Government review of rights at work needed more than ever

Friday 28th October 2016

Leading local advice charity, Citizens Advice Exeter, has welcomed the announcement by Prime Minister Theresa May of a new review into rights at work which could include new laws for self-employed and temporary workers.


This comes as the charity’s latest figures show a 4% increase in clients with employment issues.


Compared to the first half of the previous financial year, Citizens Advice Exeter has helped 7% more people in 2016.

Citizens Advice Exeter Chief Executive, Steve Barriball, said:

“Many hardworking people don’t feel secure in their job.”

“We have helped with 599 employment issues so far this year, with basic rights at work being one of the most common problem areas.”

“As increasingly new ways of working emerge, it is welcome that the government is taking a close look at how businesses operate and how employees are being treated to make sure workers’ rights are keeping pace.”

“4.5 million people are in insecure work and face uncertainty about their pay and hours from one week to the next and some people are being forced to work as self-employed when they should be employees.”

“It is really important the review of rights bolsters protections for people -making sure they get important rights around maternity leave and holiday pay. There is a real opportunity for this government to bring greater transparency to how businesses operate – including asking firms to disclose the contractual make-up of their workforce.

The advice trends over the period were as follows:


Overall, the charity dealt with 4% more employment enquiries. The main increases being:


  • 78.5% increase about employment tribunals and appeals
  • 39.3% increase about terms and conditions
  • 34.5% increase about pay and entitlements


Client case studies – focus on employment problems:


  1. A client who experienced health problems during pregnancy which led to the employer requiring the employee to commence her maternity leave early as the employer refused to pay sick pay or make workplace adjustments.
  2. An employer who made staff who all worked in the same role redundant whilst at the same time using agency staff and potential bogus self-employed staff to do the same job
  3. A client who feared for their job security if they asked about paid holiday entitlement and payment for additional hours worked.

Welfare benefits

Overall, the charity dealt with 17.4% more welfare benefit enquiries. The main increases being:


  • 24.7% increase about employment and support allowance
  • 22.0% increase about disability benefits (PIP/DLA)


The charity also dealt with 62 enquires about the new Universal Credit benefit system.


Overall, the charity dealt with 4.0% more debt enquiries. The main increases being:


  • 41.5% increase in enquiries about bankruptcy and debt relief orders
  • 20.5% increase in enquiries about water arrears
  • 17.7% increase about telephone and broadband arrears
  • 17.6% increase in enquiries about council tax arrears


Overall, the charity dealt with 2.4% more housing enquiries. The main increases being:


  • 90.9% increase in enquiries about housing association property
  • 27.5% increase in enquiries about actual homelessness
  • 6.2% increase in enquiries about local authority property