Vince Cable, Business Secretary, has recently announced a new, wide-ranging employment review to help analyse the status of those on 'worker' employment contracts, who often hold fewer basic rights when compared to those on 'employee' contracts.
The news follows much controversy recently over workers on zero hours contracts, which resulted in a review and upcoming legislation to improve the rights of zero hours workers. It was revealed that many of these workers had no right to maternity pay or against unfair dismissal, putting them at a severe disadvantage than the vast majority of those on 'employee' contracts.
It seems that, for most people, they are unaware of their employment status, and also of what employment rights they are entitled to or not, which can mean years of unfavourable treatment can go by with the employee being none the wiser. On the other hand, employers can also be unclear as to what rights their workforce is entitled to, which is potentially leaves them open to a costly legal challenge if they make an error.
Considering the complexities of employment law, it is not surprising that so many employees and employers alike lack knowledge of their rights and responsibilities, which is why the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will analyse the current employment framework in the new review, with the hope to clarify and simply the law in the future, and also extend employment rights to more people.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "One of the most striking features of our recession has been the high levels of employment that our workforce has maintained during some very trying times. Employers were resourceful in the jobs they continued to offer and employees remained flexible in the work patterns and pay they agreed to. That was the right thing to do at the time to keep Britain working.
"However now the economy is firmly on the road to recovery, it is important that the fruits of the recovery are shared by all. Some types of contracts which offer fewer employment rights, and which were never designed to be widely used, have become much more commonplace. As the economy recovers, it is right to explore giving a silent minority of workers the security and rights enjoyed by the majority of employees. Confident, secure employees spend money, which is ultimately good for UK plc", he added.
Clearly, a fair, simple and transparent system is greatly needed, to ensure that individuals know their rights, and businesses can feel confident when dealing with employment law. In turn, this will encourage workers and employers to discuss and resolve problems openly, rather than ending up in a dispute at the employment tribunal.
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