Future of Work inquiry: the questions to answer

A new government inquiry will examine “the rapidly changing nature of work, and the status and rights of agency workers, the self-employed, and those working in the 'gig economy'.”

The inquiry, by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, will also look at low pay and poor working conditions for people working in “non-traditional employee” roles.

Its terms of reference (in the form of 8 questions) are reproduced below. Answers are invited from affected parties online by December 19th. Evidence sessions will run in the new year.

Terms of reference

1. Is the term 'worker' defined sufficiently clearly in law at present? If not, how should it be defined?

What should be the status and rights of agency workers, casual workers, and the self-employed (including those working in the 'gig economy'), for the purposes of tax, benefits and employment law?

2. For those casual and agency workers working in the 'gig economy', is the balance of benefits between worker and employer appropriate?

3. What specific provision should there be for the protection and support of agency workers and those who are not employees? Who should be responsible for such provision – the Government, the beneficiary of the work, a mutual, the individual themselves?

4. What differences should there be between levels of Government support for the self-employed and for employees, for example over statutory sick pay, holiday pay, employee pensions, maternity pay?

  • How should those rights be changed, to ensure fair protection for workers at work?
  • What help should be offered in preparing those people who become self-employed (with, for example, financial, educational and legal advice), and who should be offering such help?

5. Is there evidence that businesses are treating agency workers unfairly, compared with employees?

6. Should there be steps taken to constrain the use by businesses of agency workers?

7. What are the issues surrounding terms and conditions of employees, including the use of zero-hour contracts, definitions of flexible contracts, the role of the Low Pay Commission, and minimum wage enforcement?

8. What is the role of trade unions in representing the self-employed and those not working in traditional employee roles?

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