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Jeremy Corbyn promises ‘biggest workers’ rights extension in the UK ever

On Tuesday, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told the conference of the trade union umbrella body, the TUC: “For 40 years the share of the cake going to workers has been getting smaller and smaller.”

Announcing his envisaged shake-up of Whitehall departments at the TUC Congress in Brighton, the Labour leader pledged to “put power in the hands of workers” not the “born-to-rule establishment” by establishing a ministry for employment rights and a workers’ protection agency if he secures a Labour majority.

He told delegates too many employers were flouting existing laws and failing to pay the minimum wage. “We will put a stop to that. We will create a workers’ protection agency with real teeth, including the power to enter workplaces and bring prosecutions on workers’ behalf,” he said.

Other changes to workers’ rights would include a ban on unpaid internships and zero-hours contracts, he said.

But these international comparisons are not straightforward, in particular because of the challenges of self-employment income.

With self-employed workers, it is harder to make the distinction between workers’ pay and company profits.

The Office for National Statistics has been looking into the challenges of self-employment income for the labour share and whether they account for the fall in the labour share.

Research from the Bank of England suggests if you properly account for housing income (that’s money made by landlords) and self-employment, the labour share has been pretty constant in developed economies since 1980, with the exception of the US.

 

Employment is the good news story that can be celebrated

As it currently stands, the employment rate in the UK is 76.1 per cent, record high levels that match the year 1971. 32 million people have work in the UK today, which is an increase of 3.7 million more people compared to 2010. 

These positive figures are causing ministers to back the labour market to the point where a near-£10 an hour living wage could be on the horizon. 

But these high employment statistics are in part due to people turning freelance as a way of not being stuck in zero hour contracts. With self employed individuals accounting for 15 per cent of all in employment, standing at 4.9 million, it is scary that there is still a lack of standard job protections like benefits and pensions offered to those that are self-employed. Read on to find out more UK employment statistics.

 

Has the jobs market become totally divorced from the real economy?

 However, a healthy employment market doesn’t necessarily mean a healthy economy. Due to super-flexible labour markets and a rise in AI, employment levels can’t show us how well  businesses are actually doing. Read on to find out why employment rates alone can’t prove the prosperity of UK businesses.

 

Why the self-employed should start a pension now 

For some freelancers, a pension is a bit of an unknown entity and not seen as something that’s necessary, nor attainable when income fluctuates month to month. But really, by saving into a pension you are making money through tax relief added to your pension pot by the government. 

A lack of understanding into pensions is not only causing freelancers to lose out on free money, but it’s causing huge financial issues for freelancers when they reach retirement. 

Only 15 per cent of self employed people pay into a pension, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

 

Tax deadline: why more people are falling behind on their taxes

According to data released in response to a Freedom of Information request, the taxman is owed £1.6 billion so far in late payments from people who missed the 31 January 2019 Self Assessment deadline for the 2017/18 tax year.

It also noted that the amount taxpayers owe in late payments has been steadily rising over the last few years, coming in at £1.65 billion in 2014/15 and £1.76 billion in 205/16.

The self-employed are particularly at risk of cash flow issues, which may make it difficult for them to pay their bill, even if they manage to make sense of HMRC’s online system.

According to the Federation of Small Businesses, small firms are owed an average of more than £6,000 in late payments, with more than a third ending up in cash flow bother as a result.

 

Ratings systems have returned to haunt the gig economy

Andrew Hill writes in the FT on the problems caused by rating systems for companies such as Uber and Deliveroo. 

When California’s labor commissioner ruled Uber drivers were employees not contractors in 2015, one piece of evidence was that the ride-hailing group could “deactivate” a driver if his or her rating fell below 4.6 out of 5.

Boston University academics who studied 600,000 Airbnb properties, found nearly all had a rating of 4.5 or 5 stars; hardly any ranked below 3.5.

Plainly, if the pass rate is 70 per cent or more, the rating that “really makes a difference” is anything lower, because low marks can condemn a rental property, put a driver on probation — and, potentially, get somebody fired.

This is where the galaxy of cheerful star ratings becomes an increasingly chilly place — one strangely familiar to anyone who has suffered through a points-based career appraisal.

Employers have spent the past few years unpicking or outlawing old-fashioned and oversimplified systems for assessing staff performance.

Any review system is prone to what experts call the “idiosyncratic rater effect”, which is a polite way of saying that bias and discrimination can pollute the outcomes. That applies in particular to “rank-and-yank” assessments, but also to poorly presented feedback. 

Discrimination has been one of the first ghosts to re-emerge. Researchers who looked at Uber, concluded that while its rating system was outwardly neutral, it could be a vehicle for, say, racial bias.

 

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