In response to Matthew Taylor’s Independent Review of Employment Practices in the Modern Economy in 2017, the government have revealed this week their new Good Work Plan that recommends new rights for the UK’s flexible workforce.
Alongside further consultations on the future of the UK workforce, the government will also be looking to tighten penalties against firms that breach contracts or mistreat their workers. The document highlights significant reforms to strengthen worker rights from their first day in a job, guaranteeing that all workers – such as casual, zero-hour contracts and agency workers – receive basic rights such as payslips, holiday and sick pay as well as requesting a more stable employment contract.
Taking Taylor’s recommendations into consideration, there will now be four more consultations focusing on:
- Employment Status
- Agency Workers
- Increasing Transparency
Prime Minister, Theresa May has said that they “recognise the world of work is changing and we have to make sure we have the right structures in place to reflect those changes”.
Several key proposals included in the Good Work Plan will have a direct effect on contracting professionals and other temporary workers. The Good Work Plan will involve:
- A checklist of ‘day-one’ rights that include sick & holiday pay entitlements and a new right for all workers to receive a payslip
- Our 1.2 million UK agency workforce are to be supplied with a transparent overview of how payments are made as well as the costs/charges that may be deducted
- Consideration into repealing laws that allow agencies to hire workers on lower rates through Swedish Derogations contracts
- The introduction of a new name scheme for employers failing to pay at an employment tribunal. Those who show malice, spite or gross oversight will be fined £20,000 – quadruple the current penalty. There is also consideration to increase penalties for employers who’ve previously lost cases in the past.
- The consideration to increase the minimum wage rates for workers on zero-hour contracts.
Business Secretary, Greg Clark, “wants to embrace new ways of working, and to do so we will be one of the first countries to prepare our employment rules to reflect the new challenges” and the contracting industry has responded well to this announcement
Tania Bowers, general counsel at APSCo has said that they are “supportive” of the government’s desire for clarity. The focus on establishing a worker’s employment status is also a key requirement for the supply of independent contractors. It is already a broad and complex topic and there should be a further differentiation between employed, workers and self-employed.
Both FSCA’s Julia Kermode and Kevin Green at REC have also welcomed the consultations as the industry requires “more consistency and transparency” around agency workers with a clear breakdown of payments and the costs involved.
Over the forthcoming months, the government intend to investigate these complex issues and the impact of the reforms on business as well as the consideration of the further development of online tools and more discussions regarding self-employment.
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