The following appeared in my column for the Barnsley Chronicle on 27th April:
I’m usually back home in Barnsley on a Friday but today is slightly different, because I’ll be presenting my own legislation in the House of Commons.
Earlier in the parliamentary year I was given the chance through a ballot to bring forward a ‘Private Members Bill’ – essentially a piece of legislation developed by an individual MP, rather than the Government.
I want to use the opportunity to address an issue that I know affects plenty of people here in Barnsley.
It’s no secret that our economy and the jobs people do have changed rapidly recently, and in Barnsley we’ve seen a huge shift to short-term and casual work.
Industries and employers who once provided well-paid and secure work have given way to insecure and precarious jobs that offer little long-term security.
Zero-hours contracts, fake self-employment, the gig economy, and agency work have fast become the norm.
Agency work in particular can be found throughout our economy and vast swathes of our local public services that depend on these workers.
But staff provided by a temporary agency simply don’t receive the same rights and treatment as permanent staff they are working alongside.
Despite working the same role, in the same job, with the same employer, legal loopholes allow agency workers to be paid less with fewer rights and protections, for example against unfair dismissal.
They’re also kept in ‘temporary’ roles for years and years at a time without the prospect of a long-term contract, used essentially as permanent staff by unscrupulous employees who want all the benefits of a long-term worker without providing any of the commitments of long-term financial and job security the agency worker deserves.
My Bill will close these dodgy legal loopholes that allow workers to be paid less with fewer protections, summarily sacked without recourse by unethical companies, and kept in roles long-term without a long-term contract that offers financial security.
It’s a simple question of fairness and equality in the workplace, and hopefully – if successful – my Bill will make that a reality for the many agency workers in Barnsley for whom it is long overdue.