Due to confusion among the UK’s workers, the Department for Business, Innovation (BIS) and Skills has announced a review of employment rights.
This could lead to a change in rights for over a million British workers in attempt to make individual’s employment status clearer and stronger.
According to the BIS, many workers don’t even know what rights they are entitled to meaning they’re in weaker positions when disputes might break out with their employer. They’ve also pointed out this works both ways with employers themselves being unsure of worker’s rights and leaving themselves open to legal challenges.
Zero hour contracts are a big concern as they put people into jobs where there is no guaranteed number of hours. This means their source of income can be cut short without warning with the number of these contracts increasing. It was found that those on these contracts were being given “worker” employment contracts rather than the more secure and strong “employee” ones.
This puts the more vulnerable UK workers in a weaker position and makes them more open to abuse from their employers. Vince Cable, the business secretary, has said that these “worker” contracts were never meant to be used in large numbers. He said: “It is right to explore giving a silent minority of workers the security and rights enjoyed by the majority of employees.”
While zero hour contracts can put workers in an unpleasant situation, the Recruitment and Employment Federation has argued in their favour before. Their chief executive, Kevin Green, said “There is nothing inherently wrong with zero hour contracts”. He suggested they can work for “both employers and staff” and called for a voluntary code of good practice rather than regulation.
Along with a review of rights, Cable announced a simplification of the national minimum wage law and plans to better support apprentices by raising their minimum wage.
This comes as various parties put forward new minimum wage policies. The Chancellor recently announced plans for an above-inflation raise in the minimum wage, Labour leader Ed Miliband called for it to rise to at least £8 an hour, while the Green Party want it brought to £10.