News & Insights

BEIS Committee Makes Recommendations to Government on Workers’ Rights

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee has produced a report, setting out several recommendations to the UK Government regarding workers’ rights and protections.

In April, the Business Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee published a report for the UK Government, in which it made several recommendations to the UK Government regarding, among other things:

  • flexible working;
  • family friendly rights; and
  • worker surveillance.

Flexible working

The Committee flagged that the current labels of “full-time” and “part-time” work are outdated, at a time when flexible working practices are increasingly prevalent. The Committee encouraged the Government to resuscitate the dormant “Employment Bill” in the next King’s Speech, to include more flexible constructions of work and appropriate accompanying rights. The Employment Bill was first mentioned in the 2019 Queen’s Speech, but has been shelved since, with Government ministers claiming that the Bill would be introduced when Parliamentary time allowed. We have already addressed the changes proposed by the Bill – you can read more on that here.

Family friendly rights

The Committee called on the Government to commission research on occurrences of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, to ensure that enhanced protective measures can be put in place for pregnant workers and those taking parental leave, if required. These measures would be in addition to those afforded by the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill, which is intended to better protect workers from redundancy during or after pregnancy or after periods of parental leave – this Bill is currently on its third reading in the Lords. The Committee also recommended that the Government hold a consultation on protecting career prospects for parents who spend time out of work.

Worker surveillance

The Committee also recommended that the Government give workers the right to be notified if technology is to be used to monitor them while they work. They also suggested that the Government hold a consultation on introducing an enforceable code of practice on the use of technology for surveillance of workers. Ian Machray, partner and solicitor in our employment team, hosted a webinar, in collaboration with Ziptech Services, on the dos and don’ts of monitoring remote employees – you can watch that here.

Other recommendations

The Committee supported current plans to establish a single enforcement body, with a wide remit to investigate and enforce employment rights. However, the Committee also requested justification from the Government as to why it has not extended time limits for certain employment claims from three months to six months, and encouraged the Government to apply greater scrutiny to the provisions being “sunsetted” by the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill, in light of the Bill’s potentially drastic impact on employment rights in the UK. We previously addressed the possible consequences of the Bill for employment law here.

If you have any questions regarding flexible working, parental leave and associated rights, the monitoring of employees, or any other employment law questions, please get in touch at [email protected]