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Good Work plan brings in new rights for workers

The Government has announced a package of reforms designed to better protect workers and address the challenges of fast-changing working practices.

The Good Work plan comes in response to last year’s Taylor Review. The UK is one of the first countries to address these challenges and, according to the Government, millions will now benefit from enhanced rights.

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

The announcement also included a pledge to shelve plans to increase National Insurance Contributions for the self-employed - contrary to Matthew Taylor’s recommendations.

However, many of Taylor’s proposals have been adopted and some of the Government’s announcements go further, including:

  • New day-one rights for workers, including holiday and sick pay entitlements and a new right to a 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.

Prime minister Theresa May said: “We are proud to have record levels of employment in this country but we must also ensure that workers’ rights are always upheld. Our response to this report will mean tangible progress towards that goal as we build an economy that works for everyone.”

Many of the measures are about increasing worker awareness of their rights alongside better enforcement. They include:

  • Giving all 1.2 million agency workers a clear breakdown of who pays them and any costs or charges deducted from their wages;
  • Introducing a new naming scheme for employers who fail to pay employment tribunal awards;
  • Making sure new and expectant mothers know their workplace rights and raising awareness amongst employers of their obligations;
  • Taking further action to ensure unpaid interns are not doing the job of a worker.

The long-standing issue of how to define self-employment has not yet been resolved, however. The Government is launching a consultation examining options, including new legislation, to make it easier for both workers and businesses to understand whether someone is an employee, worker or self-employed - and determining which rights and tax obligations apply to them.

In addition, the Government has asked the Low Pay Commission to consider the impact of higher minimum wage rates for workers on zero-hour contracts.