Skip to content

27 February 2018

New policies needed to ‘tackle imbalance and unfairness’ in employment

3 mins
The Resolution Foundation has called for a ‘new approach’ in tackling the ‘fundamental flaws’ in the labour market, arguing its proposed ‘better jobs deal’ will ‘reduce the risk that a cohort of young workers find themselves unable to progress’. The think tank highlights the barriers younger workers face in employment. Lawyers at Bindmans LLP, Mishcon de Reya LLP and Stewarts Law LLP agree further action is needed to protect vulnerable workers and those in insecure jobs, but question whether the recommendations will be actioned by the government.

The Resolution Foundation urges the government and employment sector to ensure that progression and worker development is ‘not an afterthought’, particularly with Brexit.

Recommended measures in its ‘better jobs deal’ include:

  • Enhanced security—extended statutory maternity, paternity and shared parental pay to the self-employed, and protection for workers refusing non-guaranteed hours
  • Improved workplaces—improved transparency, representation and sectoral deals for low-paying sectors
  • Greater opportunity—financial incentives to search for jobs outside local areas and support for young workers to progress in low-paying sectors

‘Stark reality’ of zero-hours contracts

Employment partner at Bindmans LLP, Shazia Khan, says the Resolution Foundation has ‘yet again highlighted the stark reality of how zero-hours contracts continue to affect those on long term, insecure low-paid work’.

Joseph Lappin from Stewarts Law LLP notes that zero-hours contracts have been described as ‘an abuse of power by big companies’, because of the lack of employment protections on offer, such as paid leave or holiday pay:

Someone on a zero-hours contract rarely has any guarantee of work and during those periods when there is no requirement to work, they are not paid. Although this type of arrangement suits some, particularly university students, for a large number, the result is job insecurity

‘More tangible’ governmental action required

Asa Waring, legal director at Mishcon de Reya LLP, adds that this research ties in with the Taylor Review, with the government ‘committing to determining how to support individuals to obtain better quality work and to publishing a list of measures in the autumn’. However, Waring argues that this is not enough:

 More tangible action is likely to also be required to protect vulnerable workers and those in insecure jobs, while preserving flexibility

The government has stated that it will introduce a right for workers, including those on zero-hours contracts, to request a contract with more predictable and secure working conditions and make it easier for people in atypical work to establish continuity of service

Consultation is underway and, while not focussing specifically on younger workers, it is hoped that increased security will benefit not just the disproportionately affected younger generation, as shown by this research, but employers and the economy as a whole too.

 ‘Changes unlikely to be implemented soon’

Khan says the recommendations are welcomed to tackle the ‘imbalance and unfairness that these contracts cause’. She continues: ‘It is hoped that a radical root and branch reform will go some way to secure a degree of certainty for a clearly vulnerable section of our work force in assisting them to secure their livelihoods.’

However, Lappin questions whether these changes will be implemented soon:

Many businesses will oppose the recommendations, especially in the current climate of low productivity levels and stagnant economic growth.With the government handicapped by its focus on securing a Brexit deal with the EU, we do not think that the measures proposed by Resolution will be implemented any time soon.

Source: Report: The kids aren’t alright—A new approach to tackle the challenges faced by young people in the UK labour market

This article was first published on Lexis Nexis.

How can we help you?

We are here to help. If you have any questions for us, please get in touch below.