Gig economy workers, temporary workers, part-time workers and those on zero-hours contracts enjoy fewer health and wellbeing protections than their permanent, full-time counterparts. That’s the key message to come out of a recently published survey by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).
According to the survey conducted by market research company Opinium, which polled some 500 non-permanent workers on behalf of IOSH, many were working unpaid overtime, working when sick and going throughout the year without a paid holiday.
Furthermore, when it comes to things like fire safety inductions and personal protective equipment, non-permanent employees also miss out.
The treatment of so-called “gig workers” is a topical issue, with companies like Uber and Deliveroo hitting the headlines in recent times because of the way they employ non-permanent workers. In addition, the government-commissioned Taylor Review into modern work practices, which was published in July last year, outlined a range of issues for individuals who are not employed permanently and full-time.
In fact, there’s never been a better time than now for companies to consider how they treat all their employees, especially gig workers and part-time staff. With this in mind, IOSH suggests businesses be more up front with individuals during the recruitment process and manage their expectations accordingly.
Shelley Frost, IOSH director of strategic development, said: “Workplace health risks don’t discriminate according to your employment status. Work-related stress, fire risk, etc. – these all pose the same threat to permanent and temporary workers. There shouldn’t be discrepancies between when it comes to safeguarding their safety, health and wellbeing.
“We would welcome up-front agreements between employers and temporary workers that set out the same level of care for their health and wellbeing as permanent employees, and linked to their role.”
Based on the findings of their survey, the IOSH has documented a list of suggestions employers might include in such an agreement:
A Full Induction
Just over half of non-permanent workers receive a full induction process, including fire procedures, compared to two-thirds of their full-time counterparts. This is just downright dangerous and could result in a serious situation should a fire occur.
Clarity on Sick Pay
Some 64% of non-permanent employees are working without sick pay, with half working when they’re not feeling well to ensure they get paid. One survey respondent even said they were sent into work while suffering with the norovirus.
Access to Occupational Health Support
Only a third of non-permanent workers have access to occupational health support, compared to 54% of their permanent colleagues, even though an individual on a short-term contract is no less prone to falling ill than anyone else.
Assessment of Individual Work Area
Only one quarter of non-permanent employees who responded to the IOSH survey said they had received one of these. Even if an individual is only working with a company for a matter of months, such an assessment can boost their health, wellbeing and productivity.
Invites to Social Events
Social events, like Christmas parties, play an important role when it comes to workforce bonding and morale, which is why temporary workers should also be given invites and made to feel like part of the team.
Are companies treating their staff the same regardless of employment status? This new research from the IOSH suggests not. Inequality in the workplace has the potential to disrupt productivity, which is why businesses should always strive to treat all their workers equally.
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