The Taylor Review into modern working practices was published some seven months ago. Following considerable speculation the Government has given its much anticipated response. A press release has been issued today entitled: "Millions to benefit from enhanced rights as Government responds to Taylor Review of modern working practices" followed by a full Government Response "Good Work: A response to the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices". The Government has committed to be responsible not just for the quantity of jobs but for the quality too.
The gig economy is gathering momentum with many organisations basing their business model on a truly flexible workforce. With the emergence of a new type of workforce, unsurprisingly comes the question of employment rights and worker protection.
The Taylor Review
In light of the above the Taylor Review was launched in November 2016 with a key focus on the rights and responsibilities of workers as well as employer freedoms and obligations. Matthew Taylor spent eight months gathering information from employers and the workforce about the UK's labour market. In July 2017 the Report was published with a focus on "good work" for all which is "fair and decent". The Review introduced the concept of "dependent contractor" to replace the current "worker" categorisation and recommended extra protection for the UK workforce, ranging from clarity over employment status to extra rights for those on zero hours contracts and agency workers.
The Government's press release sets out how it plans to respond to the Taylor Review. The Government asserts a commitment to embrace new ways of working and to be one of the first countries to prepare employment rules to reflect the new challenges of the changing world of work in the modern economy. Although the sentiments are clearly in line with the Taylor Review, only time will tell whether the Government's proposals make their way into legislation.
The key measures set out include:
- Enforcing vulnerable workers' holiday and sick pay.
- Providing a list of day one-rights including holiday and sick pay.
- A new right to a payslip for all workers (including zero-hour workers and casual workers).
- A right for all workers to request a more stable contract.
- Taking further action to ensure unpaid interns are not doing the same job of a worker.
- Naming and shaming employers who do not pay tribunal awards.
- Quadrupling employment tribunal fines for employers showing malice, spite or gross oversight to £20,000 and considering increasing penalties for employers who have previously lost similar cases.
A number of other measures are proposed through guidance rather than legislative reform. For example providing agency workers with a clear breakdown of who pays them and clarity over the definition of "working time" for flexible workers finding work through apps. It will be interesting to know what enforcement mechanism is envisaged (if any) for such proposals.
In addition to the measures set out in the press release the Government has also launched four consultations considering employment rights recommendations, agency workers, transparency in the UK labour market and employment status. The consultations are wide in scope in line with the Government's intention to "act on" 52 of the 53 proposals for reform made in the Taylor Review. The consultations close in May/June. We will keep you updated.
The Taylor Review has received much interest from both ends of the spectrum, from businesses to trade unions. With such far reaching consequences it was entirely foreseeable that the Government would put the proposals out for public consultation. The Government is clearly giving the Taylor Review serious consideration with an 80 page response and four detailed consultations.
While some have expressed disappointment and accused the Government of procrastination, arguably the Government has no option given that parliamentary time is currently almost entirely taken up by Brexit. The Government will need to garner cross parliamentary support, including from within its own party, before it will be able to pass new legislation or make amendments to primary legislation such as the Employment Rights Act to implement a number of the proposals.