Worker Status: Labour Government plan to crack down on sham self-employment
On 24 January 2024 we held a webinar to discuss the recent decision of the Supreme Court on worker status. This case involved Deliveroo drivers who were seeking trade union recognition. You can click here to review the recording of that webinar.
For many years now we have been warning dental practices of the risks of continuing to engage dentists on a self-employed basis. However, few want to depart from the status quo, including dentists, who often seek the benefits of self-employed status.
Later this year we are likely to have a general election. Labour has already set out its proposals for employment reforms in its paper Employment Rights Green Paper.
Labour is looking to create a single worker status, commenting;
By creating a simple, single status for all, Labour will also clamp down on bogus self-employment. Unscrupulous employers will no longer be able to treat their staff like regular employees whilst falsely claiming they are not, denying staff rights they are owed as employees.
Employees at present have the most protection in employment law. Under Labour’s proposals worker rights would be expanded to include all the employment rights an employee has, such as unfair dismissal, statutory redundancy pay and parental leave.
There are a number of other worker friendly proposals in the paper, including making unfair dismissal a day one right and increasing the minimum wage for all.
How will these proposals affect dental practices?
Labour’s paper states:
Many people work like regular employees – in uniform, full time, with work set entirely by management – but are falsely classified as self-employed workers doing freelance work for that company.
Whilst many associate contracts purport to be self-employed, the reality is much different. Associates have to follow practice policies; attend practice meetings; meet UDA targets; attend the practice at set hours. They are integrated into the dental team. In our opinion, it is these types of relationships that Labour is seeking to capture.
At present, practices run the risk that an associate could assert worker status at any time and seek to recover back dated holiday pay. If Labour does implement legislation creating one employment status, no doubt there will be a transition period for this. However, this could alert associates to the fact they have been wrongly categorised. Further, if the single category of worker is given all employment rights, will more people seek worker status to obtain those rights? Now is the time to act to ensure you are correctly categorising your staff and implementing any necessary changes.
If you would like advice on your associate contracts, please call the team on 0207 388 1658 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maria Orfanidou, Solicitor
Please note that the information contained in this article was correct at the time of writing. There may have been updates to the law since the article was written which may affect the information and advice given therein.