New rights for 0 hour workers in Britain

New government reforms will give greater rights to the millions of zero hour and agency workers across Britain.

The changes come as a response to last year’s Taylor Review into working practices. Business Secretary Greg Clark has said that the changes will “address very clearly” the rights of those who are in this line of work.

He told the BBC:

“We will be enforcing the rights that people have and are entitled to.

We want to embrace new ways of working, and to do so we will be one of the first countries to prepare our employment rules to reflect the new challenges.”

The government claims that the majority of the Taylor Review’s suggestions will be adopted.  However, unions have said that the changes will leave 1.8 million workers without vital rights.

As part of its changes the government will: enforce holiday and sick pay entitlements, give all workers the right to demand a payslip and allow flexible workers to demand more stable contracts.

The review focuses on the gig economy of part time and flexible workers.  There was an estimated 1.1 million people working in Britain’s gig economy in 2017.

What do gig workers do? | Image Credit: Reuters

EN4 News spoke to some 0 hour workers to get their views on the proposed changes.

Leila Wallace, an agency worker for Quality Link, said that although her experience with agency work has been positive, she appreciates the changes and how they will benefit others.

“I personally already receive these benefits.  I get a payslip every week, even if I’m not working, and recently received my holiday pay.

I think 0 hour contracts are great, obviously there are some negatives, but the job allows me to work around my university schedule and my social life.

However, I do know some more disadvantaged 0 hour contract workers who struggle to get the hours they need, so giving them more stability in their job will definitely be a positive change.”

Other workers agreed that they had positive experiences with 0 hour contracts in the past, Sophie-Ann Mair, a member of the House Team for Edinburgh University’s Student Association, said:

“Personally zero hour contracts in my experience have always been positive.

However, in my current job I do get holiday pay and they allow me flexible working hours around my studies.”

She added that it is important that all employers follow these rules, not just some:

“I know I’m in a lucky position in that my employer works around me rather than the other way around.

I think it is important people on zero hour contracts are entitled to the same rights as contract workers, as if they do not, zero hour contracts become a way for employers to cut corners and not value their workers.”

Unions have criticised the proposed changes, claiming that there is little substance to the plans.  Trades Union Congress 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.”

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