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Government’s ‘Good Work plan’ enshrines rights for workers

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The government has issued its response to the Taylor Review, promising an improvement in employment rights for millions of people in ‘insecure work’, such as the gig economy.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said that while employment rights were enshrined in law, often workers didn’t have the ability to force companies to respect those rights.

The government’s ‘Good Work plan’ focuses on ‘quality of work as well as the quantity of jobs’. The Taylor review investigated what impact modern working practices are having on the world of work, saying all work in the UK economy should be “fair and decent”.

The new plan will:

  • enforce vulnerable workers’ holiday and sick pay
  • enshrine 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
  • give rights 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 said it will also take steps to make sure flexible workers are aware of their rights. It also asked the Low Pay Commission to consider a higher minimum wage for workers on zero-hour contracts.

Among the plan’s specific action points was a commitment to ensure unpaid interns are not doing the job of a worker, a new naming scheme for employers who fail to pay employment tribunal awards and a quadrupling of employment tribunal fines for employers showing malice, spite or gross oversight to £20,000.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, welcomed the plan: “Employment rights are only as good as people’s ability to enforce them, so we welcome the government’s plans to help people recover the holiday and sick pay they’re due.

“By taking on responsibility for enforcing these pay rights, the government is paving the way for unscrupulous bosses to be investigated and fined if they don’t play by the rules – and crucially means workers aren’t left to do all the heavy lifting on their own.”

However, she said the rules still left hundreds of thousands of people in limbo with respect to their rights. She added: “With their employment status a grey area, people remain at risk of being taken advantage of by unscrupulous bosses.”

Matthew Taylor, the author of the original review, called the government’s response “substantive and comprehensive” and said it would “make a difference to the lives of the most vulnerable workers.”

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