Zero hours contract but required to be available? Scheduled work cancelled? Sent home early? One-sided working flexibility to be challenged

An open consultation has been launched by UK government in relation to proposals by the Low Pay Commission (LPC) to tackle one sided flexible working practices and provide additional worker protections. This forms part of the Good Work Plan.

One of the issues raised through the governments review by Matthew Taylor was that a minority of employers abuse flexibility and transfer excessive amounts of risk to workers with little or no corresponding benefit to the worker from the flexible arrangement. This has been termed as ‘one-sided flexibility’, with examples of employers cancelling shifts at short notice or sending workers home when customer demand is low.

Matthew Taylor CBE

The LPC recommends a package of measures, which includes:

• A right to switch to a contract which reflects the normal hours worked

• A right to reasonable notice of work schedule

• Compensation for shift cancellation or curtailment without reasonable notice

• Information for workers

Evidence showed that some workers were allocated shifts with limited notice, making it difficult for workers to plan their lives or find other work. This contrasted to good practice by many employers who worked hard to plan ahead and provide good notice of future requirements.

Also that some employers cancelled scheduled shifts at the last minute which is considered unfair by both employers and workers. The LPC recommended that workers who have their shifts cancelled without reasonable notice should be compensated. The LPC believes this would encourage employers to better plan their shifts and allow workers to better manage their lives.

Many of these flexible workers are not receiving their entitled holiday pay. Whether work is scheduled or not, annual leave of 5.6 weeks is still an entitlement based on an average of time actually worked on a pro-rate or accrued basis. The government estimate that 1.8 million workers are currently not receiving this payment right!

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