Is the Good Work Plan good news for agency and zero-hour workers?

Earlier this week the Government set out their ‘Good Work Plan’ in response to last year’s Taylor Review into employment status and the gig economy. The Government announced these proposals as “the largest upgrade in workers’ rights for a generation”.

How does the Good Work Plan seek to protect “gig economy” workers?

The Taylor review concluded that changes were needed to protect some workers in the gig economy where a lack of employment rights was seen to outweigh the inherent flexibility of working in the gig economy. Event workers, Uber drivers and couriers could all be affected by the Good Work Plan. Here are some of the key proposed changes:

  • Raising the employment tribunal fine for employers found to have demonstrated “malice, spite or gross oversight” from a maximum of £5,000 to £20,000
  • Repealing the ‘Swedish Derogation’ which allows agency workers to be paid less than permanent employees in certain circumstances
  • Ensuring companies provide a written “statement of rights” to workers on their first day of work, including their entitlement to paid leave for sickness, maternity or paternity leave
  • Increasing the period required to break continuity of employment from one week to four, allowing workers to accrue employment rights even if there is a gap between their assignments
  • Calculating holiday pay based on 52 weeks, as opposed to the current 12 weeks, so people in “seasonal or atypical roles get the paid time off they are entitled to”
  • Clarifying employment status tests to “reflect the reality of modern working relationships” and reducing the differences between the employment status test for tax and employment law purposes
  • Banning employers from making deductions from staff tips

The proposals have taken on board some of the Taylor Review’s findings, but not all. There is now draft legislation in place which confirms that these proposed changes are due to come into effect in April 2020.

Is this really “the largest upgrade in workers’ rights in over a generation”? Business Secretary Gregg Clarke, who introduced the Good Work Plan on Monday, has described it as such. Whilst the Government have portrayed these proposed reforms as addressing the perceived issues with the gig economy they have stopped short of abolishing zero-hours contracts altogether.

The Government and the Taylor Review agree that banning them outright would lose the “genuine two-way flexibility” they offer.

Contact Tom Draper to find out more, or sign up to our Employment Law newsletter.

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.

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