Casual workers are to be given more rights after a report into modern employment practices has been published.
The report came following a series of high-profile court cases concerning the lack of protection for workers in the gig economy. Current rules mean firms don’t have to pay national insurance, holiday or sick pay for self-employed workers or those on zero hour contracts.
The Taylor Review recommends a range of measures to improve fairness amongst all workers within the UK economy, including a raft of changes to key employment laws to reflect modern business models.
The review has already faced criticism though, on the grounds that it does not go far enough to improve the rights of gig economy workers.
The term ‘gig economy’ has become widely used to describe a labour market characterised by short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs, and is synonymous with app-based companies such as Deliveroo and Uber.
Currently, these workers are treated as being self-employed, meaning they receive no employment benefits, such as sick pay or holiday pay, and in many cases are earning below the national minimum wage.
Fair and decent work
The review lays out seven principles for fair and decent work in Britain, recommending a crackdown on insecure and exploitative conditions, but has rejected calls to recommend the Government bans zero hour contracts, as findings show it’s ‘clear that many people work zero hours choose to work that way because it suits them’.
It also proposes introducing a new category of worker called a dependent contractor – those that are eligible for workers’ rights but are not workers. This would bolster rights to sick and holiday pay to address the situation of freelance and temporary workers who work irregular hours and don’t currently enjoy the same protection as employees.
Minimum wage payment
The report stops short of recommending all workers in the gig economy should be paid the minimum wage, sparking criticism from unions. Instead, it recommends an opt-in flexible system with companies have to pay at least the minimum wage in exchange for a contractor working during busy periods.
Since the introduction of fees in 2013, employment tribunals have become less accessible, meaning there’s been a rise in cases where employees haven’t been able to enforce their rights by taking employers who violate laws to court.
It has been claimed that since the fees came into force, the number of cases sought has dropped by almost 70 per cent.
On this basis, the Taylor Review also recommends that the government should look at reducing the cost of employment tribunal fees.
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