Government slammed for ‘damp squib’ working practice proposals

Written By: Ian Hernon
Published: February 11, 2018 Last modified: February 11, 2018

The government has not gone far enough in its response to the Taylor review of modern working practices, say critics.

In response to the review , minister said they would seek to protect workers’ rights by: taking 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; and 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.

But employment law expert Daniel Barnett called the proposals a “damp squib” and pointed out that on more important topics the government are merely launching four separate consultations. These concern: employment rights; agency workers; employment status; and measures to increase transparency in the UK labour market. These consultations will end in early May to early June.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “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.

“Ministers need to up their game. At the very least they must end the Undercutters’ Charter [or Swedish derogation] that means agency workers can be paid less than permanent staff doing the same job.”

“Ministers need to up their game. At the very least they must end the Undercutters’ Charter [or Swedish derogation] that means agency workers can be paid less than permanent staff doing the same job.”

The government is for now merely consulting on how to increase transparency of contractual arrangements for agency workers; and how umbrella companies or intermediaries could be brought within the scope of the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS).

About Ian Hernon

Ian Hernon is Deputy Editor of Tribune