As you will know, the Bill did not receive a second reading on Friday 26 October and will not be able to make any progress through the House of Commons. However, I agree that this is an important issue and appreciate the concerns that have been raised.
In July 2017, the Government published the Taylor review, an independent report into modern working practices. The Taylor review addressed some of the issues highlighted by the Workers (Definition and Rights) Bill. For example, it recommended that the Government consider a higher Minimum Wage for hours worked that are not guaranteed by contract. It also called for the burden of proof in employment trials to be reversed, so that where employment status is in dispute, the onus is on the employer to prove that a worker is not entitled to employment rights, rather than the worker to prove that they are.
While the Taylor review made some welcome recommendations, it was a missed opportunity to tackle the problem of insecure employment. Yet the Government’s response to the review failed to meet even its most basic recommendations. Rather than introduce the radical changes to employment law we need to protect workers, the Government simply launched four consultations on the areas covered by the review. I do not believe this is good enough.
At the 2017 General Election, I stood on a manifesto that pledged to ban zero-hours contracts so that every worker gets a guaranteed number of hours each week. I also committed to giving all workers equal rights from day one, whether part-time or full-time, temporary or permanent, so that working conditions are not driven down. I can therefore assure you that I will continue to press the Government for real action to improve the lives of the millions of people in insecure work and for an end to contracts that allow the exploitation of workers.