Government publishes Good Work Plan which it says aims to address rights issues for workers on insecure contracts.
The government has published a set of workplace reforms, including a right to request guaranteed hours, which it says will meet the challenges of the changing world of work.
The announcement takes forward 51 of the 53 recommendations made by Matthew Taylor in his recent review of Modern Working Practices. The government says some of the reforms go further than the Taylor report.
The main planks of the Good Work Plan include “a right for all workers, not just zero-hour and agency, to request a more predictable and stable contract, providing more financial security for those on flexible contracts” and a day one list of rights, including holiday, parental leave and sick pay entitlements and a new right to a payslip for all workers, including casual and zero-hour workers.
They come as a Low Pay Commission report on ‘one-sided flexibility’ recommends a right for zero hours workers to switch to a contract that accurately reflected the hours they work, for reasonable notice of a work schedule, compensation for shift cancellation and a written statement of rights. The Government has said it will consider the recommendations.
The Government says it is also seeking to clarify employment status and protect rights. It will bring forward proposals in early 2019 for a single enforcement body to ensure vulnerable workers are better protected.
It promises more resource for the Employment Agency Standards (EAS) Inspectorate and new powers to impose penalties for employers who breach employment agency legislation like non-payment of wages.
It will consult on Salaried Hours Work and Salary Sacrifice Schemes to ensure National Minimum Wage rules do not inadvertently penalise employers and bring forward legislation to enforce holiday pay for vulnerable workers as well as consulting on the recommendations on non-compliance in supply chains.
The TUC welcomed some of the aspects of the Good Work Plan, such as the action on loopholes concerning agency workers’ pay, but said others, such as the right to request guaranteed hours were too weak. It said zero hours workers needed legislation enabling them to unionise to better fight for their rights.IPSE, the freelancers’ organisation, expressed cautious support.
Andy Chamberlain, IPSE’s Deputy Policy Director, said: “We are glad the message appears to be getting through that for most people, gig work is good work.
The overwhelming majority of people actively choose to be self-employed because they value the flexibility of being their own boss.“We are glad the Government has listened to IPSE and have signalled they will introduce legislation to simplify employment status.
The devil, of course, will be in the detail, and the Government must ensure it doesn’t legislate people out of self-employment against their will.“IPSE will strongly resist any attempt to push all gig workers into the worker category, as this deprives people of the flexibility of being their own boss.
”Meanwhile, the Institute of Employment Studies expressed concerns about the right to request guaranteed hours and said it needed strengthening along the lines of the Low Pay Commission’s recommendations. It called for consultation on such measures to be speeded up and for extra support for training for those in the gig economy.
Tony Wilson, director of the IES, said: “Today’s plan is also almost entirely silent on how workers in the gig economy could be supported to upskill and retrain. We know that those in temporary work and the self-employed are far less likely to access training, while the new National Retraining Scheme and apprenticeships are very unlikely to benefit these workers.”
Working Families said the Plan was “a step in the right direction” and called for workers to have more rights to parental leave.
Jane van Zyl, Chief Executive of Working Families, said: “Because of their employment status, parents who are designated ‘workers’ are not entitled to the same family-friendly rights as employees: rights like maternity, paternity and adoption leave and pay; the right to request flexible working; and time off for emergencies…Whilst the government promotes this three-tier employment contract framework, it should be moving employers toward the presumption that a person is an employee, and to achieving a level playing field on parental rights across employment contracts.
A written statement of rights is all very well, but there need to be meaningful parental rights available to parents in insecure work, to include in them.”