Government response on worker rights is not all it’s cracked up to be
Reading today’s newspaper headlines, you would be forgiven for thinking that the Government is planning significant changes to workplace practices to “enhance employment rights for millions of workers”.
This is not the case. What the Government is actually proposing in its Good Work Plan (the Government’s response to Good Work: the Taylor review of modern working practices) is disappointing as it fails to provide the clarity so desperately needed by employers and workers on the big issue of worker status and the difficulties arising out of changes in working practices, in particular the increase in gig economy working.
Instead, the Government will launch a consultation on this as well as three other areas (i.e. Taylor’s recommendations on enforcement of employment rights; agency workers; and measures to increase transparency in the UK labour market) meaning it could be months before employers and workers have any clarity.
Equally disappointing is the fact that many of the Government’s so-called “new rights” involve enforcing and promoting existing rights and so are not new rights at all. For example, the Government plans to:
• Enforce vulnerable workers’ holiday and sick pay.
• Introduce a new naming and shaming scheme for employers who fail to pay employment tribunal awards.
• Provide a list of day-one rights including holiday and sick pay entitlements.
• Promote awareness and take-up of the right to request flexible working.
• Make sure new and expectant mothers know their workplace rights.
• Encourage more working parents to share childcare through Shared Parental Leave.
Where new rights are to be introduced, they are hardly ground-breaking (e.g. a new right to a payslip for all workers) or it is unclear what it means in practice (e.g. a right for all workers, not just zero-hour and agency workers, to request a “more stable contract”).
All in all, the Government’s response fails to deliver despite what is being reported in the press. So, it seems that the moral of the story is not to believe everything you read in the papers!