firm news

Emma O'Connor
Emma O'Connor,
BIS announces review of employment status
22 October 2014

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has announced a 'wide-ranging employment law review' to help clarify and potentially strengthen the employment status of up to a million workers.

According to BIS, many workers are currently unaware of their employment status and the employment rights they are entitled to. Many people could be on 'worker' employment contracts and consequently have fewer rights (such as unfair dismissal or maternity pay) than the vast majority of people who are on 'employee' contracts. Likewise many employers are also unsure of the rights of their workforce. Because of this uncertainty the government is unable to collect meaningful data and get a complete picture of the overall workforce in the UK. This review has come following a recent review of zero-hours contracts.

BIS is planning to investigate the current employment framework to determine whether certain employment rights need to be extended to cover more categories of workers. Interim findings are anticipated by the end of the year, with recommendations on any next steps to be submitted by BIS to government ministers by March 2015. The changes being considered could go as far as extending all employment rights to workers.

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.

Workers should not be finding out that they are not protected by law once they get to employment tribunal. We need a system that is fair, simple and transparent - an environment where businesses feel more confident knowing what type of contracts to hire staff on and where individuals know their rights and have the security they deserve."

For more details about the review, please refer to:

For further information, please contact our Employment Team on 0118 952 7284 or submit an enquiry.

Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.

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