The government is today setting out what it describes as the biggest package of workplace reforms for over twenty years.
Intended to tackle the changing ways of work especially around the so called gig economy, the reforms follow the publication of the Matthew Taylor review of Modern Working Practices.
The new legislation introduced today includes a closing a loophole by repealing the Swedish derogation, which currently allows agency workers to be employed on cheaper rates than permanent counterparts
It will extend the right to a day one written statement of rights to workers, going further to include detail on rights such as eligibility for sick leave and pay and details of other types of paid leave, such as maternity and paternity leave and quadruple maximum employment tribunal fines for employers who are demonstrated to have shown malice, spite or gross oversight from £5,000 to £20,000
The legislation will extend the holiday pay reference period from 12 to 52 weeks, ensuring those in seasonal or atypical roles get the paid time off they are entitled to and lower the threshold required for a request to set up Information and Consultation arrangements from 10% to 2%.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said:
The UK has a labour market of which we can be proud. We have the highest employment rate on record, increased participation amongst historically under-represent groups and wages growing at their fastest pace in almost a decade.
This success has been underpinned by policies and employment law which strikes an effective balance between flexibility and worker protections but the world of work is changing, bringing new opportunities for innovative businesses and new business models to flourish, creating jobs across the country and boosting our economy. With new opportunity also comes new challenges and that is why the government asked Matthew Taylor to carry out this first of a kind review, to ensure the UK continues to lead the world, through our modern Industrial Strategy, in supporting innovative businesses whilst ensuring workers have the rights they deserve.
Rebecca Long Bailey MP, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary,commenting on the Government’s workers rights proposals, said:
“This Conservative Government has failed to support workers. Instead it has increased tribunal fees, attacked the health and safety of workers, introduced the draconian Trade Union Act and presided over the lowest wage growth in a decade.
“These proposals do nothing to tackle the growing number of people on precarious zero hours contracts and with their botched Brexit deal threatening jobs and rights they’ll have to do a lot more than this to reassure workers.”
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady welcomed some reforms such as the decision to scrap the so-called “agency worker loophole”.
However, Grady said the government had missed an opportunity to bolster the rights of zero-hours workers. “These reforms as a whole won’t shift the balance of power in the gig economy. Unless unions get the right to organise and bargain for workers in places like Uber and Amazon, too many working people will continue to be treated like disposable labour.