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Taylor Review: The Industry Reacts

Yesterday saw the reveal of the Taylor Review, the independent review of employment practices in the modern economy, which received mixed reviews from employers and employees

12 July 2017
Kimberley Dondo

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the Royal Society of the Arts, led the review which considered the changes that need to be implemented to employment practices in order to keep up with modern business models.

The 115-page report addressed 6 key themes:

  • Security, pay and rights
  • Progression and training
  • The balance of rights and responsibilities
  • Representation
  • Opportunities for under-represented groups
  • New business models

Of the issues that were covered in the review, the current state of the gig economy employment stood out as the most dominant. The gig economy is becoming one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy and many workers in this position often face low wages, irregular shifts and few, if any, employment rights. This why the review has declared that all employment in the UK should be “fair and decent with realistic scope for development and fulfilment”.

Graham Vidler, director of external affairs, Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association, commented:

“Almost five million people or 15% of the UK workforce identify as self-employed. This has grown 25% in the last ten years at the same time as pension saving among self-employed people has fallen precipitously.”

“New rights for those working in the gig economy are welcome and Government needs to provide clarity around dependent contractors and automatic enrolment. Dependent contractors should be treated as workers for the purposes of automatic enrolment and be automatically enrolled into a workplace pension. Government now has a window in which to address this.”

It comes as so no surprise that the desire for flexible working is increasing, with 91% of UK employees valuing this as the most valued employee benefit according to Epoq’s survey. This has led to a boom in gig economy workers.

“The nature of work is clearly changing. More people are wanting greater flexibility – and the gig economy is powered by people at the radical end of this spectrum. However, the desires for flexibility and support are not mutually exclusive and – as the report identifies – there needs to be a baseline of employee support across all business types to ensure employees receive the protection they need.” Jack Curzon, head of scheme design, Thomsons Online Benefits adds.

“Some gig economy employers may resent this review – but implementing measures will lead to long-term benefits. The gig economy is growing and businesses within it are facing the age-old challenges of competition, talent acquisition and retention. If anything, the review presents a wake-up call to employers, who should use the recommendations to develop a robust support package for employees, that can be used to differentiate themselves from their competitors and create a healthy, more productive workforce.”

The review, however, has been met with a sense of disappointment as union bosses feel the report doesn’t contain enough “hard” rights for exploited workers. Although Mr Taylor’s report does recommend a new category of worker called a “dependant contractor”, many feel this does not mean these workers will be provided with any extra protection.

Stuart Chamberlain, lead commentator for Wolters Kluwer Croner-i HR sympathises with these feelings stating:

“All in all, the Review is likely to come as a disappointment to those who hoped for more radical suggestions. It has already been labelled as “feeble” by Thompsons, the trade union solicitors.   It is wishy-washy on employment protection rights:  there is a lot about “requesting” and “receiving” but little on “hard” rights. It is also debateable whether the new employment status of “Dependant contractor” is necessary.” 

“There is very little in the Review to worry employers unduly - even those of the hard-nosed Victorian disposition.”

Whether the Prime Minister will use this review to make any substantial changes to current employment practices, time can only tell, however changing regulation won’t be the quick fix to all the problems facing modern business models.

Chamberlain continues: “Prime Minister Theresa May has said the government will look at the report's recommendations seriously. It remains to be seen, however, whether this will happen. The PM is faced with parliamentary uncertainty and there must be a doubt whether her administration has the inclination, let alone the time – bearing in mind the travails of immigration and the Brexit process – actually to do much with these recommendations.”

The Review offers a number of recommendations to the Government towards achieving such “fair and decent work”:

  • Task the Low Pay Commission with examining how a higher National Minimum Wage rate might apply to non-guaranteed hours;
  • Develop legislation to make it easier for all working people to receive basic details about their employment relationship;
  • Make it easier for people in very flexible arrangements to receive holiday entitlements;
  • Develop legislation that allows agency workers and those on zero hours contracts the ability to request a more formal working relationship.

 


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