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Sunday, 25 February

A Bit of Good Work - Government And TUC Respond To Taylor Review

Millions of FM and agency workers and those in the 'gig' economy are to benefit from enhanced rights says the  government as it responds to The Taylor review of modern working practices.

The UK will become one of the first countries to address the challenges of the changing world of work in the modern economy.

Millions of workers to get new day-one rights with sick and holiday pay to be enforced for vulnerable workers for the first time.

 Business Secretary Greg Clark said that reforms will ensure employment law and practices keep pace with modern ways of working created by rapid technological change and that for the first time the government will be accountable for good quality work as well as quantity of jobs - a key ambition of the UK’s Industrial Strategy.

 

Good Work

The ‘Good Work plan’, which was revealed on Wednesday Feb 8, comes in response to the independent Taylor Review, published last year, which investigated what impact modern working practices are having on the world of work. The review found that the strength of the UK’s labour market is built on flexibility but that a clearer focus is needed on quality of work as well as the quantity of jobs.

 

To read the government response - Click Here

 

Delivering on the Prime Minister’s pledge to not just protect but build on workers’ rights, the government has set out proposals to ensure workers know their rights and receive the benefits and protections they are entitled to and that action is taken against employers who breach workers’ rights.

In some cases the government plans to go further than the review’s proposals, including:

  • Enforcing vulnerable workers’ holiday and sick pay for the first time.

  • Producing a list of day-one rights including holiday and sick pay entitlements and a new right to a payslip for all workers, including casual and zero-hour workers.

  • Right for all workers, not just zero-hour and agency, to request a more stable contract, providing more financial security for those on flexible contracts.

 

Prime Minister

On the launch of the Response, Theresa May said: "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. We must ensure that workers’ rights are always upheld. Our response to this report will mean tangible progress towards that goal.

"Matthew Taylor recognised that the UK’s employment law and tax law can fail to provide the clarity that employers and individuals need. The government is also launching a detailed consultation examining options, including new legislation, to make it easier for both the workforce and businesses to understand whether someone is an employee, worker or self-employed - determining which rights and tax obligations apply to them.

 

Business Secretary

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: "The Taylor Review said that the current approach to employment is successful but that we should build on that success, in preparing for future opportunities. We want 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.

"We will take forward Matthew Taylor’s recommendations and commit to pursuing the quality of work as well as number of jobs."

According to Clark, the government will seek to protect workers’ rights by:

  • Taking action to ensure unpaid interns are not doing the job of a worker,

  • Introducing a new naming and shaming scheme for employers who fail to pay employment tribunal awards.

  • Quadrupling employment tribunal fines (to £20,000) for employers showing malice, spite or gross oversight; and considering increasing penalties for employers who have previously lost similar cases.

 

Clark also said the government will ensure workers are paid fairly by:

  • Providing all 1.2 million agency workers with a clear breakdown of who pays them and any costs or charges deducted from their wages.

  • Asking the Low Pay Commission to consider the impact of higher minimum wage rates for workers on zero-hour contracts.

  • Considering repealing laws allowing agencies to employ workers on cheaper rates.

 

TUC comment

Commenting on the response to the Taylor Review of Modern Employment practices, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The government has taken a baby step – when it needed to take a giant leap.

“These plans won’t stop the hire and fire culture of zero-hours contracts or sham self-employment. And they will still leave 1.8 million workers excluded from key protections.

“Ministers need to up their game. At the very least they must end the Undercutters’ Charter that means agency workers can be paid less than permanent staff doing the same job.”

 

The government says it will also increase transparency in the business environment by:

  • Defining ‘working time’ for flexible workers who find jobs through apps or online so they know when they should be being paid.

  • Launching a task force with business to promote awareness and take-up of the right to request flexible working introduced in 2014.

  • Making sure new and expectant mothers know their workplace rights and raise awareness amongst employers of their obligations.

  • Launching a new campaign to encourage more working parents to share childcare through Shared Parental Leave – a right introduced in 2015.

 

Quality work will also be considered by the government when agreeing new sector deals with industry, encouraging employers to show how they are investing in their workforces to improve productivity.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will work with labour market experts, trade unions and the business community to measure the standards of quality work established in the Taylor Review.

 

TUC demands

The government has announced a consultation about whether to end the Swedish Derogation loophole, which allows agency workers to be paid less than permanent staff even when they do exactly the same job. The TUC describes this loophole as an Undercutters’ Charter for bad bosses.

The TUC wanted the government response to the Taylor Review to announce:

  • A ban on zero-hours contracts to ensure workers get guaranteed hours, allowing them to pay bills and plan childcare.

  • Equal pay for agency workers, by ending the Swedish Derogation which acts as an Undercutters’ Charter.

  • A crackdown on bogus self-employment and steps to ensure workers enjoy the same floor of rights as employees, including redundancy pay and family-friendly rights.

  • Allowing trade unions to access workplaces, to support workers most in need of representation.

  • Increased resources and powers for enforcement, so that dodgy employers have nowhere to hide.

 

No National Insurance changes

The government has acted on all but one of Matthew Taylor’s 53 recommendations. It rejected his proposals to reduce the difference between the National Insurance contributions of employees and the self-employed following the Budget of 2016 and subsequently have no plans to revisit the issue.

The government has acted on all but one of the joint Work and Pensions and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committees’ 11 recommendations. Their report ‘A framework for modern employment’ echoed many of the recommendations in the Taylor Review including greater clarity around employment status, better upfront information to workers and increased enforcement of employment rights.

 

Consultations

On February 7 the government also launched the following consultations to inform what the future of the UK workforce looks like:

Consultation on enforcement of employment rights recommendations

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/enforcement-of-employment-rights-recommendations

Consultation on agency workers recommendations

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/agency-workers-recommendations

Consultation on measures to increase transparency in the UK labour market

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/increasing-transparency-in-the-labour-market

Consultation on employment status

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/employment-status

 

Picture: The Good Work plan is pretty good according to the government but not quite so good according to the TUC

Article written by Brian Shillibeer

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