LPC publishes its recommendations to tackle one-sided flexibility
18 December 2018
The Low Pay Commission (LPC) has published its assessment of the scale and nature of one-sided flexibility - looking at the impact of introducing a higher minimum wage for non-guaranteed hours and to consider alternative policy ideas.
In addition to the usual brief recommending the minimum wage rates, the LPC was also asked to undertake some additional tasks in relation to the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices. These were to review the scale and nature of the issue of ‘one-sided flexibility’, to assess the impact of introducing a higher minimum wage for non-guaranteed hours and consider alternative policy ideas.
The LPC found evidence of one-sided flexibility as identified in the Taylor Review: the misuse by some employers of flexible working arrangements creating unpredictability, insecurity of income and a reluctance among some workers to assert basic employment rights. However, the LPC also found evidence of positive examples of flexibility and believe it is important to preserve genuine two-way flexibility.
Commissioners thought that the higher minimum wage for non-guaranteed hours did not address one-sided flexibility effectively and had the potential to create many unintended consequences.
The LPC did not hear unqualified backing for the premium from any of the stakeholders it spoke to and have therefore recommended an alternative package of measures:
A right to switch to a contract which reflects your normal hours. This is not about a worker requesting a change to the amount of work they do, but rather a proper recognition of their normal hours. The LPC believe this will help to tackle the fear of employer retaliation by providing a guarantee of the worker’s normal hours. Workers already worried about raising issues in the workplace are less likely to raise a ‘request’ so the right needs to be stronger than this.
A right to reasonable notice of work schedule – to encourage employers to provide workers with their work schedule in advance so that individuals can plan their lives.
Compensation for shift cancellation or curtailment without reasonable notice –to discourage employers from cancelling shifts at the last minute or partway through a shift.
Information to workers – the written statement of terms from employers should detail the rights the LPC is proposing here.
Also recommended is that the Government considers ways to specifically measure the scale of one-sided flexibility.
The Government responded to the LPC’s recommendations in its Good Work Plan, (published 17 December 2018). It said:
“We welcome the Commission’s work and recommendations which are published alongside this document [Good Work Plan]. As set out in this Good Work Plan, the Government remains determined to tackle one-sided flexibility while retaining the flexibility that many people find so valuable. For example, we are taking action by introducing a right to request a more stable contract. The Commission had specific views on this policy, which we will consider as we develop legislation. Alongside this, we will consult on the Low Pay Commission’s other proposals.”
The Low Pay Commission Response to the Government on 'one-sided flexibility' contains the LPC's response to the Government's request to make recommendations on 'one-sided flexibility', as identified in the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices.