Law Society calls for tighter controls on companies claiming that their workers are self-employed

Inspectors should be able to investigate companies and entire industries to prevent unscrupulous companies falsely labelling workers as self-employed, according to suggestions by the Law Society. The comments come in response to a review of employment practices commissioned by the UK government and being led by Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the Royal Society of the Arts. Research from Citizens Advice in 2015 suggested that one in 10 people, or about 460,000, have been mislabelled self-employed. Self-employed independent contractors are not entitled to holiday pay, sick pay or pension contributions.

The solicitors’ governing body also recommends the immediate scrapping of employment tribunal fees, which have led to a 70% fall in claims in the last three years, according to a news item in The Guardian.

“Our rights at work are not optional – they are the minimum standard to which we are entitled,” said Law Society President Robert Bourns. “Our law relies on individuals taking their employer to court to get their rights recognised. Bad employers know this and take advantage of it to cut corners and underpay people, knowing they’ll probably get away with it.

“An independent government inspector who can go into a business to ensure staff are being given their proper workplace rights will help put a stop to this exploitation, and put everyone on a fair and even playing field.”

The Law Society suggests a comprehensive review of employment legislation and clearer definitions of employment categories. It says all businesses should be forced to clarify the status of their workers in writing.

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