Agency and Zero-Hour Worker Rights Reforms
Following on from Matthew Taylor’s ‘Good Work Review’ in 2017, the Government has introduced proposals to make legislative changes to improve protection for agency workers, zero-hours’ workers and others with ‘atypical working arrangements’.
Draft legislation is yet to be published but the legislative changes are designed to:
- introduce a right to request a fixed working pattern for those who do not have one (i.e. those who are on zero hours contracts), after 26 weeks’ on a non-fixed pattern;
- change the rules on continuity of employment, so that a break of up to four weeks between contracts will not interrupt continuity (it is currently one week);
- extend the right to a written statement of terms and conditions to workers (as well as employees), and require the employer to give it on the first day of work (rather than within two months) which will cover things such as entitlements to sick pay, maternity/paternity etc;
- streamline the employment status tests so they are the same for employment and tax purposes, to prevent employers misclassifying employees/workers as self-employed;
- prohibit employers from making deductions from staff tips;
- increase the penalty for employer’s conduct (i.e. malice, spite or gross oversight in breaching employment rights) from £5,000 to £20,000; and
- abolish the Swedish Derogation, which gives employers the ability to pay agency workers less than their own workers in certain circumstances
Whilst the above changes will go some way to tidying up the issues surrounding employment status and entitlements of workers in the gig economy, some commentators feel the proposals do not go far enough to tackle the abuse of zero hours contracts and clarify the tests to establish employment status.