Millions of flexible workers will be eligible for sick and holiday pay under Government plans to improve the rights of those employed in the ‘gig economy.’
Devised in response to last year’s Taylor Review into working practices, the proposals build on the recommendation that all work in the UK should be “fair and decent.”
Enforcing holidays and sick pay and introducing rights for flexible workers to request stable contracts for enhanced financial security, are all included in the plans announced on Tuesday.
The government will also ask the Low Pay Commission to consider a higher minimum wage for workers on zero-hour contracts, many of whom have been revealed to be earning below the £7.50 threshold.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said the measures would “address very clearly” the rights of those in insecure work.
“We will be enforcing the rights that people have and are entitled to,” Mr Clark said.
He added: “We want to embrace new ways of working, and to do so we will be one of the first countries to prepare our employment rules to reflect the new challenges.”
Are the new proposals enough for flexible workers?
A quarter of people working in Britain’s gig economy are paid below the national minimum wage, new government research for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has revealed.
The Guardian reports that an estimated 700,000 people are earning less than the mandatory £7.50 per hour working as couriers, taxi drivers, delivery drivers and in other self-employed work.
The proposals issued this week indicate the government is committed to improving pay and conditions for these types of workers but have come under fire from unions, who have described them as not going far enough.
“Light on substance “
Dr Jason Moyer-Lee, General Secretary of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) said:
“Like the Taylor Review, it so far appears big on grandiose claims, light on substance.
“The most important single thing government could do is introduce effective government enforcement of employment law. They say they will do this but give no indication of how.”
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady also commented:
“The government has taken a baby step – when it needed to take a giant leap.
“These plans won’t stop the hire and fire culture of zero-hours contracts or sham self-employment. And they will still leave 1.8 million workers excluded from key protections.”
Jason Moyer-Lee, general secretary of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, meanwhile, told Sky News that the Government needs to be as tough on abuse in the gig economy as it is on crime:
“These companies know they are unlawfully depriving workers of rights they’re entitled to and the reason they get away with it is because there’s no government enforcement.
“But for government enforcement to be effective they need to put in the resources to properly enforce the law and create a deterrent effect so these companies have an incentive to obey the law.”