The government has this morning issued a press release announcing its response to the independent Taylor Review published last year (see our summary here). The government has given a general commitment to pursue quality of work in addition to number of jobs, but specific proposals are largely limited to better information about and enforcement of rights; decisions on substantive changes to rights have mostly been deferred for yet more consultation. The press release only mentions firm proposals for the following new rights:
- a new right for all workers (not just zero-hour and agency workers) to request a “more stable contract, providing more financial security for those on flexible contracts”. While the government has stated this is intended to go further than the Taylor Review proposal (which suggested a right for those on zero hours contracts to request fixed hours), it is unclear exactly what type of enhanced stability it has in mind.
- defining ‘working time’ for flexible workers who finds jobs through apps or online, giving the right to be paid for this time.
The government also intends to ask the Low Pay Commission to consider the likely impact of higher minimum wage rates for workers on zero-hours contracts.
Four consultations are to be launched on:
- Employment status. The government appears not to have come down in favour of any particular option here, instead stating that the consultation will examine “options, including possible new legislation, to make it easier for both the workforce and businesses to understand” what their employment status and rights are. This will NOT include any proposal to change the rates of tax or NICs for employees or the self-employed.
- Enforcement of employment rights recommendations. The government suggests that this will encompass the introduction of enforcement for ‘vulnerable workers’ holiday and sick pay’, ensuring unpaid interns are not doing the job of a worker, naming employers who fail to pay employment tribunal awards, quadrupling employment tribunal fines on employers who show malice, spite or gross oversight to £20,000, and possibly increasing penalties for employers who have previously lost similar tribunal cases.
- Agency workers recommendations. The government is considering repealing laws allowing agencies to employ workers on cheaper rates (known as the ‘Swedish derogation’). It proposes giving agency workers the right to a clear breakdown of who pays them and any deductions from wages.
- Measures to increase transparency in the UK labour market. The government proposes giving all workers 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-hours workers). The press release also mentions campaigns to increase awareness and take-up of the right to request flexible working, maternity rights, and shared parental leave rights.
No timings for these consultations have been given.