01 November 2016
The Institute of Employment Rights (IER) notes the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee’s launch of an inquiry into workers’ rights in the burgeoning “gig” economy but warns against the further fragmentation of labour law.
Signalling that the government is waking up to the major problem of bogus self employment and precarious work in today’s economy, the inquiry is set to cover the status and rights of agency workers, the self-employed, and others involved in the “gig” economy, including related issues of low pay and poor working conditions.
The IER has highlighted for many years that employers are evading employment rights by misclassifying workers as self employed, by hiring through agencies, or through exploitative use of zero-hours contracts.
In our official response to the BEIS Committee, we will advocate a system of universal and effective rights as advocated in our Manifesto for Labour Law: towards a comprehensive revision of workers’ rights where we argue that changes to the law are necessary to strengthen the employment relationship, define it more clearly and promote legal certainty.
We believe that trade unions should negotiate the wages and rights of workers at sectoral and industry level and that such negotiated terms should apply to all workers in the sector, regardless of their legal status, the identify or size of the employer or the origin of the worker.
We also believe that entitlement and enforcement structures need to be simplified: employment rights should be universal – applicable to everyone and available from day one (or following a probation period) – and enforceable via a free-at-the-point-of-use specialist court supported by a network of labour inspectors.