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Workplace Insecurity

Volume 588: debated on Thursday 20 November 2014

12. If his Department will undertake an assessment of the main causes of insecurity in the workplace. (906145)

The workplace employment relations study, which the Department funds, shows that employees’ views on job security are related to their individual circumstances and also the underlying economic conditions of the time. Job satisfaction increased between 2004 and 2011, but, unsurprisingly, insecurity rose during the recession. However, the additional 1.4 million people in employment since 2010 will have improved that situation.

The Minister will know that many of those people are in very insecure employment. Will she investigate the experience of workers at the former Aquascutum factory in Corby? It briefly became The Clothing Works, under a man named Roger Gawn who has now been disqualified as a director, and has now become Korisby Ltd. Workers there tell me that they are waiting for up to eight weeks’ pay. One of them got in touch with me the other day and said that when they raise this with the new bosses, they are told, “Get on with it or leave.” How can that be right?

I do not know the specific facts of that case, but I am happy to look into it because, from what the hon. Gentleman says, that does not sound right. I will be happy to make sure that the appropriate authorities can look into the matter, investigate and take any action that is necessary.

If my hon. Friend’s Department did carry out such an assessment, does she not agree that it might well find that the biggest risk to the security of British business is the election of a Labour Government, which would mean more spending, more borrowing and higher taxes?

I certainly agree that that would be a particular risk to British business. I wonder whether my hon. Friend might also agree that another risk to British business would be on the question of whether or not Britain left the EU.

Has the Minister seen the recent campaign by the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians about the activities of umbrella companies, where workers are often having to pay for their own holiday pay through deductions and also national insurance employer contributions. What action is she going to take to ensure that job security and workers’ security is increased by acting on umbrella companies?

The hon. Gentleman raises an important point. Work is already being undertaken by the Treasury on the tax-specific issue of what happens with umbrella companies. He may be aware that last month my right hon. Friend the Business Secretary announced an employment status review so that we can look in more detail at the different types of employment status and at how that system is working, between worker and employer, and with the use of self-employed contracts and umbrella companies. We are looking forward to the results of that review, which will be covering these issues.