The emergence of so-called new forms of employment relationships between
workers and employers has put a strain on existing employment protections. In
particular, the misuse of zero hours contracts has been a major concern for CAS over the past three years.
There is some ambiguity over whether some individuals are classed as ‘workers’ or ‘employees’. One possible solution may be to remove this distinction in employment law.
Alternative approaches include extending the rights of ‘workers’ to include protection from unfair dismissal and the right to parental leave and pay.
There are a number of cases where CAB clients have been inappropriately classed as ‘self-employed’ by employers or agencies in an apparent attempt to deny them rights or make deductions from pay. These individuals should be entitled to full rights as employees.
Use of zero hours contracts should be considered inappropriate where a worker would prefer a more secure part-time or full-time contract; if it causes hardship to individuals due to regularly changing patterns of work; if it denies individuals basic employees’ rights; if it acts as a deterrent to workers asserting their basic employment rights.
CAS recommends that a new statutory body, an Employment Commission, should be created to oversee the enforcement of employment law, with the legislative teeth to target rogue employers.
CAS recommends that the Government continue to invest additional resources in the enforcement of payment of the National Minimum Wage to ensure that its payment is promoted and all reports of underpayment can be actively investigated.