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    Workers’ rights get 21st century upgrade

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    Gig economy workers are becoming more popular with employers. Choosing to hire freelancers and staff on short-term contracts over those who would stay with a company indefinitely has fast become a trend that often sees workers lose out.

    The benefits for an individual to become a freelancer or work short-term contacts are widely known, these include: Better pay, flexibility and the chance ability to work for several different employers at once. However, the problem means that you aren’t covered by the same benefits that those employed permanently are given such as paid maternity and sick leave.

    New legislation announced by the government plans to give greater protection to gig economy workers by making employers explain to their staff the details of their workers’ rights on the first day of the job.

    The maximum employment tribunal fines for employers demonstrated to have shown malice, spite or gross oversight will increase from £5,000 to £20,000. The government has also pledged to close a loophole that had allowed agency staff to be paid less than permanent employees, and ensure that companies calculate holiday pay based on 52 weeks, as opposed to 12 weeks, so people in ‘seasonal or atypical roles get the paid time off they are entitled to’, reports HR Magazine.

    “The largest upgrade in a generation.” – Greg Clark, business, energy and industrial strategy secretary.

    The reforms are based on Matthew Taylor’s Good Work Plan, which made several recommendations on improving working conditions, particularly around the gig economy.

    Lindsay Judge, senior research and policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “With Britain seeing record employment levels the government is right to focus on raising the quality as well as quantity of work.

    “These welcomed proposals will boost pay for some agency workers and rightly focus on the need for better enforcement to police the rules of our labour market. This new approach to enforcement will need to be properly funded if it is to significantly reduce exploitation in the workplace.”

    David Chaplin, CEO and founder of contracting company ContractorCalculator, highlights: “There is nothing inherently wrong with zero-hours contracts for those workers who want those terms, but again some employers are abusing zero-hours workers in a bid to reduce their overheads including taxation.

    “Poor regulation and poor enforcement drives some unscrupulous firms to practice poor work not good work, which the government is striving to put in place. We need to enact laws that motivate and encourage firms to adhere to them rather than find ways around them, because enforcement resources will never be enough.”

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    AUTHOR

    Vincenzo Ferrara

    Vinny Ferrara, Staff Writer for PA Life

    All stories by: Vincenzo Ferrara