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Compensation for flexible workers facing cancelled shifts

Compensation for flexible workers facing cancelled shifts

Millions of flexible workers will benefit from new rights and extra protections if they lose out on work, under proposed government reforms.

  • New rights for flexible workers giving them enhanced protections and control over their working lives
  • plans include compensation for shifts cancelled at short notice
  • second phase of the largest upgrade in workers’ rights in a generation, through the government’s Good Work Plan

As part of the largest upgrade in workers’ rights in a generation, millions of flexible workers will benefit from new rights and extra protections if they lose out on work, under proposed government reforms.

Advancing the Good Work Plan, the government will consult on proposed new measures for flexible workers, including:

  • compensation for workers when shifts are cancelled at short notice
  • entitlement to a reasonable period of notice for their allocated shifts
  • additional protections for individuals who are penalised if they do not accept shifts last minute

Business Secretary Greg Clark said:

Innovative entrepreneurs and new business models have opened up a whole new world of working patterns and opportunities, providing people with freedom to decide when and where they work that best suits them.

It’s vital that workers’ rights keep pace with these changes, reflect the modern working environment and tackle the small number of firms that do not treat their staff fairly.

We are the first country in the world to address modern working practices and these protections will cement the UK’s status as a world-leader in workers’ rights.

Low Pay Commission Chair Bryan Sanderson said:

We are delighted to see the government taking forward our recommendation to consult on these measures.

Last year we looked at the data on one-sided flexibility and talked to workers and businesses across the UK. Our report, published in December, found that shift cancellations and short notice of work schedules were significant problems, especially for low-paid workers.

The proposed changes, part of a package of policies we suggested, have the potential to improve work and life for hundreds of thousands of people.

Often used in service industries such as couriers and hospitality and in the retail sectors, flexible working allows people to fit their work around their personal lives, including caring responsibilities and studies.

Following the Matthew Taylor review, which found that zero hours contracts work for the majority of those on them giving them the flexibility they seek but recommended that the Low Pay Commission should examine the issue of one-sided flexibility. Nearly 40% of UK workers say that their hours can vary from week-to-week, with approximately 1.7 million individuals feeling anxious that their working hours could change unexpectedly.

The government’s proposed reforms will allow flexible workers to retain their autonomy that suits them, while allowing businesses to continue using them to cope with peaks in demand.

The proposed measures follow the government’s announcement that it is consulting on creating a single labour market enforcement body, which will strengthen protections for workers and provide them with new rights.

The government is inviting views on flexible working and has published a consultation on one-sided flexibility. The consultation will be open for 12 weeks.

The Low Pay Commission found that approximately 1.7 million individuals were very anxious that their working hours could change unexpectedly (source: Government response to one-sided flexibility from the Low Pay Commission, 2018)

17% of low-paid workers who had flexible hours were provided with no more than a day’s notice prior to their shift being cancelled (source: Labour Market Outlook, CIPD, 2018)

Nearly 40% of all UK workers say that their hours ‘tend to vary from week to week’ (source: A Response to government on ‘one-sided flexibility’, Low Pay Commission, 2018)

The Taylor Review found that to ban zero hours contracts in their totality would negatively impact many more people than it helped.

The Good Work Plan was announced in December 2018 and formed the government response to the independent Taylor Review of impact modern working practices (2017). The review found that the strength of the UK’s labour market is built on flexibility but that a clearer focus was needed on quality of work as well as the quantity of jobs.

The government has already taken action by:

  • introducing new rights to workers to receive a payslip and for payslips to include the number of hours worked. This came into effect on 6 April 2019
  • ensuring all workers will be better protected from employers who have demonstrated malice, spite or gross oversight, with the maximum additional penalty that Employment Tribunals can use quadrupling from £5,000 to £20,000, which came into effect on 6 April 2019
  • supporting up to 120,000 agency workers through the scrapping of the Swedish Derogation – a legal loophole enabling some companies to pay agency workers less than permanent staff, and providing a key facts page to new agency workers before they sign up with an agency, which will provide clarity, particularly around their pay
  • introducing a new entitlement to a day one statement of rights setting out details of a new employee’s leave allowance and pay
  • giving employees a stronger voice in the workplace. Employees already have a legal right to make a request to be informed and consulted about issues at work and the threshold for them to request these arrangements will be reduced from 10% to 2%
  • extending the holiday pay reference period from 12 to 52 weeks, ensuring those in seasonal or atypical roles get the paid time off they are entitled to
  • announcing a new naming scheme for employers who fail to pay employment tribunal awards
  • taking further action to ensure unpaid interns are not doing the job of a worker
  • consulting on a new single enforcement body to enforce the labour market, which will be open for 12 weeks

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