Region's businesses warn workers rights shake-up must not 'unduly burden' employers
East Anglian business leaders have welcomed new rights for part-time and flexible workers announced by the government - but warned businesses must not be disadvantaged by the changes.
Following the publication of Matthew Taylor’s review of modern working practices – focusing on the gig economy phenomenon – the government has issued a plan based on its recommendations which will see flexible workers receive sick pay and holiday entitlements from day one and the right to request more stable contracts from their employers.
Despite worries that it could inhibit the freedom of workers – and consumers – who benefit from this kind of work, the business community has been broadly accepting of the proposals in the Good Work plan.
But Chris Sargisson, chief executive of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, said care must be taken not to “unduly burden firms with further costs and bureaucracy”.
“Success at work is crucial to our people, businesses and Norfolk as a whole,” he said.
“It’s right that the government plans to consult further on many of the recommendations of the review and we hope will work closely with businesses and employees to protect against any unintended consequences which would undermine the competitiveness of the UK labour market.”
David Howell, East Anglia lead at the Federation of Small Businesses, said the government was right to focus on “good work”.
“With the unveiling of a raft of new rules, the government needs to remember that legislation is not always the answer. Incentives and nudges are often the best route to improving modern working practices.”
He added that while “false self-employment” needed to be “stamped out”, it should not be done to the detriment of the “genuinely self-employed”.
Neil Carberry, managing director for people and infrastructure at the CBI, said firm would be “keen to play their part” in promoting greater awareness of employee rights.
“Business agrees with the government that flexibility and fairness must go hand in hand, and it is right to review rules to ensure they are fit for the 21st century,” he said.
The report has been met with reproach by trade unions, which have questioned its efficacy.
Tim Roache, GMB general secretary, said: “This report looks like a consummate guide to tinkering around the edges – like trying to put out a forest fire with a water pistol.
“If the government is serious about making life better for working people, giving workers the right to request that their bosses stop paying them poorly or treating them badly is an unfunny joke.”