A review of working practices in the UK has said companies have a responsibility for those employed in their supply chains and they should be required to report on their use of agency services.
The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices said firms should have to report how many requests they have received from agency workers for a permanent position.
The review quoted Unison, which said firms should be required to report on the use of zero hour contracts in their supply chains, but did not go this far in its recommendations.
“The review believes firmly that the tone for fair and decent work is set at the top of an organisation, reflecting the demands of shareholders and consumers and extending out into the workforce and the wider supply chain,” said the report.
“We very much share the view that company owners have a wider responsibility towards the people who work for them – both directly and through their supply chain – and should take this responsibility seriously.”
The review said government should require “companies beyond a certain size to make public their model of employment and use of agency services beyond a certain threshold”.
It said firms should have to “report on how many requests they have received (and number agreed) from agency workers for permanent positions with a hirer after a certain period”.
The report said 905,000 people in the UK, or 2.8% of the workforce, are reported to be on zero hours contracts. It said around 1.3m people were working in the gig economy, using apps such as Uber and Deliveroo to sell their labour.
The review recommends the creation of a new class of worker called a “dependent contractor”, to describe people who are eligible for worker rights but are not employees.
In a submission to the review Unison said: “Companies and public bodies should be required to report on the use of zero and short hour contracts and agency work in annual reports, including in their supply chains.
“Workers employed on zero and short hours contracts should have a right to be paid a premium for any non contractual hours worked and compensation for shifts cancelled at short notice.”
Simon Whitehead, partner at HRC Law, said: “The principle of the review is sound and some of the issues raised are absolutely vital, but the reality is businesses don’t need reams more legislation to contend with.
“We’ve had enough change and the introduction of high volumes of legislation will likely cause more ambiguity and too much pressure in certain areas of the economy which are already feeling the strain of squeezed margins and an uncertain future of workforce availability due to Brexit.”
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