UK: Government responds to Taylor Review with 'Good Work plan'

Greg Clark

A second consultation proposes a new set of "day one" rights for all those classed as workers, including casual and zero-hours workers.

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".

Ms May 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".

The prime minister has announced a list of proposals, which includes giving all workers the right to request more stable contracts.

Although the government says that almost all the recommendations of the Taylor review will be adopted, unions have said the plan will still leave 1.8 million workers without key rights.

It also pledged to introduce a new "naming scheme for employers that fail to pay employment tribunal awards" and quadruple employment tribunal fines for employers "showing malice, spite or gross oversight" to £20,000. The papers cover enforcement of employment rights, particularly on behalf of low-paid and other "vulnerable" workers; changes to clarify the law around employment status; potential changes to the rules around agency workers; and measures to increase transparency in the United Kingdom labour market.

Agency workers recommendations. The government is considering repealing laws allowing agencies to employ workers on cheaper rates (known as the "Swedish derogation"). Indeed, it's been the core issue in numerous employment tribunals over the past few years.

To "raise transparency in the business environment", the BEIS promised to define "working time" for flexible workers who find jobs through apps or the internet - so that they know when they should be being paid.

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All 1.2 million agency workers will have a breakdown of who pays them and any deductions from their wages.

"We've been pleased with the level of engagement - not just from government but from employers and employee representative organisations across the United Kingdom and politicians across the political divide - since the publication of our findings", said employment expert Diane Nicol of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, who was appointed to the Taylor review.

But the TUC's general secretary, Frances O'Grady said: "The government has taken a baby step when it needed to take a giant leap".

Overall, however, "the government response to Taylor will be a disappointment for those hoping for real and immediate change in the law", said Sarah Ozanne, employment lawyer at CMS.

The government's plan will make sure that everyone knows what they're entitled to when they start working for a company and the rules will now be enforced by HMRC, so people actually get what they're owed.

"It is right, therefore, that Government proceeds cautiously by consulting widely". "At the very least they must end the undercutters' charter that means agency workers can be paid less than permanent staff doing the same job". The BEIS said this would offer financial security for those on "flexible" contracts. Now the government has responded by pledging to boost the rights of the people working for startups like Uber and Deliveroo.

"Labour warned that the review did not go far enough, and yet the Government has failed to adequately meet even the most basic of recommendations".

Shadow business minister Rebecca Long-Bailey said: "Like so much from this government, today's response is just more words, with no real action to improve the lives of the millions of people in insecure work".

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