Government proposes major overhaul of modern employment practices

The Government has proposed a series of measures which could significantly shake up the gig economy.

Among them include holiday and sick pay entitlements and the right to request more stable work.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said the plans will affect all workers, not just those on zero-hour or agency contracts.

The measures are a product of the Matthew Taylor review into changing law practices. The review found that the strength of the UK’s labour market “is built on flexibility” but a “clearer focus is needed on quality of work as well as the quantity of jobs”.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “The Taylor Review said that the current approach to employment is successful but that we should build on that success, in preparing for future opportunities.

“We want to embrace new ways of working, and to do so we will be one of the first countries to prepare our employment rules to reflect the new challenges.

“We will take forward Matthew Taylor’s recommendations and commit to pursuing the quality of work as well as number of jobs.”

What the new measures include:

Workers’ rights

  • take further action to ensure unpaid interns are not doing the job of a worker
  • introducing a new naming scheme for employers who fail to pay employment tribunal awards
  • quadrupling employment tribunal fines for employers showing malice, spite or gross oversight to £20,000 and considering increasing penalties for employers who have previously lost similar cases

Fair pay

  • providing all 1.2 million agency workers with a clear breakdown of who pays them and any costs or charges deducted from their wages
  • asking the Low Pay Commission to consider the impact of higher minimum wage rates for workers on zero-hour contracts
  • considering repealing laws allowing agencies to employ workers on cheaper rates


  • defining ‘working time’ for flexible workers who find jobs through apps or online so they know when they should be being paid
  • launching a task force with business to promote awareness and take-up of the right to request flexible working introduced in 2014
  • making sure new and expectant mothers know their workplace rights and raise awareness amongst employers of their obligations
  • launching a new campaign to encourage more working parents to share childcare through Shared Parental Leave – a right introduced in 2015

For advice on employment law matters in regards to the zero-hours and agency contracts, including defending or pursuing an Employment Tribunal claim, please contact Andrew Firman or Kate Boguslawska or visit our website.