Love it, hate it, might never try it: The Government responds to the Taylor Review

A new ‘series of actions to protect the rights of workers in the UK’ was announced late last week in the wake of the recent Taylor Review (1).

In what appears to be a response to the widely received criticism of the Taylor Review (notably the considerable vagueness of the government’s initial response), the latest actions include: ‘legislation clarifying worker status, agency workers’ rights and a proposed pilot for a national minimum wage and national living wage pay premium’ (1).

People Management highlights that the new actions seek to further intentions set out initially, to offer ‘greater clarity around employment status given the number of cases currently being pursued through the courts relating to gig economy businesses’.

In support of a recent report into agency workers, that found 6 in 10 agency workers were employed for more than a year in the same role at the same workplace – the government confirmed it intends to amend the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 to remove the opt-out for equal pay, preventing organisations from recruiting workers on extended agency contracts and keeping them on low pay (1).

They continued by pledging to explore ‘the options for reforming employment status for both employment rights and tax to achieve greater clarity and certainty’. Further consideration of the ‘worker by default’ model of employment – which would mean that for “companies that have a self-employed workforce above a certain size” the category of worker by default would be law – potentially significantly impacting the likes of Uber and Deliveroo (1).

In its current state, the proposed legislation would offer further protections although unfortunately ‘would not guarantee full employment rights for gig economy workers’. On the subject, General Secretary of the Independent Union of Workers of Great Britain, Dr Jason Moyer-Lee, reminded that “the wide-scale deprivation of employment rights is not unique to Uber, it is rampant across the private hire sector in the UK” (1).

The government also reaffirmed its stance on cracking down on employers that “repeatedly ignore both their responsibilities and the decisions of employment tribunals”, adding: “exploitation of workers cannot be allowed to become a competitive advantage and the government cannot allow good businesses to be undercut by those who ignore court rulings” (1).

In response to calls by MPs to bolster the position of precarious workers, a pilot of a pay premium to the national minimum wage and national living wage for workers on non-contracted hours, is also being considered (1).

Despite other accepted recommendations including employers having a ‘duty to provide a written statement of employment conditions to cover workers as well as full-time employees that should apply from day one of a new job’ – not all of the actions were welcomed (1).

Critics maintain that only a “small number of recommendations” have been taken on from the review, which are “not substantial” and have accused the government of just “tinkering around” (1).

Commitments to further consultation in some cases appear to have fallen short, with other critics highlighting further delays before “any final acceptance or work starts on designing and implementing the changes” (1).

Just like the Taylor Review itself, and the title of my previous blog, it seems that the government’s latest action plan is like Marmite too – people might love it or hate it, but will the government ever try it? Time will tell.

Sources

  1. Originally published at: https://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/news/articles/government-backs-default-worker-status-taylor-review
  2. For the Government’s initial response, visit: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/679767/180206_BEIS_Good_Work_Report__Accessible_A4_.pdf