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Workers may soon be compensated for cancelled shifts – not a problem with PARiM

Perhaps one of the biggest downsides of the gig economy-style employment and zero-hours contracts that many people work in these days, despite the freedom they seem to give, is the fact that their shifts and projects can be cancelled very easily.

The BBC reports that there have been many complaints and there is a new government plan being proposed that could mean any gig economy or zero-contract workers who have their proposed shifts cancelled at very short notice, could be paid a suitable amount of compensation. PARiM is monitoring the situation and stands ready to add needed modifications when new legislation takes effect. However, we already offer an infinitely customisable set of features for Shift Cancellation, Deletion and Assignment features.

PARiM's unique cancelled shifts reporting and customisation rises to prominence as it can help you get a handle on this tricky subject already today. Here's how easy PARiM can make about your employees and good business management practices already in 3 simple steps:

1. To start with, you can add an endless list of shift cancellation reasons that fit your business, which you can then select when removing an employee from a shift or when deleting the shift (you can also easily do that for multiple shifts when enabling our Selection Mode).

2. Secondly, if you give them the right to do so (and that depends on how your management team decides to design your business processes) workers themselves can also cancel a shift with a cancellation reason more than 24 hours before it's start time either on our free mobile apps or via our Staff Portal.

3. Finally, you can use PARiM's one-of-a-kind Shift Cancellation view to monitor cancelled shifts by cancellation reasons.

So there's already a lots you can already do with PARiM to improve processes and working conditions. However, let's take a closer look at the proposed plans and how New Zealand dealt with similar issues to see what's very likely coming up in the next couple of years.

Tackling the Few that are Taking Advantage of Zero-Hour Contract and Gig Economy Workers

Out of the entire workforce, 40% of workers up and down the country have reported that they have no set hours and in fact, they can vary greatly from one week to the next. While there is nothing wrong with zero-hours in themselves, due to lack of adequate technological solutions and processes – many suffer from anxiety about the changes as it leaves them feeling uncertain. According to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, around 1 in 6 workers with flexible hour work arrangements only get notice of a day to inform them that their shift has been cancelled.

Greg Clark, the Government’s Business Secretary has said that while the business models have presented people with a wider range of working opportunities and patterns, there is a need for worker’s rights to be kept up to date with the various changes that have come into play. They also need to fully reflect the working environment in the world these days and look at dealing with the small percentage of companies out there who are not treating their staff as fairly as they should.

Further Changes Being Implemented

These new proposals follow the reforms that were introduced last December. Those were based on the review that was conducted into current working practices that was overseen by the former aide to Tony Blair and Royal Society of Arts chief executive Matthew Taylor.

During that review, he asked the Low Pay Commission to investigate the one-sided flexibility issue and the latest consultation is around these ideas.

Bryan Sanderson who is a chair for the commission was delighted that the government was looking to take further action into the findings they made. He was happy that the changes they proposed along with various other policies, could improve many thousands of people’s work and home life dramatically.

Even the General Secretary Frances O’Grady noted that compensation would be taking things in the right direction, but still thinks, as does the TUC overall, that zero-hour contracts should be completed eliminated and banned.

New Zealand Has Already Implemented a Similar Plan

This is not a new thing in the employment world, as back in April 2016, new rules were brought into effect in New Zealand regarding the cancelling of shifts and not paying workers. Unless companies and employers met specific compliances with the Employment Relations Act 2000 changes, they would not be able to just simply cancel shifts. Their law stated that employers could only cancel shifts if there is an existing clause in the employment agreement specifying:

  • The reasonable period of notice they are going to give if they need to cancel shifts
  • The compensation an employer is going to give their employee if they are unable to give them enough notice about a shift cancellation

That means even if a company is legally allowed to cancel a worker’s shift, they still either must give notice or pay them some compensation. This raised interesting questions about what reasonable notice and the kind of compensation workers should be given.

What is a Reasonable Period of Notice?

According to the 2000 Act, there is no specified amount of notice required to be given. However, it does state that all important factors should be considered, including:

  • Nature of the business, including the likes of whether an employer can foresee or control circumstances that arise and create the need for shift cancellations
  • Nature of the work carried out by the employee in question and the effect the shift cancellation could have on the individual
  • Nature of the employment arrangements of the employee, including the likes of the hours they agreed to work and the guaranteed hours including in those agreed hours.

What this means is, if an employer has more control or greater foresight over when shifts are going to be cancelled, they will need to provide their employee with more notice. As it would be unfair if you had that much control and didn’t provide fair warning to them.

It also means that where the cancellation is likely to have a greater effect on the individual, the more notice should be provided also. It can be difficult to work out the impact but look at it this way – if they are working in a minimum wage position and only work a small number of shifts a week, not being paid or compensated could really leave them in trouble.

However, if there is a minimum number of guaranteed hours that both the employer and employee agreed upon, it may not be a requirement to give a lot of notice. As the employee will still get their guaranteed hours.

Whether the UK Government implements a similar plan or not, will only be seen in time. However, if they keep pushing things in the right direction, it might make things a lot securer for gig economy and zero-hour contract workers. Which is important as those forms of employment show no signs of going out of fashion, because of the positives and flexibility they offer individuals.

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