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New measures to protect vulnerable workers’ rights

WORKPLACE REFORMS: Business Secretary Greg Clark

BUSINESS SECRETARY Greg Clark has hailed a new era for British workers after new measures ushered in the biggest package of workplace reforms for over 20 years.

The package of reforms are outlined in the Good Work Plan, the Government’s response to recent Taylor review of modern working practices conducted by Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts.

They are aimed at ensuring that employees are treated fairly, businesses have greater clarity on their obligations and that the legal mechanisms protecting workers’ rights is effective.

Among the new measures, announced last month are:

• New legislation to upgrade workers’ rights including a day one statement of rights for all workers setting out leave entitlements and pay which include details on rights such as eligibility for sick leave and pay and details of other types of paid leave, such as maternity and paternity leave;

• Plans to bring forward proposals for a new single labour market enforcement body to ensure workers’ rights are properly enforced 
• An end to the legal loophole which enables some firms to pay agency workers less than permanent staff
• Quadrupling maximum employment tribunal fines for employers who are demonstrated to have shown malice, spite or gross oversight from £5,000 to £20,000; and
• Extending the holiday pay reference period from 12 to 52 weeks, ensuring those in seasonal or atypical roles get the paid time off they are entitled to.

The reforms take forward 51 of the 53 recommendations of the Taylor review.

The government is also committing to legislate to improve the clarity of the employment status tests to reflect the reality of the modern working relationships.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “The UK has a labour market of which we can be proud.  We have the highest employment rate on record, increased participation amongst historically under-represent groups and wages growing at their fastest pace in almost a decade.

POLICIES

“This success has been underpinned by policies and employment law which strikes an effective balance between flexibility and worker protections but the world of work is changing, bringing new opportunities for innovative businesses and new business models to flourish, creating jobs across the country and boosting our economy. 

"With new opportunity also comes new challenges and that is why the Government asked Matthew Taylor to carry out this first of a kind review, to ensure the UK continues to lead the world, through our modern Industrial Strategy, in supporting innovative businesses whilst ensuring workers have the rights they deserve.

PROTECTION: People such as cab drivers working in the gig economy will enjoy greater rights under the new measures

"Clark added that the “largest upgrade in workers’ rights in over a generation is a key part of building a labour market that continues to reward people for hard work, that celebrates good employers and is boosting productivity and earning potential across the UK.  

Sir David Metcalf, the Director of Labour Market Enforcement, who had a significant input in shaping some of the recommendations outlined in the Taylor review said:

ENFORCEMENT

“I welcome the Government's response to my UK Labour Market Enforcement Strategy for 2018/19. I am extremely grateful to the three enforcement bodies for their engagement and help during the development of the Strategy and for the constructive approach they have taken throughout with a view to strengthening Labour Market Enforcement across the UK.

“I am pleased that the vast majority of my 37 recommendations have been accepted, including my recommendations regarding a shift to more proactive enforcement and improving joint working between the three enforcement bodies under my remit and wider organisations within labour market enforcement.”

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