Government plans to compensate workers for cancelled shifts have been described as a “step in the right direction”.

The Good Work Plan outlines proposals to compensate flexible staff when shifts are cancelled at short notice and to ensure they are provided with a reasonable period of notice for their allocated shifts. The document also suggests additional protections for individuals who are penalised if they do not accept last-minute shifts.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said of the initiative: “Innovative entrepreneurs and new business models have opened up a whole new world of working patterns and opportunities, providing people with freedom to decide when and where they work that best suits them.

“It’s vital that workers’ rights keep pace with these changes, reflect the modern working environment and tackle the small number of firms that do not treat their staff fairly. We are the first country in the world to address modern working practices and these protections will cement the UK’s status as a world-leader in workers’ rights.”

The proposed measures follow the government’s announcement that it is consulting on creating a single labour market enforcement body, which will strengthen protections for workers and provide them with new rights.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady welcomed the new proposals, but said: “Too many workers are treated like disposable labour. Making sure employers compensate staff for cancelling shifts at the last minute is a step in the right direction.

“But we need to deal with the root of this problem – the explosion of insecure work. That means banning shading practices like zero-hours contracts.”

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