Empowering the Freelance Economy

Labour’s employment proposals: freelancer exploitation concerns remain until clarity improves

Freelancers could still be exploited if more clarity is not provided about zero-hours contracts under Labour Party proposals
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The Labour Party’s New Deal for Working People which came out in May is a “watered down” version of their original proposals on employment law, according to employment law specialists at Clyde & Co. What does this mean for freelancers?

As previously reported by The Freelance Informer, the new rules aim to prevent the misuse of zero-hours contracts. While an outright ban was initially proposed, the Labour government seems to have shifted gears. Instead, it appears employers will still be allowed to use zero-hours contracts as long as they’re not considered exploitative. However, “exploitative” in this context is yet to be clarified.

However, it’s likely that if an employer doesn’t guarantee any work hours but expects the worker to be always available, it could be deemed exploitative. A new law is expected to outline the minimum standards for zero-hours contracts, including a new right to a contract that reflects the hours regularly worked over a 12-week period.

It’s also worth noting that the planned right to request a predictable working pattern, initially set for September 2024, might be replaced with Labour’s more comprehensive proposals in this area.

How quickly could we expect to see changes?

A proposed Employment Rights Bill aims to shake up workplace law, with reforms beginning within the first 100 days of a new government. While major changes will take time, freelancers could see some quick wins.

For example, the removal of the lower earnings limit on statutory sick pay could be implemented rapidly. Other proposals, like reviewing parental leave or simplifying worker status, will require more extensive consultation and take longer to roll out.

Despite the varied timelines, this bill signals a significant shift in the employment landscape, with potential benefits for freelancers down the line. Stay tuned for updates on how these reforms could impact your work.

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