Self-employed Workers

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th July 2018.

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Photo of Eleanor Smith Eleanor Smith Labour, Wolverhampton South West 12:00 am, 17th July 2018

What steps he is taking to ensure that employment law protects and supports self-employed workers.

Photo of Claire Perry Claire Perry The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)

The hon. Lady will know through her long and distinguished service in various union careers that the challenge of ensuring that all workers, whether employees, workers or self-employed, receive the rights and protections they are entitled to without having to fight for them is at the heart of the Taylor review. I hope that she and her colleagues will welcome the recommendations made.

Photo of Eleanor Smith Eleanor Smith Labour, Wolverhampton South West

Like my hon. Friend Rachel Reeves, I want to draw the Minister’s attention to the plight of many self-employed workers in today’s modern workforce. More and more people are classed as self-employed, but they have no protection rights. They have no redundancy rights, no pension protections, no sick pay, no holiday pay and no parental leave pay. Why do the Government believe that self-employed people do not deserve the same entitlements as employees?

Photo of Claire Perry Claire Perry The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)

I think the hon. Lady probably knows that the Government do not believe that. However, she has identified the real challenge that is out there in the workplace. It is not always clear what status an employee has, and that is something that we must clarify. One of the fundamental points in the Taylor review related to employment status and access to statutory employment rights. I am not ruling out being able to do more for self-employed workers, but at the heart of the review is the need to understand the definitions involved, and to ensure that people in those categories are given the rights and protections that they deserve and for which the hon. Lady and I have campaigned.

Photo of Ellie Reeves Ellie Reeves Labour, Lewisham West and Penge

Companies such as Uber and Pimlico Plumbers wrongly categorise their workforces as self-employed in order to deny them basic rights such as holiday pay and even the national minimum wage. I have heard what the Minister has had to say today, but when will the Government finally clamp down on false self-employment and exploitative practices?

Photo of Claire Perry Claire Perry The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)

The hon. Lady will know that we have already made progress. Up to 300,000 workers who are entitled to payslips will now receive them, all workers are given a statement of their terms and conditions from day one, and 1.2 million agency workers are given a breakdown showing who pays them. We know that we must do more, but we want to respond carefully to the hundreds of responses to the Taylor review consultation that we have received, so that we can make the necessary changes and ensure that those practices are stamped out.