Labour joins unions in attacking review into work practices
UNIONS lamented a “massive missed opportunity” yesterday as a report into employment practices threatened to entrench precarious work.
In his review into modern employment practices, former Tony Blair adviser Matthew Taylor suggests “technology and forms of WorkerTech” as a potential substitute for trade union organisation in so-called gig economy workplaces.
The review was commissioned by the Tory government following a series of employment tribunal cases, in which self-employed couriers and taxi drivers working for firms such as Uber and Deliveroo have argued for employment rights as workers.
Mr Taylor declined to recommend a ban on zero-hour contracts, instead calling on the government to “incentivise employers to provide certainty of hours and income as far as possible.”
The review recommends that the current employment category of “worker,” which lies between employees and the self-employed, should be renamed “dependent contractors.”
It would be “unreasonable” for such contractors to log onto gig economy computer systems “when they know there is no work” and expect to still be paid the minimum wage, the review says.
Mr Taylor said online platforms could be used to “provide individuals with an accurate guide to their potential earnings” — which unions fear could lead to workers losing the right to take action against companies who fail to pay legal minimums.
Accrued employment rights can currently be denied to workers who take — or are forced to take — a gap of a week between assignments. Mr Taylor recommends this should be extended to a month.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn hit out at the “missed opportunity to tackle insecure employment.”
He said that in Labour’s manifesto, the party had set out a plan “to transform the workplace and protect and improve workers’ rights. By abolishing employment tribunal fees, scrapping zero-hours contracts and giving rights to all workers from day one, we would halt and reverse the spread of exploitation in the gig economy.”
Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey said the report demonstrated that “insecurity is the inevitable new norm” for gig economy workers.
At the review’s launch, Prime Minister Theresa May said zero-hours contracts should not allow employers to “exploit” workers, but said banning them would “harm more people than it would help.”
But University and College Union general secretary Sally Hunt said: “For people who live in daily fear that their hours will be cut if they even speak out, such a right is quite meaningless and makes this review a massive missed opportunity.”