The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee has launched an inquiry into the 'future world of work and rights of workers'.


Even before the recent decision that Uber drivers were workers, there was widespread media coverage surrounding employment status and rights, working practices and agency staff. Zero-hours contracts are never too far from the headlines either.

The chair of the inquiry has stated:

"The nature of work is undoubtedly changing...This might provide flexibility and choice for some people, but unleash insecurity and squeezed working conditions for others. With these economic and technological changes shaking up the world of work, it's vitally important that workers are protected. In this inquiry we want to hear from all interested parties so that we can help the Government foster a vibrant, dynamic, innovative economy with laws that deliver the benefits of flexibility but which prevent exploitation".

What does it ask?

The questions include:

  • Is the term 'worker' sufficiently clear in law? If not, how should it be defined?
  • What should be the status and rights of agency workers, casual workers and the self-employed for the purposes of tax and employment law?
  • For casual and agency workers in the gig economy, is the balance of benefits between worker and employer appropriate?
  • What provision should there be for the protection and support of agency workers and those who are not employees? Who should be responsible for such provision - the Government, the beneficiary of the work, a mutual, the individual?
  • What differences should there be between levels of Government support for the self-employed and employees eg. as regards statutory sick pay, holiday pay, pensions, maternity pay?
  • Is there evidence that businesses are treating agency workers unfairly, compared with employees?
  • Should there be steps taken to constrain the use by businesses of agency workers?
  • What are the issues surrounding terms and conditions of employees, including the use of zero-hour contracts, definitions of flexible contracts, the role of the Low Pay Commission, and minimum wage enforcement?
  • What is the role of trade unions in representing the self-employed and those not working in traditional employee roles?

If you want to respond

If you want to respond, you can do so online before Monday 19 December 2016.


Kathleen Morrison

Practice Development Lawyer