LPC suggests ways to tackle one-sided flexibility

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The Low Pay Commission (LPC) is normally asked by the Government to focus on recommending minimum wage rates, but this year it was also asked to consider issuing recommendations to tackle one-sided flexibility.

Now available at https://bit.ly/2PIIpul, these note that Matthew Taylor’s Review of Modern Working Practices identified the problem of one-sided flexibility at work, particularly for low-paid workers.

One-sided flexibility can include: unreasonable requirements around workers’ availability; unpredictability making it difficult for workers to manage finances and an overarching fear of losing future work if they raise a concern or turn hours down.

Although the LPC found evidence of one-sided flexibility, however, it also saw positive examples of flexibility and believe it is important to preserve this genuine two-way model.

It had been asked to consider a higher minimum wage for non-guaranteed hours but Commissioners decided that this did not address one-sided flexibility effectively.

Employers told the Commission that the higher rate would inevitably raise the cost of flexibility, potentially negatively affecting working hours amongst a group who, the evidence suggests, are more likely to already be under-employed.

LPC recommendations

Instead, the LPC has suggested:

  • a right to switch to a contract which reflects a worker’s normal hours

  • a right to reasonable notice of work schedule so that individuals can plan their lives

  • compensation for shift cancellation or curtailment without reasonable notice

  • the provision of a written statement of terms from employers to detail the rights set out above.

LPC Chairman Bryan Sanderson said: “We are pleased to see that the Government will consider our recommendation for a right to switch to a contract that reflects normal working hours as it develops legislation on the ‘right to request a more stable contract’, and that it will consult on our other proposals.”

Comment from Peninsula Employment Law Director Alan Price

While offering zero hour contracts can prove to be beneficial for both employees and their employers, providing flexibility for both parties and allowing companies to save money by only using people when business needs requires it, poor management of this arrangement can lead to serious issues with worker engagement and retention.

Workers can place great importance on job security and their general rights and entitlements, with failure to facilitate and provide these potentially causing a significant breakdown in the overall employment relationship.

Employers should also bear in mind that these recommendations come as part as the Government’s overall response to the 2017 Matthew Taylor review on working practices, which, among other things, will entitle all workers to a written statement of terms outlining all of their rights from day one of employment by April 2020.

Last reviewed 9 January 2019

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