The Marmite Taylor Review: you’ll love it or hate it

The Government’s response to the Taylor Review was recently published to mixed reviews, after much anticipation about the impact the report might bring to the world of work and so-called ‘gig’ economy.

The response included a number of new rights for the UK’s flexible workforce, along with stiffer penalties for organisations that breach contracts or mistreat workers, while announcing further consultations on the future of the UK workforce.

Some recruitment industry trade bodies have welcomed the outcomes with Kevin Green, CEO of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation commenting that he is “pleased to see the Government working towards more consistency and transparency around the rights and status of people working in the gig economy”.

Other organisations were either disappointed as to the extent that the proposals will influence working practices in reality and what was subsequently missing, or were furious with the vagueness of the proposed rights.

Kevin Green expressed his disappointment that government had not made a decision around improving the Apprenticeship Levy by turning it into a broader training levy, whilst the UK’s largest Union, Unite, condemned the report for “failing to deliver on its promise to tackle insecure work”. Leader of Unite, Len McCluskey continued that “the report does nothing to address the rampaging growth in forced self-employment, which has shot up as the Government’s austerity programme bites. One in six workers in this country fall into this category, denied sick pay, holiday pay, their basic rights and a pension”.

So, what were the specifics that are likely to affect payroll and HR professionals? There’s no doubt that the most significant recommendations are around employment status.

  • Consult (again!) on improving clarity between definitions of employment status, including possibly a statutory definition of status. Introduce a new category of ‘dependent contractor’ and attempt to align definitions for employment rights and tax. Reverse the burden of proof in status cases so that the employer must prove the individual is not entitled to the relevant employment rights, not the reverse
  • Give dependent contractors the right to receive rolled-up holiday pay
  • Legislate to require that all workers receive important employment rights information in a clear format from day one
  • Allow workers the right to request a contract with more predictable and secure working conditions
  • Increase the holiday pay reference period to 52 weeks rather than 12
  • Re-define working time to ensure that gig economy workers receive the correct number of hours at national minimum wage
  • Extend the right to an itemised payslip for all workers
  • Promote rights such as shared parental leave and the right to request flexible working
  • The Low Pay Commission to consider if there should be a higher minimum wage rate for zero hours contracts, and the right to request a contract that guarantees hours for those on zero-hour contracts who have been in post for 12 months – this would better reflect normal hours worked
  • Introduce a right to request a direct contract of employment for agency workers who have been placed with the same end user for 12 months, and an obligation for that end user are to consider the request in a reasonable manner
  • Require companies of a certain size to publicise the make-up of their workforce eg e.g. use of zero hours, agency workers etc
  • Reform Statutory Sick Pay so that it is explicitly a basic employment right for which all workers are eligible regardless of income from day one and increase based on length of service (a review of SSP is underway already with DWP as a result of last year’s disability Green paper). Provide a right to the same job after a period of sickness absence like other statutory leave

As to timescales, four consultation papers have been published (see links) with an end date of June 2018 so the legislative changes will not even be drafted until after March next year. This is due to government departments being told that nothing can be legislated for until after Brexit, unless it is drafted by the end of March 2017, which these proposals cannot be. Anyway, it will be interesting to see which of the recommendations that have been accepted by the government are actually put into practice following the official consultation of employers, employees and trade unions.

Consultations:

Employment status

Enforcement of employment rights recommendations

Agency workers

Transparency in the labour market

Sources

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/18/taylor-review-gig-economy-workers

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/matthew-taylor-report-unions-slam-review-which-spectacularly-fails-a7835191.html

http://www.recruiter.co.uk/news/2018/02/recruitment-trade-bodies-welcome-response-taylor-review-flexible-working

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/679765/180206_BEIS_Good_Work_Report.pdf