On 11 July, Matthew Taylor published his much anticipated Taylor Review Report on modern working practices. Entitled Good Work, the Report is a fresh and, at times, aspirational look at how the structures applicable to modern working practices might be overhauled and refreshed for the 21st century and beyond. The key theme underpinning the Report is that all work should be “good work”.
The Report sets out specific recommendations and advocates strategic shifts aimed at better reflecting and supporting the changing way in which we work. It is, in the main, a balanced report aimed at achieving fairness and certainty in the labour market. Nevertheless the Report has not been universally welcomed. On the one hand, both the TUC and the Labour Party have criticised the Report for being insufficiently radical. And, on the other, the CBI has raised concerns about some of the proposals and suggested they could negatively affect job creation.
It is now for the government to review the Report and to determine to what extent its recommendations should be implemented through legislation or other means. The recommendations in the Report which are key for business are summarised below – we look at each of these in detail in our briefing which can be accessed here.
- Employment status – a three tier framework should be retained but ‘worker’ status should be replaced by ‘dependent contractor’ status and each worker category should be exclusive. The aim is to make it easier to distinguish between employees, dependent contractors and those who are genuinely self-employed. This new framework should be reinforced by changes to the employment tribunal system aimed at making it more straightforward for individuals to establish their employment status quickly and without paying a tribunal fee.
- Enforcement – additional changes to the tribunal system should be made to make it easier and cheaper for workers to enforce tribunal awards and to encourage employers to apply tribunal decisions to their wider workforces, where appropriate.
- Workforce rights – the Report makes a number of recommendations in relation to individual workforce rights, eg it advocates increased protections for agency workers and zero hours workers in relation to pay and working hours, and promotes the increased use of the right to request flexible working.
- Voice in the workplace – there should be increased engagement with employees, particularly amongst SMEs – the Report recommends this is achieved by broadening the scope of the Information and Consultation of Employees (ICE) Regulations to include ‘dependent contractors’ and by lowering the threshold level of support at which ICE must be applied from 10% to 2% of the workforce.
- Employment taxes – the scope of the Taylor Review did not extend to a consideration of the employment tax regime, but the Report nevertheless makes comments about the direction it believes the tax regime should take – its fundamental recommendation is that the cost of labour should be neutral and the tax regime should be adapted to ensure this is the case.
- Development - Whilst acknowledging that development is a very broad issue, the two key areas for employers that the Report looks at are apprenticeships and transferable skills:
- it believes the apprenticeship levy is a positive influence but should also be better used to encourage diversity in apprenticeships;
- it advocates a standardised approach to certain transferable skills and recommends new systems of lifelong learning.