Select Committee report recommends the creation of legislation to strengthen employment rights


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The House of Lords Select Committee on Covid-19 has published a report entitled, 'Beyond Digital: Planning for a Hybrid World' as part of its inquiry 'Living online: the long-term impact on wellbeing'.

The report contains key recommendations from the Committee for the government to consider in light of the increase in hybrid working.

The Committee concludes that the government's current digital strategy is unfit for purpose to operate "in our new hybrid post-pandemic society" and "a new, truly hybrid strategy" needs to be developed.  Alongside this new strategy the Committee recommends that the government should consult on strengthening the current legislative framework for employment rights to ensure that it is suitable for the digital age.

The report notes that it is difficult to anticipate the exact implications of the Supreme Court's decision in Uber and whether it will lead to voluntary improvements in the working conditions of platform workers (interestingly it has, with news last month that Uber is now paying its drivers at least the national minimum wage and giving them employment rights including time off and holiday pay).  However, the Committee recommends that the government should introduce new legislation to provide workers with defined and enhanced employment rights.

The report also notes that our growing reliance on digital technology has caused, and will continue to cause, a huge shift in the nature of work.  It points out that the growth of platform working, digital monitoring and "epresenteeism" pose significant risks for our wellbeing in work, and that employment practice, policy and legislation have failed to catch up with the hybrid reality of today's workplace. It recommends that the government should consult on strengthening the current legislative framework for employment rights to ensure that it is suitable for the digital age.  This should consider a right to switch-off, responsibilities for meeting the costs of remote working, rights for platform workers, the use of workplace monitoring and surveillance, and giving workers a right to access data about their performance.

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