The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has proposed a number of day-one rights for all workers, including the right to holiday and sick pay and the right to receive a payslip.
The list of day-one rights, which will apply for all workers including casual and zero-hours workers, is one of the reforms proposed in the government’s Good Work plan report, which has been published in response to the Taylor Review. The independent Taylor Review, published in July 2017, investigated the impacts modern working practices are having on the world of work.
The suggested reforms form part of the government’s Industrial Strategy, which aims to help businesses create better, higher-paying jobs across the UK.
The report also proposes that vulnerable workers’ holiday and sick pay is enforced, and that all workers, not just zero-hours and agency staff, have the right to request a more stable contract in order to provide more financial security for individuals on flexible contracts.
Measures designed to help protect workers’ rights have also been listed in the report. This includes taking action to ensure unpaid interns are not doing the job of a worker, introducing a new naming scheme for employers which fail to pay employment tribunal awards and quadrupling employment tribunal fines for employers showing malice, spite or gross oversight to £20,000. The government will further consider whether to increase penalties for employers who have previously lost similar cases.
The report further details how the government will ensure all workers are paid fairly, starting by providing agency workers with a clear breakdown of who pays them and listing any costs or charges that have been deducted from their wages. The government will also ask the Low Pay Commission to consider the impact of higher minimum wage rates for workers on zero-hours contracts and consider repealing laws allowing agencies to employ workers at a cheaper rate.
In line with the report, the government also plans to launch a consultation to examine options, such as new legislation, which will 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 each category.
The government aims to increase transparency in the business sector around this topic too by defining working time for flexible workers who find jobs through apps or online means so they know when they should be being paid, making sure new and expectant mothers know their workplace rights and raise awareness among employers about their obligations regarding maternity leave, and by launching a new campaign to encourage more parents to share childcare using shared parental leave. The government will also launch a task force to promote awareness and take-up of the right to request flexible working.
The quality of work will also be considered as part of the proposed reforms.
Theresa May, prime minister, 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, enhancing the UK’s position as one of the best places in the world to do business.
“We are proud to have record levels of employment in this country but we must also ensure that workers’ rights are always upheld. Our response to this report will mean tangible progress towards that goal as we build an economy that works for everyone.”
Greg Clark, business secretary, added: “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 [the] number of jobs. The Good Work plan puts the UK at the front of the pack in addressing the challenges and opportunities of modern ways of working; it is an important part of the Industrial Strategy and will enhance our business environment as one of the best places to work, invest and do business.”
Crowley Woodford, employment partner at Ashurst, said: “With the Good Work plan the government has dealt another blow to the gig economy by significantly enhancing the rights of workers in that sector. This is yet another step in a clear direction of travel by both the courts and parliament to erode the distinction between workers’ rights and employees’ rights.”
Sarah Jackson, chief executive officer at Working Families, said: “We welcome the commitment that the government has made to increasing quality work. Written statements of day-one rights should include information about parental rights so that the UK’s 11 million working mothers and fathers are never in the dark about what they are entitled to. It is only rogue employers who have anything to fear from the proposals to ensure those found to have flouted the law at a tribunal pay the price.”
Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD), added: “The Taylor Review shone a light on some of the biggest issues facing our modern labour market, and it is good to see that the government has committed to taking action to address almost all of its recommendations. The UK has a flexible labour market that broadly strikes the right balance between providing flexibility for employers and employment protections for individuals but we should always look to tackle abuses of employment rights, provide greater clarity on employers’ obligations and close loopholes wherever we can. The government response also rightly places more attention on the enforcement of existing rights which can help ensure that bad practice will be stamped out wherever it exists.
“We particularly welcome the clear commitment to enshrining the principles of good work and ensuring that they are measured on an ongoing basis. Work can and should be a force for good, and the measures announced today, alongside the ongoing consultation with business, will help to ensure that these principles are reflected across the economy. We look forward to working with government to help develop these measures and ensure they capture the wide range of factors that make up good work. A clearer understanding of the elements that create good work will support efforts to boost individual wellbeing and create more inclusive and productive workplaces.
“The CIPD has long called for both workers and employees to be eligible for written terms and conditions of employment, so we fully support the adoption of the right to receive a payslip and terms and conditions from day one. Improving clarity and transparency of people’s contractual terms and conditions from day one can help to ensure that people’s rights are respected in the workplace and reduce abuses.”