The TUC believes that there is a compelling case for the government to reform employment status rules so they reflect the reality of the workplace and raise the floor of rights for working people.
The government should adopt an ambitious programme of reform:
We appreciate the opportunity to respond to the BEIS/HMRC/HMT consultation on employment status following the Taylor Review of modern employment practices.
The issue of employment status has long been a problem for workers and their employers.
The current rules on status are complex and confusing. The current uncertainty means that individuals can miss out on their rights at work. It is also all too easy for employers to devise sham arrangements so as to deprive workers of their rights. It is not uncommon for unscrupulous employers to tell zero hours contract workers and agency workers that they have no rights – even though the legal reality may be very different. Employers also seek to avoid their employment and tax obligations by misclassifying staff as self-employed.
In recent years, the issue of the employment status has become more complex, with the growth in zero hours working, agency worker and platform working. Thanks to several union-backed cases, the courts and tribunals have rightly concluded that staff employed in the gig economy have many of the features of standard employment relationships and are therefore entitled to rights. These developments are welcome. But this does not mean that the issue of status is finally resolved. The problems relating to employment status are also not limited to the so-called gig economy but can be found across more traditional workplaces and sectors.
The current three-tier approach to employment rights means those in insecure work, who are most in need of protection, are the very people who miss out key workplace rights, because they don’t qualify as employees. As a result, they can be hired and fired at will. They miss out on parental rights so find it difficult to balance work and family life and are not entitled to redundancy pay if work dries up.