Employment rights – policy update

Complementing our unpaid wages pro bono project, we are continuing our policy work on employment rights. Our work focuses on the need for an accessible and robust redress system to uphold fair and consistent rights and protections for all employees and workers. This is a hot topic given changing labour market conditions, exploitation and pay in the ‘gig economy,’ and debates over EU law on workers' protection.

The Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have published their “Good Work Plan” (December 2018), following the Government commissioned independent ‘Taylor Review’. Government commitments include:

  • legislating to give all workers the right to request a more stable contract;
  • banning use of agency worker contracts which derogate from equal pay rights;
  • extending to workers an entitlement to a statement of their rights on appointment, including specific information for agency workers;
  • launching an awareness campaign and information tools on paid leave entitlement;
  • banning employers from making deductions from staff tips;
  • legislating to clarify employment status tests to prevent employers from using status uncertainty to misclassify or mislead staff;
  • extending state enforcement to underpayment of holiday pay;
  • legislating to increase the maximum level of penalty that Employment Tribunals can impose, and  to create an obligation on Employment Tribunals to consider the use of sanctions;
  • bringing forward proposals for a new single labour market enforcement agency.

Addressing the challenges for the Employment Tribunal (ET), the Law Commission have also been consulting on a package of reforms to extend the jurisdiction and capability of the ET, including the time and compensation limits for contract based claims, its scope over discrimination claims, and its powers to enforce judgements.

Whilst modest and incremental, many of the proposed reforms are in line with suggestions made by LawWorks in the consultation process, and we were pleased to have been quoted in the Taylor review’s final report:

“Employment rights need to strike the right balance between security, flexibility and innovation. Above all though people need transparency, information and advice about what their rights and legal position may be in any particular context and relationship”.

“There can and should be greater transparency for all workers as to the terms of their engagement and accrued rights, such as pay. Extending to “workers” similar rights of employees as regards particulars of engagement as well as itemised information regarding pay and other accrued entitlements could be the first step to informing workers on the most basic level about their rights and obligations”

You can see read our submissions below:-

An Employment Rights Bill to implement some of these changes is expected shortly.


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