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House of Commons Hansard
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12 December 2017
Volume 633
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5. When he plans to respond to the Taylor review of modern working practices. [902883]

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It is important that this much-needed report gets the consideration it deserves and that we take action where needed. In the industrial strategy, the Secretary of State took responsibility for improving quality of work in the UK and continued an important dialogue on this issue. We will publish our full response shortly.

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The TUC reports that 3.2 million people are now in insecure work—an increase of more than a quarter over the past five years. Will the Minister accept Matthew Taylor’s recommendation, endorsed by the Select Committee, that a longer break in service—a month rather than a week, as at present—should be allowed before there is any loss of employment rights?

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That will be something that we consult on as we consult on the vast majority of the other proposals in the Taylor review. Taylor acknowledges the excellent track record of employment in terms of new jobs, but as the right hon. Gentleman rightly points out—and the TUC endorses this—there is an issue with insecure work and far too much risk being transferred to the employee.

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The Taylor review says that the same basic principles should apply to all forms of employment in the UK. Does my hon. Friend see paid time off for women attending antenatal appointments as a basic principle, and does she agree that, for health reasons, the law needs to clearly extend that principle to all female workers?

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I thank my right hon. Friend for her excellent question. We will review the matter that she raises in tandem with the rest of the review of Taylor’s recommendations, but she makes a very good point indeed.

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I welcomed last week the Government’s latest round of naming and shaming employers that have failed to pay the minimum wage—an area where state enforcement has actually had some success—so I urge the Minister to respond positively to the Taylor review’s recommendation that state enforcement of employment rights should be enhanced beyond just the minimum wage.

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We will consult on the remainder of the recommendations, particularly those relating to employment tribunals and the enforcement of awards that go unpaid.

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Insecure working practices at Uber enable the company to engage in a pricing policy that many of my constituents consider to be predatory and designed to drive out competition. What more can the Government do to improve working practices at Uber and ensure fairer competition between taxis and private hire vehicles?

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My right hon. Friend gets to the nub of many of the Taylor review’s recommendations. It is important that decent employment standards are maintained and that consumers are offered new opportunities, and we will be reviewing the proposals.

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Recent reports uncovered the fact that people driving on behalf of Amazon were forced to deliver up to 200 parcels a day while earning less than the minimum wage. With impossible schedules that left little to no time for breaks and no access to paid holidays or sick pay, many drivers experienced conditions that could be described as Dickensian. As yet another high-profile employment case emerges, why are the Government not taking robust action to crack down on bogus self-employment and to enforce employment rights?

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The hon. Lady puts her finger on precisely why the Prime Minister commissioned the Taylor review in the first place. When employers are indulging in practices such as those the hon. Lady outlines there will definitely be a deleterious effect on employees’ health, and they should be roundly condemned.

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The Government keep hiding behind their forthcoming response to the Taylor review, but Sir David Metcalf, the Government’s director of labour market enforcement, stated this year that even the Government’s existing powers have not been used to protect workers, despite numerous official statements that the Government have taken abuse by employers seriously. Only last week, the Government identified 16,000 workers who were paid less than the minimum wage, and yet the Low Pay Commission believes that the true figure is between 300,000 and 580,000. Does the Minister agree with Sir David Metcalf that the Government’s enforcement of basic employment rights is wholly inadequate?

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I await the publication of Sir David’s strategy for dealing with labour market enforcement, which we expect to see in the first quarter of next year. I am pleased with his appointment, and he is doing a great job so far of bringing together the enforcement agencies at the Government’s disposal to ensure that they work even more effectively in the pursuit of non-compliance with the law.