One status – Worker

A radical and important Bill that will give all workers the same employment rights reached the House of Commons yesterday.

The Status of Workers Bill, proposed by Labour peer John Hendy QC, would bring Britain into line with many other economies by having just one category of worker.

The private members’ Bill passed its third reading in the House of Lords on Friday and will today be introduced into the Commons by Labour MP Andy McDonald.

The Bill will then join a list of other private members’ Bills to be considered by the House.

There are currently five different legal categories of worker — employees, limb workers — or people who have a contract but not a contract of employment, such as Uber drivers — the bogus self-employed, personal service companies and the self-employed.

Self-employed status is unaffected by the Hendy proposals but the Bill aims to merge all other categories and give everyone full access to employment rights in line with many European countries.

Lord Hendy said: “Many employers are using the excuse of the pandemic to worsen the terms and conditions of their workers.”

He added the Bill “would prevent greedy, uncaring employers undercutting good employers who are prepared to allow their staff full employment rights.

It would also stop the worst employers freeloading on the state by using categories for their staff that avoid the employers having to pay National Insurance, tax and pensions contributions.

The proposals were also part of Labour’s 2019 general election manifesto, where working people would have been granted sweeping new employment and trade union rights if Labour had won.

The Bill is supported by the Institute of Employment Rights (IER), of which Lord Hendy is chair.

The IER tweeted on Saturday that it was “delighted that the Bill passed its third reading in the House of Lords.”

Patrick Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity union, commented:

We’ve long supported the IER on this. The current legal situation is a mess. There should be one category – Worker“.

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) is also supporting what it hailed as a “transformative Bill.”

A TUC spokesperson said: “For too long, false self-employment has been used as a cover to deny workers their basic rights.

The Status of Workers Bill would give the millions of long-exploited gig workers in the UK greater rights.

The gig economy has become emblematic of workers’ rights abuses in the modern economy, but that could be about to change.

One comment

  1. I can see a lot of jobs suddenly becoming “self employed” positions. Most likely still paid at minimum wage as many are today.
    Self employed also need some protection, positions that are advertised as self employed should be paid at a higher rate than minimum wage to start with. Taking a double hit of NI (employer as well as employee contribution) from it means you would be working for far less than minimum wage after deductions.

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