Under the current Government, there are more people in work in every region of the United Kingdom than ever before and wages are currently growing at their fastest pace in almost a decade. However, concerns have been raised about the way new technologies and changing ways of working have meant some people don’t have sufficient workers’ rights.
In response to these concerns, the Government published their Good Work Plan on strengthening workers’ rights and improving conditions for agency workers or the small proportion of people employed on Zero Hours Contracts. While many people like the flexibility of arrangements like Zero Hour Contracts, the Government has changed the law to give these employees the right to request a more stable contract after a fixed working pattern of twenty-six weeks. For individuals on zero-hours contracts, this change will allow them to request a contract that guarantees a minimum number of weekly hours, increasing their financial certainty.
The Good Work Plan also addresses the so-called “Swedish Derogation”, under which the EU allows an employer to pay an agency worker less than permanent employees for the same work, provided it is under a specific employment contract. The Government will ban the use of this type of contract and ensure that long-term agency workers recieve equal wages to permanent staff.
Agency workers already receive greater protections than many other casual workers, many of which are enforced by the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate. However, the Government will increase the enforcement and the maximum penalty imposed by employment tribunals on the grounds of aggravated breach from £5,000 to £20,000.
Rebecca Harris MP said:
‘I am pleased that the Government are once again going further to protect the rights of agency workers and improving their working conditions. I know that some hard-working Castle Point residents will benefit from these changes and be able to plan for their futures with more certainty’.