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Labour’s proposal for single worker status
by Susie Hughes at 12:55 28/07/21 (News on Business)
Labour has announced plans to create a single status of ‘worker’ for all but the genuinely self-employed, with rights from day one of employment.
A single status of ‘worker’ would replace the three existing employment categories and remove qualifying periods for basic rights and protections to give workers day one rights in the job.

As part of Labour’s plan to end what it describes as 'insecure employment', all workers, including those in the 'gig economy' would receive rights and protections including Statutory Sick Pay, National Minimum Wage entitlement, holiday pay, paid parental leave, and protection against unfair dismissal.

Alongside Labour’s commitment to extend Statutory Sick Pay to the self-employed, this would make 6.1 million additional working people eligible to claim Statutory Sick Pay.

Gig economy
The proposal follows a number of key legal cases on the gig economy where the central dispute was whether the claimant was a worker, and thus entitled to the minimum wage and holiday pay, or self-employed.

Andy McDonald MP, Labour’s Shadow Employment Rights and Protections Secretary, said: “Millions of workers are in insecure employment with low pay and few rights and protections, particularly key workers whose efforts got the country through the pandemic.

“A lack of basic rights and protections forces working people into poverty and insecurity. This is terrible for working people, damaging for the economy, and as we have seen throughout the pandemic, devastating for public health.

“We need a new deal for working people. Labour would ensure that all work balances the flexibility workers want with the security they deserve.”

Qdos - 'Caution'
Employment status specialists, Qdos, urged caution so that it didn't impact on the genuinely self-employed who did not seek these rights.

Seb Maley from Qdos said: “On the face of it, granting vulnerable workers employment rights from day one would be a smart, sensible move. In recent years, the rapid growth of the gig economy has left many workers in a confusing halfway house - somewhere in-between employment and self-employment. By grouping the likes of Uber drivers and Deliveroo riders together with employees, they get the protection that many want and need.

“But proposals like this require careful thought and I urge caution. First and foremost, they must not impair the genuinely self-employed, most of whom do not want employment rights. These people want to retain the freedom that comes with working independently.

“Secondly, the potential tax implications need to be made clear. Right now, many gig economy workers, for example, are classed as ‘workers’ but still pay tax as a self-employed person. How this would work if Labour’s proposals materialised remains to be seen and could have major implications, not just for the individual but the companies that engage them.”

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Susie Hughes © Shout99 2021

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