The surge in the number of casual workers in the United Kingdom has prompted UKG, a leading provider of HR, workforce management, and HR service delivery solutions, to emphasise the importance of protecting the rights of these employees.
As UK legislation now outlines the entitlements of casual workers, businesses are being urged to swiftly adapt to ensure compliance with the law.
Casual workers, defined as individuals not part of a company’s permanent workforce, typically offer services on a flexible or irregular basis, primarily to meet fluctuating work demand.
The lack of clarity regarding the rights of these employees has posed challenges for businesses in recent years.
Liam McNeill, Group Vice President, EMEA at UKG, stressed the need for businesses to understand and uphold casual workers’ entitlements while ensuring compliance.
McNeill stated, “Traditionally, the workforce has always been diverse, comprising permanent, self-employed, full-time, and part-time staff.
More recently, we have seen the emergence of the ‘casual worker,’ accompanied by uncertainty surrounding their rights.”
Among the key entitlements for casual workers, holiday pay has been a major focus. Casual workers are entitled to statutory holiday pay of 5.6 weeks (equivalent to 28 days) annually since they are classified as employees rather than self-employed individuals. This grants them the same holiday pay rights as their counterparts on traditional employment contracts.
Uber v Aslam and Others
McNeill pointed to the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Uber v Aslam and Others in 2021 as a significant milestone in cementing these rights. The ruling sided with Uber drivers who argued that they should be considered employees rather than self-employed drivers, emphasising that irregular working hours do not diminish entitlements such as holiday pay.
He stated, “This ruling sent a clear message that no employer, regardless of size, can infringe upon the rights of casual workers and those with irregular work patterns.”
To avoid creating a two-tiered workforce, HR professionals are encouraged to ensure that casual workers have the same level of access to HR technology and autonomy as traditional employees.
McNeill added, “HR technology provides the personalisation and autonomy that both casual workers and their employers can benefit from. Giving casual workers access to HR portals for payroll, scheduling, and holiday entitlement enhances transparency and minimises confusion.”
Confusion and disruption
Excluding casual workers from essential HR technology, he cautioned, would lead to long-term confusion and disparities across the workforce. From a business perspective, offering casual workers access to the latest HR technology streamlines HR processes across the entire workforce.
McNeill concluded, “There should no longer be any ambiguity regarding the entitlements of casual workers, particularly regarding statutory holiday pay. With industries like the gig economy and the growing popularity of zero-hour contracts, we are likely to encounter more casual workers in our workforce. Businesses should recognise the long-term advantages of avoiding a two-tiered workforce by providing seamless HR processes and acknowledging their right to statutory holiday pay.”
As casual work becomes increasingly prevalent in the UK job market, businesses are urged to adapt and uphold the rights of these employees, ensuring fair treatment and compliance with the law.
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.