Fri 4 January, 2019
We’re going to start the New Year by taking a look at the governments highly publicised ‘Good Work Plan’ whose recommendations were taken up and suggested legislation was outlined in the final days of December when it looked like the Prime Minister was about to face the kind of backbench rebellion that had long been promised by hardline Brexiteers.
But when the votes were counted ‘the rebellion’ could barely claim to be a legitimate whimper and the career politicians who had waited so long in the wings realised that it just wasn’t worth inheriting the coffin Mrs May has fortified herself into. So what of the ‘distraction of the ‘Good Work Plan’?
The Good Work Plan itself has been hailed by the government as the most wide ranging reforms in employment law for 20 years. The ‘Good Work Plan’, written by former chief strategist to the Blair Labour Government Matthew Taylor, was published in 2017(1)and made 53 recommendations. The current government has decided to try to implement 51 of these. The announcement made has suggested the following:
• An end to the ‘Swedish Derogation’ a legal loophole which allowed agency workers to be paid less than full-time workers doing the same job.
• Employers must provide new employee’s with a ‘Statement of Rights’ which outlines their pay and leave entitlement.
• Holiday pay for workers with fluctuating wages will look at the previous 52 weeks earnings rather than the current 12 weeks.
• New resources to be granted to the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate.
• Tips to be paid directly to workers rather than to a ‘pot’.
• Last but not least - the right for workers to ask for more ‘predictable & stable’ work from their employers.
Overall, its hardly the kind of ground breaking change that is needed to protect the ‘gig’ economy. The TUC immediately latched on to the workers ‘right’ to request more ‘predictable and stable’ working conditions as akin to Oliver Twist’s request for ‘more’ food.(2) Good fiction at best! Certainly, some change is better than none at all for the ‘gig economy’ which now accounts for 1 in 9 workers or 3.7 million people, but its not going to address the issues of ‘flexibility’ - which largely serve the interests of the employer (which employer will repeatedly offer low skilled work to unreliable workers?).
The ‘gig economy’ now is alive and well and the government’s legislative plans will do very little to address the problems faced by people with these terms & conditions.
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