IOSH: Employers have ‘fundamental duty’ to ensure health and safety
Responding to the government’s Good Work plan, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) said there was “a fundamental duty on employers to protect the health and safety of all workers”.
The comments followed the announcement about the possible improvements outlined by the government in the plans – including the right to sick pay.
According to IOSH, improved wellbeing, and a reduced risk of stress, are potential benefits from new rights to be introduced in the UK.
The plan also could lead to less ‘presenteeism’, which is the idea that employees attend work despite being too ill or tired to undertake tasks safely and effectively, IOSH claimed.
In the plan, the government has also pledged to protect worker rights, ensure fair payment and increase transparency in the business environment.
It includes enforcing vulnerable workers’ holiday and sick pay, a new right to a payslip for all workers, and a right for them to request a more stable contract.
The official government response has been eagerly awaited since the independent review of modern work practices was published by Matthew Taylor last year. This review made 53 recommendations to balance flexibility and worker protection with the aim to achieve ‘good work for all’.
IOSH has previously highlighted issues around modern work practices through its own survey, which showed fewer protections were being offered to non-permanent workers. As a result, many worked when sick, performed unpaid overtime, and did not have a paid holiday.
The institution also called for a ‘day-one agreement’ – alongside Taylor – which sets out the level of safety, health and wellbeing provision a worker can expect when they begin work in a new business.
Shelley Frost (pictured), director of strategic development at IOSH, said: “The UK Government’s Good Work plan acknowledges the issues raised in the Taylor Review and recognises that all working people should have the same employment rights.
“There is a fundamental duty on employers to protect the health and safety of all workers.
“Therefore, there should be no discrimination on the grounds of contractual conditions. For example, while zero hours contracts are said to support more modern, agile ways of working, they should not be at the expense of the working conditions of the employees involved.
“There is clear evidence that if businesses do employ consistent standards across the board, they reap the rewards, including better productivity and improved reputation, which helps to attract talent.”
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