“There is a fundamental duty on employers to protect the health and safety of all workers” says IOSH, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, commenting on possible improvements – including the right to sick pay – that the UK Government’s ‘Good Work’ plan recommends.
Improved employee wellbeing and a reduced risk of stress are among potential benefits from new rights set to be introduced in the UK, according to IOSH.
The ‘Good Work’ plan could also lead to less ‘presenteeism’ – where people attend work despite being too ill or tired to do so safely and effectively.
In the plan, unveiled today, Wednesday 7 February, the Government has pledged to protect worker rights, ensure fair payment and increase transparency in the business environment.
It includes enforcing vulnerable workers’ holiday and sick pay, a new right to a payslip for all workers, and a right for them to request a more stable contract.
It is the long-awaited response to the independent review of modern work practices published last year by Royal Society of Arts chief executive Matthew Taylor, which made 53 recommendations to balance flexibility and worker protection to achieve “good work for all”.
IOSH also highlighted issues around modern work practices late last year when it commissioned a survey, revealing that fewer protections were being offered to non-permanent workers, leading to many working when sick, working unpaid overtime and not having a paid holiday.
Both IOSH and Matthew Taylor, who spoke at the Institution’s annual conference in November, called for a ‘day-one agreement’ that sets out the level of safety, health and wellbeing provision a new worker can expect to get when they start work at a business.
Shelley Frost, director of strategic development at IOSH, said:
“The UK Government’s Good Work plan acknowledges the issues raised in the Taylor Review and recognises that all working people should have the same employment rights.
“There is a fundamental duty on employers to protect the health and safety of all workers.
“Therefore, there should be no discrimination on the grounds of contractual conditions. For example, while zero hours contracts are said to support more modern, agile ways of working, they should not be at the expense of the working conditions of the employees involved.
“There is clear evidence that if businesses do employ consistent standards across the board, they reap the rewards, including better productivity and improved reputation, which helps to attract talent.”
IOSH has also published research, called Out of sight, out of mind, covering the safety and health experiences of remote and distributed workers. This included important advice for employers.