11 July 2017
Taylor Review tackles gig economy worker rights
A 115-page, wide-scale review of employment practices has been published - with the headline claim that all work in the UK economy should be "fair and decent".
Routes need to be available for all people to progress in the workplace, author Matthew Taylor said, especially those on lower pay scales.
Among its several recommendations, Mr Taylor's report suggests a range of benefits - as well as National Insurance - should be paid by any firm which supervises and controls its workers.
Also central to the findings was the recommended introduction of 'dependent contractors', a new category of employee working in the so-called gig economy, who should be afforded added protections.
Those working for the likes of Deliveroo and Uber were among those in prime focus. Mr Taylor said: "Of all the issues that were raised with us as we went around the country, the one that came through most strongly was what the report calls one-sided flexibility.
"One-sided flexibility is where employers seek to transfer all risk onto the shoulder of workers in ways that make people more insecure and makes their lives harder to manage. It's the people told to be ready for work or travelling to work, only to be told none is available."
The review also tackled the minimum living wage claiming low-paid workers should not be in a situation where they are either stuck at this base rate, or facing long-term insecurity.
Mr Taylor also made recommendations around legislation to make it easy for all working people to receive their basic employment details up front and reforms to holiday pay allowances so flexible workers aren't short-changed. In addition, he suggested that agency workers and those on zero hours contracts should be given the capability to ask for a more formal arrangement with their employers.
“The Taylor report could have far-reaching implications for employers, as it advocates changes to the employment status of workers and harsher punishments for employers at employment tribunals,” comments Chris Brazier, senior associate in the employment team at B P Collins.
“Among the many recommendations in the report is the recommendation that a new mechanism be introduced whereby individuals can have their employment status determined by a tribunal without having to pay any of the usual tribunal fees. The proposed new definition of a 'dependent contractor' may, however, add further confusion to the already-complicated concept of employment status. This could, in turn, make it more difficult for the vulnerable individuals falling into this category to gain access to justice.
"In the recent employment tribunal decisions, prominent gig economy employers have been required to give their workers basic benefits, such as sick pay, holiday leave and the national living wage. However, these cases have also highlighted the complexity of this area of law and difficulties for individuals in bringing such cases.
"Many people had campaigned for these rights and responsibilities to be clearly set out in legislation. The Taylor report, however, states that regulation is not the best way to improve workers’ experiences. The report instead calls for more responsible corporate governance, better management and stronger employment relations, emphasising that companies should strive to be open about their practices and make sure all their workers are engaged and feel heard by their employers. It remains to be seen just how this will happen in practice.”