Government announcement on employment rights

On 7 February 2018 the Government set out its response to the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices, which was published in July 2017. The Taylor Review recognised that the UK’s employment law and tax law sometimes fails to provide the clarity that employers and individuals need. The Government’s proposals in response aim 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 Taylor Review’s proposals, including:

  • enforcing vulnerable workers’ holiday and sick pay for the first time;
  • 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;
  • a 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.

The Government has also launched 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. Another three consultations were launched at the same time regarding transparency in the labour market, agency workers and enforcement of employment rights.

The Government aims to protect workers’ rights by:

  • taking further action to ensure unpaid interns are not doing the job of a worker;
  • introducing a new naming scheme for employers who fail to pay employment tribunal awards;
  • quadrupling employment tribunal fines for employers showing malice, spite or gross oversight to £20,000 and considering increasing penalties for employers who have previously lost similar cases.

The Government aims to 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 lower rates.

The Government aims to 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.

The Government’s full response can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/fil... . The four consultations launched in relation to the response can be found as follows:

If you would like further details on how we can assist you, please get in touch with a member of our employment solicitors team on 01702 338338 or 01277 500123. Our services for employers include a monthly retainer scheme, whereby all employment advice is covered for a low monthly fee. Alternatively we are often able to carry out work such as contract reviews or letter preparation for a fixed fee.

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