News in Brief June 2017 Business groups in UK urge soft Brexit Business lobby groups in the UK have written to the business secretary Greg Clark, urging the government "to put the economy first" ahead of the start of Brexit talks on the 19th of June. The Confederation of British Industry, the British Chambers of Commerce, manufacturers' group EEF, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Institute of Directors said in a letter that a transitional deal should "maintain the economic benefits of the single market and the customs union until a final settlement between the United Kingdom and the European Union is agreed and implemented." They also called for a final deal that allows for tariff-free goods trade, minimal customs checks, mutual recognition of standards and regulations, and a "flexible" system of movement of labour between Britain and the EU. Law Society urges action on ‘gig economy’ workers The intervention from the Law Society, the professional body for solicitors, will increase pressure on the government to beef up the way employment rights are enforced in Britain. The Law Society says the UK government must assume greater powers to decide whether “gig economy” companies wrongly deny workers’ rights, arguing that relying on the current tribunal system doesn't work. "Our rights at work are not optional - they are the minimum standard to which we are entitled," said the Law Society president, Robert Bourns. "Our law relies on individuals taking their employer to court to get their rights recognised - a task that is simply beyond most people. Bad employers know this and take advantage of it to cut corners and underpay people, knowing they'll probably get away with it. An independent government inspector who can go into a business to ensure staff are being given their proper workplace rights will help put a stop to this exploitation, and put everyone on a fair and even playing field," he said. World’s first Social Mobility Employer Index is launched A social mobility index for UK employers, revealing how City firms have diversified their workforce and invested in work experience and mentoring programmes, has been published. The Social Mobility Commission was compiled in partnership with the City of London Corporation. It ranks employers according to steps they take to attract and promote staff from poorer families, based on voluntary submissions from 100 organisations. David Johnston, chief executive of the commission, said: "While no one firm has cracked the issue and there is still progress to be made, they should be congratulated both for having prioritised social mobility and for being prepared to have their processes and practices independently scrutinised." A Times leading article notes: "Enlightened employers cannot do all the hard work. The greatest factor in social mobility remains education, in particular the quality of teaching in state schools."