I am assured that the Government will always prioritise the principle of fairness in the workplace, whether it is in the job application process, ensuring equal pay for equal work, or people’s working conditions. Action has been taken to ban exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts while a number of recommendations from the Taylor Review have been taken forward to ensure workers’ rights are not only protected but upgraded.
I understand that the Government will build on existing employment law with measures that protect those in low paid work and the gig economy. For example, it will create a single enforcement body and crack down on any employer abusing employment law, whether by taking workers’ tips or refusing them sick pay. It will also ensure that workers have the right to request a more predictable contract and other reasonable protections.
More broadly, I am encouraged that the Government also wants to look at other ways to support working families in the UK. The flexible labour market gives our businesses a competitive advantage internationally and works for the majority of the population. However, new business models are changing working practices and I welcome that the Government is working to strengthen day one employment rights and increase the productivity of businesses. Under plans to modernise the way we work, employees will have the right to request flexible working from day one. Delivering on a commitment set out in the Government’s 2019 manifesto, around 2.2 million more people will be given the right to request flexible working. Furthermore, the Government will also introduce a day one right to one-week’s unpaid leave for carers balancing a job with caring responsibilities.
Ultimately, some of the recommendations of the Taylor Review are complex, and I am glad that the Government has been engaging with stakeholders. When parliamentary time will allow, employment measures will be brought forward to tackle all these issues and more, in a way that will address the Taylor Review and the changing flexible work market that continues to develop beyond the pandemic.
The Government is committed to ensuring that any legislative reforms to employment framework are fully informed by stakeholder engagement and scrutiny. Therefore ministers have consulted in detail in most measures proposed and have carefully considered responses alongside regular stakeholder engagement.
I am aware of the issue of one-sided flexibility where some employers misuse flexible working arrangements, creating an unpredictability in working hours, income insecurity and a reluctance among workers to assert basic employment rights. As you may be aware, the Low Pay Commission published proposals to address this issue and I welcome that the Government undertook a consultation on this. The feedback is currently being reviewed and I will continue to monitor this issue closely.
I note the frustration over the exclusion of the Employment Bill from the Queen’s Speech 2022. Indeed, the Government will bring forward reforms to our employment framework when Parliamentary time allows it. In the meantime, it will continue to take the necessary action to support business, protect jobs and build a high wage economy.