The Government’s promise of “enhanced rights” for millions of UK workers does little to address the problem of pension provision for the self-employed, Steve Webb says.
In its response to the Taylor report published today, the Government says “major reforms” will give millions of workers new rights and these “are a vital part” of the country’s industrial strategy.
Last July the Royal Society of Arts chief executive Matthew Taylor released a Government commissioned report into modern work practices.
In some cases the Government says it plans to go further than the Taylor report’s proposals including enforcing vulnerable workers’ holiday and sick pay for the first time.
It will seek to protect workers’ rights by introducing a new naming scheme for employers who fail to pay employment tribunal awards and quadruple employment tribunal fines for employers showing malice to £20,000.
The Government also wants a list of day-one rights including holiday and sick pay entitlements and a new right to a payslip for all workers, including casual and zero-hour workers.
Although Royal London director of policy Steve Webb welcomes the proposals he worries they do not address the lack of pensions provision among the self-employed.
He says: “Despite Matthew Taylor’s recommendations, the Government response offers little hope for improving the pensions of the self-employed.”
The number of self-employed has increased from 3.3 million in 2001 to 4.8 million 2017 which means the self-employed are now 15.1 per cent of the total labour force.
Webb adds: “The Government’s automatic enrolment review merely proposed some further research and testing on pensions and the self-employed, which is not up to the urgency of the problem.
“Pension membership amongst employed workers has soared because of automatic enrolment, but it remains shockingly low for the self-employed. It is very worrying that this issue has again been kicked ‘into the long grass’, meaning that millions of self-employed people face an insecure retirement’.
The Government will launch a number of consultations to inform what the future of the UK workforce looks like.
These include a consultation on enforcement of employment rights recommendations, one on agency workers recommendations, another on ways to increase transparency in the UK labour market and a final one on employment status.