Introduction What was the Commission? What did it find? What are the chances of progress?
About the Commission on Vulnerable Employment (CoVE)
An independent Commission with union, business, academic and civil society representation Chair: Brendan Barber, General Secretary, TUC Kevin Beeston, Chairman, SERCO Belinda Earl, Chief Executive, Jaeger Paul Myners, Chair, Land Securities Group Mohammed Aziz, Director, Faithwise Fran Bennett, Senior Research Fellow, Oxford University Madeleine Bunting, Associate Editor and Columnist, The Guardian Julia Verne, Coordinator, Polski Bristol Gail Cartmail, Assistant General Secretary, Unite - Amicus Debbie Coulter, Deputy General Secretary, GMB Jack Dromey, Deputy General Secretary,Unite - TGWU John Hannett, General Secretary, USDAW Leslie Manasseh, Deputy General Secretary, Connect Frances OGrady, Deputy General Secretary, TUC Dave Prentis, General Secretary, UNISON Alan Ritchie, General Secretary, UCATT
Undertaking an evidence based investigation, concluding during 2008 Questions including: –What is vulnerable employment? –What is the extent of vulnerable employment in the UK? –What are the conditions that allow vulnerable employment to exist? –How can vulnerable employment be reduced? –What problems are caused by vulnerable employment? Extensive work programme: –7 full Commission meetings – including evidence hearings –Public consultation –Range of commissioned research –4 regional fieldtrips
Final conclusions Consensus over key recommendations A focus on vulnerable employment (less on vulnerable workers ) defined as: precarious work that places people at risk of continuing poverty and injustice resulting from an imbalance of power in the employer-worker relationship Focusing upon experiences of work, not upon the legal status of workers or the jobs they do Taking into account multiple factors that impact upon workers power, and therefore their vulnerability
What did the Commission find?
Vulnerable employment characterises the minority of the very worst jobs Key contextual factors –Complex employment status and differential employment rights –Low pay, no pay cycles –More workers employed by small businesses and increased outsourcing –Increased migration –Low trade union density among low-paid workers A conservative estimate is that there are around 2 million vulnerable workers in the UK
Paula was an agency cleaner for nine years – on the minimum wage with no job security and poorer terms and conditions than permanent staff. During this time she was barely living.
When Imran wasnt paid for two weeks he complained. Eventually his agency told him they had no record of him ever working for them, and asked him not to come back. Imran is stressed and humiliated.
Mrs Begum is paid £1 per item sewn, and can only do three or four items an hour: this gives a pay rate significantly below the minimum wage. Her employer tells her she isnt entitled to sick pay or pay slips because she is part-time.
Robert used to be a miner. Since the pit closed hes been a self-employed car valet. He is encouraged to arrive at 6am, and doesnt leave until 8pm. In the last 15 years his rate has been cut 5 times. It currently averages £250 a month.
Wide ranging recommendations for trade unions, employers and government A continuous national campaign to improve employment rights awareness –A social marketing approach –Making use of employer, trade union and civil society networks Tackling employment rights advice deserts –Increasing specialist advisers nationally –Giving local authorities a duty to fund advice –Reviewing the impact of legal aid reform on the availability of employment rights advice
Wide ranging recommendations for trade unions, employers and government Trade union commitment to organising among vulnerable workers –Recognising the importance of organising whole workplaces –Coordinated organising initiatives Access to skills and flexible welfare benefits –Review of access to training for vulnerable workers –Support for the Skills Pledge –Flexibility in the benefits system, particular with respect to disregards
Wide ranging recommendations for trade unions, employers and government Strengthened enforcement –Extension of GLA licensing regime into sectors characterised by vulnerable employment –Powers for employment tribunals to enforce their own awards and issue recommendations –Coordinated working between enforcement agencies – with strategic leadership from a new Fair Employment Commission and new powers for state agencies to enforce a wider range of rights
Wide ranging recommendations for trade unions, employers and government Making use of procurement –Recognising the potential of private and public sector procurement to improve treatment at work Closing the loopholes –Review of employment status –Equal treatment for agency workers –Review of temp to perm arrangements –Reform of the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS)
Wide ranging recommendations for trade unions, employers and government Review of immigration restrictions –Abolition of the Workers Registration Scheme –Review of the implementation of the Points Based System (PBS) for low-skilled migrants – and retaining protection for Migrant Domestic Workers –Earned regularisation opportunities –Right to work for asylum seekers
What are the chances of progress?
Some Government policy developments EU Directive on Equal Treatment of Agency Workers Agency workers entitled to statutory sick pay Employment Bill amendments on enforcement of tribunal awards and information sharing between enforcement agencies Fair Employment Enforcement Board + £6 million Retained rights for migrant domestic workers Union Modernisation Fund – vulnerable workers focus Introduction of time off to train – and a focus on access to skills for those in vulnerable work Ministerial commitments to advertising and awareness Ongoing Ministerial meetings on other specific issues
TUC work programme Training and information for union organisers A focus on potential for procurement to improve UK supply chain practice Focus on the real relationship between flexible labour markets and growth Campaign on employment status reform Continued lobbying on migration regulations and welfare reform
The future? Conservative policy –Deregulate (although some questions on how without EU withdrawal) Labour policy –Some moves towards a focus on quality of work? A recognition of the existence of vulnerable work and of limited enforcement Continued commitment to Tax Credits and development of specific initiatives on temporary work (e.g. in and out of work pilots) Some recognition of cycles of temporary low-paid work, and of negative health impacts such employment can have
The future? But… – No coherent agenda on improving low-paid work –Welfare to work policies still focus on all work being good for you –Hutton - no more rights; Mandelson - review of flexible working? –A vulnerable worker still defined as someone: working in an environment where the risk of being denied employment rights is high and who does not have the capacity or means to protect themselves from that abuse. Both factors need to be present. A worker may be susceptible to vulnerability, but that is only significant if an employer exploits that vulnerability.
In the TUCs view We need a fairer post recession settlement for the UKs low-paid workers including: – Access to skills –Reform of employment status –Stronger enforcement –Flexible benefits –Fair tax