Select Committees Publish Draft Bill on Worker Status
Thursday 7th December 2017
The Work and Pensions (WP) and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committees have published a joint report, entitled ‘A framework for modern employment,’ and accompanying draft bill in response to July’s Taylor Report on modern working practices in the UK.
The Committees’ most notable recommendations include:
- Legislation should provide clearer definitions of employment status to reduce the need for courts and employment tribunals to adjudicate on this point.
- Employment status should be that of ‘worker’ by default to reduce the burden on workers to have to bring claims to correct companies’ questionable ‘self-employment’ models.
- A pilot scheme should be introduced whereby workers who do not have guaranteed hours are compensated in the form of a premium being paid on top of the National Minimum Wage.
- Employment tribunals should consider imposing higher fines and costs orders against employers who have lost similar cases in the past.
- All agency workers should be entitled to the same treatment as permanent employees once they have completed 12 weeks’ service. The option to opt-out of equal pay entitlement should be removed.
Comment: As new business models built around flexible work on digital platforms become more prevalent, the Committees’ report advocates significant reforms to employment law to prevent companies from gaining a competitive advantage from exploiting their workforce. While the proposed reforms appear to swing the pendulum in favour of workers’ rights at the expense of employers, it is important to note that the report does not represent government policy and it remains to be seen how the government responds to the report’s recommendations.