Interns, agency workers and 'gig economy' workers will be given greater rights under a new Government plan.
The Good Work plan will put the UK "at the front of the pack" in tackling the challenges of the changing world of work, according to Business Secretary Greg Clark.
The plan will commit the Government to quadrupling employment tribunal fines for employers showing malice, spite or gross oversight, and to take further action to ensure unpaid interns are not doing the job of a paid employee.
What is the Government going to do?
The Government has published its plan in response to the independent Taylor Review, which investigated what impact modern working practices are having on the world of work.
The review found that the strength of the UK's labour market is built on flexibility but that a clearer focus is needed on quality of work as well as the quantity of jobs.
To protect workers' rights, the Government says it will:
- Take further action to ensure unpaid interns are not doing the job of a paid worker.
- Quadruple employment tribunal fines for employers showing malice, spite or gross oversight to £20,000, and consider increasing penalties for employers that have previously lost similar cases.
- Introduce a 'name and shame' scheme for employers that fail to pay employment tribunal awards.
- Give all workers the right to request a more stable contract, providing more financial security for those on flexible contracts. This will mean the right is extended beyond just agency and zero-hours workers (ie, those whose contract doesn't oblige their employer to provide regular work for them, but requires them to be on call if work becomes available) to those such as term-time only workers.
- Enforce holiday rights and sick pay for vulnerable workers (such as those who are new to the job or older workers).
To ensure employees are paid fairly, the Government says it will:
- Provide all 1.2 million agency workers with a clear breakdown of who pays them and any costs or charges deducted from their wages.
- Ask the Low Pay Commission to consider the impact of a higher minimum wage for workers on zero-hour contracts.
- Consider repealing laws allowing agencies to employ workers on cheaper rates.
- Introduce a right to a payslip for all workers, including casual and zero-hours workers.
To create transparency in the working environment, the Government says it will:
- Define 'working time' for flexible workers who find jobs through apps or online so they know the hours for which they are or should be being paid.
- Launch a task force with businesses to promote awareness and take-up of the right to request flexible working.
- Make sure new and expectant mothers know their workplace rights and raise awareness among employers of their obligations.
- Launch a new campaign to encourage more working parents to share childcare through shared parental leave.
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What does the Government say?
Prime Minister Theresa May said: "We recognise the world of work is changing and we have to make sure we have the right structures in place to reflect those changes, enhancing the UK’s position as one of the best places in the world to do business.
"We are proud to have record levels of employment in this country but we must also ensure that workers’ rights are always upheld.
"Our response to this report will mean tangible progress towards that goal as we build an economy that works for everyone."
Business Secretary Greg Clark said: "The Good Work plan puts the UK at the front of the pack in addressing the challenges and opportunities of modern ways of working, it is an important part of the Industrial Strategy and will enhance our business environment as one of the best places to work, invest and do business."