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The UK Government has been urged to act on the scourge of insecure work, which critics say has led to workers being treated like “second class citizens” and make it almost impossible for people to plan childcare needs “or budget for their weekly shop”.

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) estimates that at least 1.8 million workers on insecure contracts, such as zero-hours contracts, are missing out on the same employment rights enjoyed by other workers, including redundancy pay and the right to return to your job after having a baby.

Others have been wrongly classified as ‘self-employed’, or lack protection against unfair dismissal.

The TUC is calling on the government to:

  • Ban zero-hours contracts to ensure workers get guaranteed hours, allowing them to pay bills and plan childcare.
  • Ensure equal pay for agency workers, by ending the Swedish Derogation which acts as an undercutters charter.
  • Crack down on bogus self-employment and ensure workers enjoy the same floor of rights as employees, including redundancy pay and family-friendly rights.
  • Allow trades unions to access workplaces, to support workers most in need of representation.
  • Increase resources and powers for enforcement, so that dodgy employers have nowhere to hide.

“The insecure work free-for-all has to end”, said TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady.

“Agency workers are being treated like second-class citizens, getting less pay for the same work.

“And zero-hours contracts leave many workers unable to plan childcare or budget for their weekly shop.

“This will be a real test of Theresa May’s government. Does she even have a domestic agenda anymore? Or has her government been totally hijacked by Brexit in-fighting.”

The call comes ahead of the Government’s response to the Taylor Review on Modern Employment Practices, which backed calls to end a practice that allows employers to pay agency staff less than other workers for the same job, whilst also highlighting the “many positive examples of the role trade unions can play in good employment relations”.