Unions and the Government are divided on the impact of the Good Work Plan, the Govt’s long awaited response to the Taylor Review which is intended to increase rights of the 1.8 million working in the “Gig Economy”.
Recommended changes to reflect “modern working practices” are to include:
- giving all workers holiday and sick pay rights from day one;
- giving flexible workers the right to request more stable contracts;
- giving all workers the right to demand a payslip;
- Defining “working time” for flexible workers who find jobs through apps or online so they know when they should be being paid;
- Launching a new campaign to encourage more working parents to share childcare through shared parental leave, a right introduced in 2015; and
- Quadrupling fines in the employment tribunal for aggravated disobedience (up to (£25,000).
The Low Pay Commission will be asked to consider a higher minimum wage for Gig Economy workers and the Govt proposes a review of legislation allowing agency workers to be paid at low rates.
The response itself sets out an intention to move forward with 52 of the 53 recommendations made by the Taylor Review, but with four consultations launched any real change is likely to be some way off. The consultation on employment status may result in some tinkering with the current position, but the three tier approach to status will be retained so significant change seems unlikely.
The TUC have already confirmed their disappointment that the proposals fall short and many may see this as a lost opportunity. For now, “employers” of Gig Economy workers should be making contingencies against holiday and sick pay rights and rethinking their business model, as plans to increase the cost of labour for this group of individuals are afoot.
Whether this means these employers will instead put them onto permanent contracts for economic reasons rather than zero hours contracts, or continue to treat them as the self-employed and risk claims will remain to be seen. What is certain, is that 1.8 million individuals will be expecting some improvements imminently as the light has been switched on, albeit a dim one, at the end of the tunnel.