Workers’ Rights: UK Plans to Balance Flexibility and Fairness

By Sam Thomas | 11th July 2017 | 14 min read

Mathew Taylor, the author of a government review into workplace practices has today revealed the changes UK businesses will face.

The report commissioned by Prime Minister, Theresa May unveils the results of a nine-month review focusing on, key issues facing HR employment law, ensuring employers are using best practice for their employees in the UK and examining how "gig economy" firms like Deliveroo and Uber treat their workers.

Mrs May has stated: "this government will act to ensure that the interests of employees on traditional contracts, the self-employed and those people working in the 'gig' economy are all properly protected."

The term gig economy refers to firms that rely on casual workers compared to the full-time worker, that often take work via smartphone apps.

The use of zero-hour contracts has been previously scrutinised by the Labour party with calls for them to be banned completely. Taylor however, has stated he does not wish to abolish them outright as it would deprive workers of valued flexibility. The review recommends the right to request set hours with Mr Taylor describing the UK`s flexible labour market as one of the economy’s best strengths.

Mr Taylor has also revealed that the review does not “add to the high enough burden on business created by existing policies such as the Apprenticeship Levy, Automatic Enrolment, and the higher minimum wage”.

In the report Taylor has listed seven key principles for “fair and decent work”:

The 7 Key Principles

  1. The “national strategy for work” should have the explicit goal of good work for all, the government is accountable but businesses also need to embrace responsibility.
  2. Worker status should be renamed dependent contractor status and it should be made easier to distinguish between these individuals and those who are genuinely self-employed.
  3.  Employment law and the way it is enforced should help companies make the right choices and enable individuals to know and exercise their rights.
  4.  Good corporate governance and strong employer relations, not more employment law, are the best way to achieve better work.
  5.  Everyone should feel they have “realistically attainable ways to strengthen their future work prospects”, whether through formal learning or on-the-job activities.
  6.  Organisations should take a more proactive approach towards workplace health, given that “the shape and content of work” and wellbeing are closely related.
  7. Employers in different sectors should form sectoral strategies to ensure individuals do not get stuck at national living wage level and are able to progress in their careers.

According to Mr. Taylor, the main priority was to answer one simple question, “what is good work practice?” The answer according to Taylor is about “balancing flexibility and fairness for all employees”.

Are you balancing flexibility and fairness for your employees?

To find out more information on HR legislation we are running a series of free webinars where we look at some of the most popular topics in the world of Human Resources.

Each month, we're joined by Marie Walsh, Director and Employment Lawyer at Consilia Legal to break down each topic and give you all the information you need.

To book your place on the next webinar of the series by clicking below to register:

Click Here

You can also catch up on any missed webinars by Clicking Here