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Employment Tsar suggests that non-guaranteed hours should be paid at a premium rate

BY Donald MacKinnon
Employment Law & HR
BG Purple

Matthew Taylor, former adviser to Tony Blair and, since October, the Government’s employment tsar, has suggested that employers who cannot guarantee hours for their employees should have to pay an enhanced minimum wage.  The reason behind Taylor’s idea is to incentivise previously ‘lazy employers’ to guarantee more hours in advance. He told the Financial Times;

“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, at least that’s 15 hours that I can know I’m going to be able to pay my mortgage,”

Taylor will publish his full report in the summer so it will be interesting to see how many of his proposals the Government run with. It is expected that the report will highlight the struggles of people in ‘insecure work’ including those on zero-hours contracts, agency, casual and seasonal workers.  He has also suggested that the use of ‘gig economy’ type jobs such as Uber and Deliveroo are simply an attempt by the organisations to avoid paying tax. He believes that since there have been a few landmark cases in recent months that more work should be done by the law in deciding whether workers are self-employed or employees rather than the courts.

The Labour Party has stated that if it wins the general election, they will follow New Zealand’s lead and ban zero hours’ contracts. The Resolution Foundation has suggested however, that zero hours may have peaked and that Brexit may lead to a slowdown in the number of zero hour contracts. This is because employers may feel that as the supply of labour may fall they will not be able to fill posts without guaranteeing minimum hours. There has already been a sharp reduction in the growth in zero hours over the last 12 months yet the number is at its highest ever level at 910,000 up from 200,000 at the turn of the century.

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