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Workers’ rights overhaul revealed

The government has announced a raft of laws aimed at transforming UK workers’ rights.

New measures, announced today, includes a day one statement of rights to workers, detailing their eligibility for sick leave and pay and details of other types of paid leave, such as maternity and paternity leave. 

The proposals feature plans to introduce a single labour market enforcement body to ensure workers rights are properly enforced.

Maximum employment tribunal fines are to be quadrupled for employers who are found to have shown malice, spite or gross oversight from £5,000 to £20,000.

The holiday pay reference period will be extended from 12 to 52 weeks in a bid to ensure seasonal workers are paid time off they are entitled to.

The proposals are in response to the 2017 review of modern working practices set up to address the so-called gig economy.

The review, titled Good Work: The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices, was chaired by Royal Society of the Arts chief executive Matthew Taylor.

In total the government accepted 51 of the 53 recommendations made by Mr Taylor in his report, which significantly stopped short of totally banning zero-hours contracts.

The measures will also see the a legal loophole that enabled certain businesses to pay agency workers less than permanent staff scrapped.

Known as the ‘Swedish derogation’ the loophole allowed workers to sign pay-between-assignment contracts which enabled them to become employees of agencies rather than agency workers.

However, under the current rules the agency staff were not entitled to equal pay between assignments.

The government said it had found from both the review and its subsequent consultations that protections were not strong enough for those employed by agencies with all the risk being transferred to the workers in some cases.

As a result the contracts have been banned by the government.

The government has also responded to the director of Labour Market Enforcement Sir David Metcalf’s review of the labour market with a focus on Sir David’s suggestions around the protection of vulnerable workers.

The new measures will see the creation of new powers to impose penalties for employers who breach employment agency legislation like non-payment of wages.

A consultation on salaried hours work and salary sacrifice schemes in an effort to ensure national minimum wage rules did not inadvertently penalise employers.

It added that it would also bring forward legislation to enforce holiday pay for vulnerable workers.

The government has also launched a consultation regarding Sir David’s recommendations on non-compliance in supply chains.

In September shadow chancellor John McDonnell pledged to bring in new laws to give “gig economy” workers sick pay, parental leave and protection against unfair dismissal.

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