The Government’s ongoing exploration of the so-called gig economy and modern working practices has suggested that UK employers who offer short-notice shift work to employees on zero-hours contracts should pay their staff a “premium rate”.
The comments come from Matthew Taylor, the man behind the long-running Taylor Review, which was first launched in November 2016 to review employment rights in the modern working world. Findings of the review will be published in June later this year.
In an interview with the Financial Times last week, Mr Taylor described the position of zero-hours workers as “precarious”, arguing that such workers are often at the mercy of a “one-sided” employment model, which demands their flexibility.
He said: “The problem in the labour market is not security of work, it is security of income.
“We’ve been hearing today about people in the social care sector who are told ‘be ready to leave the house at seven in the morning’, then a phone call [comes to say] ‘no we haven’t any work for you today’,” he added.
Following recent research from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which found that the number of Britons on zero-hours contracts has risen from 101,000 to 905,000 in the last year, Mr Taylor is arguing that significant change is needed to the zero-hours model.
He has suggested a zero-hours “premium rate”, which would effectively force employers to pay a top-up amount on the minimum wage when offering shifts to zero-hours workers at short-notice, or not guaranteed in advance.
He added that under such a system, employers would be incentivised to offer more hours of regular work to their zero-hours staff.
“I think we can encourage employers to be a bit less lazy about transferring risk, even if it means [an employer] offers 15 hours a week rather than one hour,” he said.
However, Mr Taylor has stressed that, currently, the idea is still very much up for discussion.
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