UK addresses the challenges of the changing world of work in the modern economy

Millions of workers will receive new rights under major government reforms as the UK addresses the challenges in the changing world of work

The government has set out new proposals to ensure that workers know their rights and receive the benefits and protections they are entitled to, and that action is taken against employers who breach workers’ rights.

The ‘Good Work plan’ comes in response to the independent Taylor Review, published last year, which investigated what impact modern working practices are having on the world of work.

The reforms are a vital part of the Industrial Strategy, the government’s long-term plan to build a Britain fit for the future by helping businesses create better, higher-paying jobs in every part of the UK.

The Prime Minister 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”.

The government will seek to protect workers’ rights by:

  • Take further action to ensure unpaid interns are not doing the job of a worker;
  • Introducing a new naming scheme for employers who fail to pay employment tribunal awards
  • Quadrupling employment tribunal fines for employers showing, malice, spite or gross oversight to £20,000 and considering increasing penalties for employers who have previously lost similar cases

It will ensure workers are paid fairly by:

  • Providing all 1.2 million agency workers with a clear breakdown of who pays them and any costs or charges deducted from their wages.
  • Asking the Low Pay Commission to consider the impact of higher minimum wage rates for workers on zero-hour contracts
  • Considering repealing laws allowing agencies to employ workers on cheaper rates

It will also increase transparency in the business environment by:

  • defining ‘working time’ for flexible workers who find jobs through apps or online so they know when they should be being paid
  • launching a task force with business to promote awareness and take-up of the right to request flexible working introduced in 2014
  • making sure new and expectant mothers know their workplace rights and raise awareness amongst employers of their obligations
  • launching a new campaign to encourage more working parents to share childcare through Shared Parental Leave – a right introduced in 2015

In some cases, the government plans to go further than the review’s proposals, including:

  • Enforcing vulnerable workers’ holiday and sick pay for the first time
  • A list of day-one rights including holiday and sick pay entitlements and a new right to payslip for all workers, including casual and zero-hour workers
  • A right for all workers, not just zero-hour and agency, to request a more stable contract, providing more financial security for those on flexible contracts

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