Good Work Plan
Advances in technology and wider societal trends are changing how, when and where we work. As part of our Industrial Strategy we committed to ensuring the UK labour market remains successful and competitive and ready to embrace the benefits of these changes, including those brought by new employment models.
The Prime Minister has committed that we will not only maintain workers’ rights as the UK leaves the EU but enhance them and this Good Work Plan demonstrates how the Government will continue to do this. This Good Work Plan shows how we will continue to strengthen workers’ rights. The recent performance of the UK labour market should be celebrated. High employment rates, a wealth of job opportunities and increased participation across groups who have typically been under-represented is a great testament to the excellence of UK business to grow and innovate.
Fair and decent work
Everyone, regardless of where they live in the UK or which sector they work in, should be able to benefit from high quality jobs. Through the Industrial Strategy, the Secretary of State for Business accepted responsibility for quality of work within Government and committed to working closely with employers to boost the quality of work in the UK. The Industrial Strategy also recognised the vital role quality work can play in enhancing UK productivity and the importance of creating workforces that are motivated, engaged and empowered. For the first time the Government has also taken the ground-breaking step of placing equal importance on the quality and quantity of work. Many successive Governments have focused on boosting the quantity of work. This remains a key aim, but now that we have achieved record levels of employment, it is only right that we also focus attention on creating higher quality jobs. We want to lead the way internationally in offering high quality work for all. The Prime Minister has committed that we will not only maintain workers’ rights as the UK leaves the EU, but enhance them, and this Good Work Plan demonstrates how the Government will continue to do this.
Clarity for employers and workers
There is an important link between having a flexible labour market and creating the right conditions for innovation and growth. The UK has a global reputation as a great place to do business and we have one of the most flexible labour markets in the world. The success of our approach is demonstrated by employment and participation rates reaching historic highs. We are an attractive location for companies to set-up for the first time and to expand. Every 75 seconds a new business starts up in the UK and we are home to five of the top 10 fastest-growing businesses in Europe. The first foundation of our Industrial Strategy is to maintain and enhance the business environment in the UK. Ensuring our labour market adapts effectively to a rise in new business models and employment relationships is an important aspect of this commitment. With innovation and change comes new challenges. Whilst most employers take a balanced approach to working relationships, acting in the interest of both their business and the people who work for them, there are some who do not – whether that is deliberate or by accident.
What is employment status? Employment status is determined by the characteristics of the working relationship and not simply by what the contract says or what the employer tells their staff. In the UK tax system there is a two-tier employment status framework of employed and self-employed. Written statement Once employees have worked for the same employer for longer than a month, they are entitled to a written statement covering details of their employment contract and rights. They must receive this written statement within 2 months of starting work.
Britain has some of the world’s strongest employment rights. For these rights to be fully realised, the system for enforcing them must be clear, fair and efficient for both workers and employers. It should ensure a level playing field that prevents any employer from repeatedly ignoring their responsibilities. Workers should be confident their employment rights are enforced as strongly as their other rights. There are two tiers of how employment rights are enforced – by the Employment Tribunal system, and by the state. Matthew Taylor concluded that this two-tier enforcement framework works but highlighted some concerns – including a sense that enforcement is not as easy as it should be for the worker.
If an individual believes they are not receiving their entitled rights, they can ultimately take the employer to an Employment Tribunal to arbitrate.Modernising the tribunal service The Government is investing over £1bn on the reform of the courts and tribunals, to transform the way that people experience the justice system. This is an ambitious programme of reform which will help to address some of the difficulties people face in enforcing tribunal awards that Matthew Taylor identified in his report. In particular, the programme includes two projects, the Employment Tribunal Project and the Civil Enforcement Project which aim to make it much simpler for people to bring and pursue Employment Tribunal claims, and more straightforward to enforce them if the award is not paid.
Accessing pay entitlement
In recent years, we have significantly raised the National Minimum Wage, and complemented it with the higher National Living Wage for those aged 25 years old and over. The National Minimum Wage for those aged 21 to 24 years old will be £7.70 in April 2019 – compared with £6.19 for over-21s in 2012. This rise of over 24 percent – and over 32 per cent for those aged 25 years old and over, with the National Living Wage to rise to rate of £8.21 – has given millions of lower-paid workers a well-deserved pay rise, but workers can only benefit if they are receiving the correct rate. Where a worker is concerned, they have not received the National Minimum Wage, National Living Wage or Statutory Sick Pay, they either pursue a claim through an Employment Tribunal or contact HM Revenue and Customs, who can investigate and ensure workers receive the money they are owed. Being able to call on HMRC’s investigators has enabled over 200,000 workers to access National Minimum Wage pay arrears in excess of £15.6m in 2017-18 alone.
1 https://www.gov.uk/government/ uploads/system/uploads/ attachment data/file/679564/HOST_
2 Adapted from Investors in People (2018) ‘New Ways of Working in the Digital Age’. Full case study available
to download: https://www.investorsinpeople. com/stories/iip-ricoh/
3 Stevenson and Farmer (October 2017) ‘Thriving at Work’. Available from: https://www.gov.
uk/Government/publications/ thriving-at-work-a-review-ofmental-h ealth-and-employers
4 For example, Acas (2018) ‘Mental health in the workplace’. Available online: http://www.acas.org.uk/
5 For an example see ‘Wellbeing in the City’ online learning developed by the Samaritans. Available online:
6 hives.gov.uk/20110207095901/ http://bis.gov.uk/policies/ employmentmatters/strategies/ employeeengagement
7 http://m.acas.org.uk/media/ pdf/s/b/1214-Young-peoplesexperiences-in-the-workplace.pdf 8