CIPD responds to Government plans to give new protections to workers on variable hours

Millions of flexible workers stand to benefit from new rights and extra protections if they lose out on work, under proposed government reforms.

Commenting on new protections for workers on variable hours, Ben Willmott, head of public policy for the CIPD said:

“The Government’s proposals will provide better support for vulnerable workers while protecting the flexibility of the UK labour market.  

“If we want to create fairer, more inclusive workplaces we must address one-sided flexibility that benefits businesses but puts individuals at a disadvantage. Zero hours contracts can offer people flexibility they need but it’s been far too easy for some employers to cancel shifts with very little or no short notice. Workers not only lose out on pay but also suffer unnecessary travel costs and disruption. It’s absolutely right to make companies pay reasonable compensation if this happens and we welcome this, and other measures proposed to protect workers on variable hours.

“The introduction of a right to switch to a more predictable work pattern should give workers more choice over their working arrangements. However, circumstances in which employers can refuse this will need to be clear.  A right to reasonable notice of work schedules is also a proposal that will be welcomed by atypical workers and good employers as long as there is flexibility over what is ‘reasonable’ given the nature of the work.”

“The clampdown on poor practices, alongside the announcement of a single enforcement body to oversee these efforts, is an important step towards the Government delivering on the Good Work Plan. However, these measures will need to be delivered alongside better support for businesses, and small firms in particular. Smaller businesses can struggle to have the knowledge, resources and capacity to effectively manage their people, which can lead them to unintentionally fall foul of employment legislation. The provision of better support and resources for smaller employers, to help them improve their people management practices, should be part of a modern and progressive enforcement system.”

The CIPD will shortly be publishing a guide for employers on how to manage atypical and flexible working practices in a way that achieves a ‘win-win’ for both employers and individuals working in this way.

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