The government has responded to a wide-scale review of employment practices by recommending ‘day one rights’ for workers in the so-called ‘gig economy’, including sick-pay and holiday entitlement, as well as proposals to help zero-hour and agency workers request stable contracts.
The Good Work Plan, published today, is in response to last year’s review of modern employment practices by political strategist Matthew Taylor.
In his review, published last July, Taylor recommended that ‘worker’ status be renamed to ‘dependent contractor’ in order to ‘distinguish workers from those who are legitimately self-employed’. Taylor, chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, also set out set out seven principles for ‘fair and decent’ work to ensure people are not stuck at the living wage minimum or facing insecurity.
The government said it will act on all but one of Taylor’s 53 recommendations. A proposal to reduce the difference between the National Insurance contributions of employees and the self-employed was rejected last year and the government said there are no plans to revisit the issue.
Four consultation papers will be published but the impacts of reforms on businesses will need to be assessed before any changes are made. The government had been expected to publish its response by the end of last year but plans were put on hold.
According to the government, defining ‘working time’ for workers who find jobs through apps or online will help tackle issues posed by the ‘gig economy’ and ensure that they know when they will be paid.
Law Society president Joe Egan welcomed the announcement but said the government must take action. ’We have seen far too many times in the past year how a lack of clarity around employment rights and the power imbalance in workplaces leaves workers and employees vulnerable to harm. Matthew Taylor’s report recognised these issues and we are pleased the government has taken it seriously and said they will act on the vast majority of his recommendations.’
He added: The urgent need for change has been highlighted by the sad death of Don Lane [a gig economy worker], ongoing court cases around employee rights and the disturbing reports of events at the President’s Club dinner. We appreciate the government wants to get the details right, but there is bipartisan support for change and action on any consultations must follow soon.’
Business secretary Greg Clark said: ‘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 number of jobs.’