The government said this week that part-time, agency and flexible staff will get new basic rights at work in line with recommendations made in the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices.

It makes the UK one of the first countries in the world to propose giving casual workers so much protection.

The new approach will mean that all haulage company employees, including casual and zero hours staff, will receive rights such as holiday and sick pay.

Everybody will have to have payslips and the right to request a more stable employment contract.

The Good Work Plan, as it is known, will affect many staff in haulage who have fewer rights at present because they are not employed directly or full time.

Business secretary Greg Clarke said that although the current approach to employment is successful, “we want to embrace new ways of working and to do so we will be one of the first countries to prepare our employment rules to reflect new challenges”.

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Among other things, the plan will involve the naming and shaming of employers who fail to pay Employment Tribunal awards; a quadrupling of tribunal fines for companies who have shown malice, spite or gross oversight to £20,000; possible minimum pay for workers on zero hours contracts; and an examination of laws that currently allow agencies to employ staff on cheaper rates.

The TUC, however, said the Good Work plan wouldn’t stop exploitative working practices and would still leave 1.8 million workers without key employment rights.

General secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The Government has taken a baby step – when it needed to take a giant leap. These plans won’t stop the hire and fire culture of zero-hours contracts or sham self-employment.

“Ministers need to up their game. At the very least they must end the Undercutters’ Charter that means agency workers can be paid less than permanent staff doing the same job.”

By David Harris