Rachel Reeves

Member of Parliament for Leeds West

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Please read below my article in The Times proposing greater worker protection in the gig economy, written with Frank Field MP.

Frank Field, Rachel Reeves

Speaking in Downing Street for the first time as prime minister, Theresa May promised to address the “burning injustice” endured by too many people in Britain. She pledged her government would stand up for the many against the interests of the privileged few. In few areas is there a more urgent need to tackle injustice and inequality than the world of work.

The government asked Matthew Taylor to lead its review of modern employment practices. Both our committees are clear that the government must implement its best recommendations. We call for a new framework, including new legislation, to address the urgent need to create a level playing field for businesses and to shield workers from exploitation.

Britain’s labour market often leads the world with its entrepreneurial spirit and economic dynamism, from the boom in self-employment to the growth of flexible forms of work using digital platforms. But too many workers are locked out of opportunities and prosperity. For them, the labour market is scarred by insecurity and injustice. Many can never be sure how much work they will get and whether they will earn enough to pay the bills.

When some businesses get an advantage by exploiting sources of cheap labour and avoiding tax, those responsible businesses that play by the rules are at a competitive disadvantage. Disincentives against good business behaviour benefit no one: not workers, not taxpayers, and certainly not ethical, law-abiding business owners, who risk being undercut by less scrupulous competitors. Good businesses have nothing to fear from our recommendations.

Divergent judgments on worker status involving Uber and Deliveroo show an urgent need for legal clarity. Understanding the difference between employees, workers and self-employed status requires the average worker or business owner to have an extensive knowledge of case law. Workers have little chance of knowing whether they are receiving the rights to which they are entitled. Businesses, too, leave themselves open to legal challenge unless they fully understand the rules.

Implementing the proposal of “worker status by default” would end the system that encourages businesses to wait and see if workers challenge practices that are incompatible with self-employment. It would protect workers and halt the race to the bottom that creates a competitive advantage from being willing to deny basic rights.

Businesses in the “gig economy” regularly contend that their drivers and riders benefit from the flexibility of their employment status. However, that flexibility often seems one-way, with the business able to exert control and the individual forgoing the benefits and rights of a worker. If we were to put a premium on flexibility, that could be a real game-changer to help the lowest paid. A premium on the national minimum wage/national living wage for non-guaranteed hours worked could prompt companies that benefit from flexible workforces, often by using zero-hour contracts, to transfer some of those benefits back to workers: either by guaranteeing more hours, or compensating workers for insecurity.

We also a need a tougher approach to enforcing the law. At present, businesses can expect an inspection of their labour practices just once every 500 years — creating brilliant odds for those playing fast and loose with employment law. Even if caught, they receive only desultory fines.

Our proposals are backed by two cross-party committees which highlights significant support in the Commons for this part of the prime minister’s agenda. It is time for the government to grant the parliamentary time to take these changes forward.

Frank Field is chairman of the work and pensions committee. Rachel Reeves is chairwoman of the business, energy and industrial strategy committee

 

Halting Race To The Bottom Protects Workers and Bosses

Please read below my article in The Times proposing greater worker protection in the gig economy, written with Frank Field MP.

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Great to see the new and improved Bramley Community Hub re-opened and to hear about all the wonderful benefits this will bring to our local community! The interior has been fully restored and the children's corner allows for a fantastic opportunity for the family to come down, with friendly staff who are at hand as always to help whenever needed.

The library is now open to the public and we will be holding a more formal opening on Thursday 2nd November at 2pm which is a great opportunity to come and see the Hub for yourself!

I'd like to thank everyone who played a part in the re-opening of the Hub as we now have a beautiful and useful community resource which we can all benefit from.

Bramley Hub Re-Opening

Great to see the new and improved Bramley Community Hub re-opened and to hear about all the wonderful benefits this will bring to our local community! The interior has been...

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Really good to join friends at the Bramley Elderley Action AGM on Saturday and hear about all the wonderful work being done in our local community. I talked about the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission and the work being done in Bramley to help people deal with the challenges of feeling lonely.

 

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I was fortunate enough to meet some of the volunteers and befrienders from Bramley Elderly Action and learn about their excellent work. There are 22 befrienders currently volunteering for Bramley Elderly Action, speaking to elderly people on a regular basis. Often, this is the only conversation many older people have in their day. Their vital work can drastically improve the quality of life for many lonely people in Leeds West, and is a great example of work the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission would like to support and encourage. 

If you would like to help Bramley Elderly Action, whether through volunteering or donating, please contact the charity on 0113 236 1644. 


Bramley Elderly Action AGM

Really good to join friends at the Bramley Elderley Action AGM on Saturday and hear about all the wonderful work being done in our local community. I talked about the...

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