, and a new right to payslips for all workers) and ensuring they’re being delivered to all workers – including casual and zero-hour workers; and
  • Providing all workers with the right to request a more stable contract – this would provide those on flexible contacts with greater financial security.

Here’s a breakdown of the other commitments included in the ‘Good Work Plan’:

Protection

In its release, the government said it plans to protect employees by:

  • Making sure unpaid interns aren’t doing the duties of a worker;
  • Starting a new scheme whereby it names and shames employers who don’t pay employment tribunal awards; and
  • Increasing the penalty enforcement fine to £20,000 (which is four times the current rate) for employers who display malice, spite or gross oversight. It’s also considering increasing the penalty for employers who’ve already lost similar cases.

Pay

With regards to pay, the government wants to make sure all workers are paid fairly by:

  • Providing all agency workers with a clear breakdown of who pays them, as well as any costs or charges that are deducted from their pay;
  • Asking the Low Pay Commission to consider the impact higher minimum wage rates could have on zero-hour contract workers; and
  • Considering repealing laws that mean agencies can employ workers on cheaper rates.

Transparency

In addition, the government will aim to increase transparency in the business world by:

  • Setting out definitions of ‘working time’ for flexible workers who find jobs online or on apps, so that applicants know when they should be being paid;
  • Promoting employees’ right to flexible working requests;
  • Ensuring new and expectant mothers are aware of their workplace rights and their employer’s obligations; and
  • Campaigning to encourage more working parents to share childcare though Shared Parental Leave.

Prime Minister Theresa May spoke of the plan: “We recognise the world of work is changing and we have to make sure we have the right structures in place to reflect those changes, enhancing the UK’s position as one of the best places in the world to do business.

“Our response to this report will mean tangible progress towards that goal as we build an economy that works for everyone.”

A word from us

Dave Hewitt, Head of Employment Law Information at Citation, commented: “Movement towards more substantial employment rights for workers was an inevitable consequence of the Taylor Review, but real progress in this area could be slow – particularly given the government’s pre-occupation with Brexit.”

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