7 February 2018

As we reported earlier this week ("Government promises enhanced working rights for millions"), Ministers think that their response to the Taylor Review of modern working practices will make the UK a world-leader in "the changing world of work".

Business groups and trade unions are not so sure.

Jane Gratton, Head of Business Environment at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said that the Government was right to delay implementing some of the recommendations of the Review by consulting on their impact.

Ministers must be careful, she went on, not to unduly burden firms with further costs and bureaucracy,

For the CBI, Managing Director for People and Infrastructure, Neil Carberry, welcomed the possibility of strong enforcement against the small number of firms whose poor practices tarnish the reputation of the vast majority.

"Changes to UK employment law must promote entrepreneurship and maintain the flexibility that has created so many jobs," he insisted.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said that the Government lacked ambition, having taken only baby steps by producing plans that will fail to stop the hire and fire culture of zero-hours contracts or sham self-employment.

"Ministers need to up their game," she said. "At the very least they must end the Undercutters’ Charter that means agency workers can be paid less than permanent staff doing the same job."

Ms O'Grady was referring to the "Swedish Derogation" loophole, which allows agency workers to be paid less than permanent staff even when they do exactly the same job. The Government has promised to consult on possible bringing this practice to an end.

A warmer welcome for the proposals came from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) which praises the decision to focus more on the enforcement of existing rights as this can help ensure that bad practice will be "stamped out wherever it exists".

The Institute of Directors (IoD) echoed the point made by the BCC. With the possibility of the "biggest shake-up of employment law in generations", it thinks Ministers are right to consult further.