Business

Workers could be compensated for cancelled shifts

Factory workers Image copyright Getty Images

Zero-hours and "gig economy" workers who have shifts cancelled at short notice could be paid compensation under new government plans.

The proposal is part of a package of measures aimed at improving the rights of low-paid flexible workers.

Under the proposals, they could receive the full value of the shift cancelled or three times the hourly minimum wage for each hour cancelled.

The government is canvassing views on the proposals over the next 12 weeks.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said one in six low-paid workers on flexible hours received no more than a day's notice of a cancelled shift.

In addition, nearly 40% of all UK workers said their hours varied from week to week, with 1.7 million people saying they were very anxious that their working hours could change unexpectedly.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said new business models had opened up "a whole new world of working patterns and opportunities".

He added: "It's vital that workers' rights keep pace with these changes, reflect the modern working environment and tackle the small number of firms that do not treat their staff fairly."

The proposals are intended to build on an earlier set of reforms introduced in December last year.

Those were based on the findings of a review into modern working practices led by Matthew Taylor, a former aide to ex-PM Tony Blair and chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts.

As part of that process, the Low Pay Commission was asked to look into the issue of "one-sided flexibility", and their ideas are at the heart of the latest consultation.

Bryan Sanderson, who chairs the commission, said it was "delighted" that the government was taking it further.

"The proposed changes, part of a package of policies we suggested, have the potential to improve work and life for hundreds of thousands of people," he added.

But the TUC said the proposed changes did not go far enough.

General secretary Frances O'Grady said compensation would be "a step in the right direction", but repeated the TUC's call for zero-hours contracts to be banned.

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