Stricter enforcement of employment rights to benefit those in the gig economy

Today the government announced a ‘Good Work Plan’ in an attempt to address the issues that have arisen with the enforcement of workers’ rights amongst those who work in the ‘gig economy’.

The gig economy is characterised as a sector in which workers have a great degree of flexibility and are often placed on temporary or zero-hour contracts. More recently the gig economy has been at the forefront of employment law disputes where Employment Tribunals have been asked to determine the legal status of these workers. The recent Uber case, which was covered in one of our previous employment law bulletins, demonstrates the legal difficulties within this sector and whilst the courts have provided some degree of clarity through case law, the government felt further intervention was required so that workers within the gig economy know their rights.

Responding to the Taylor Review into modern working practises, published last year, the government has pledged to ensure that vulnerable workers are aware of their rights, receive the benefits and protections they are entitled to and to take action against employers who breach workers’ rights.

In particular, the government plans to enforce the introduction of a new right to a payslip for all workers and provide a day-one list of rights, including holiday and sick pay entitlements. Additionally, those workers who currently have flexible contracts will be given the right to request a contract which provides more financial stability. The government further seeks to introduce a new naming and shaming scheme for those employers who fail to pay Employment Tribunal awards alongside increased Employment Tribunal fines for those employers who show malice, spite or gross oversight during such claims.

These measures go beyond those proposed by the Taylor Review and demonstrate to some extent the direction of the government’s approach towards the rights of individuals at work.

You can find further details of the Good Work Plan in the government’s press release here.

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