The Taylor review of modern working practices has been published by the government this week. Our employment team look at the seven key recommendations and the possible implications these could have for employers.
From an employer’s perspective…
‘Casual workers’ is a term that can be used to describe a group of individuals engaged across a wide range of industries in many different circumstances, primarily in a flexible and often ad hoc way, such as via zero hours contracts, a term which many employers and businesses are familiar with. Casual workers are also frequently referred to as the ‘Gig Economy.’
The reason for casual workers varies greatly across business sectors, and over the last few decades, it has been widely accepted that casual workers were initially relied upon in such businesses and industries where work flow and demand was not consistent.
Today however, as the concept of modern day business continues to rapidly grow, organisations of all sizes are appearing to recognise and acknowledge the flexibility which casual workers can afford to their developing business models. While this is great for business, the gig economy in some respects continues to be some way behind with regards to equal treatment, and as a result, demands for such treatment have been increasing.
In light of this, Theresa May commissioned Matthew Taylor – former policy chief to Tony Blair and chief executive of the royal society of arts to head up the review of; employment practices in the modern economy. The review, published on 11th July 2017 has already become a popular discussion topic.
The review has identified seven key areas for which it has made recommendations, and here at Harrison Drury, we want to be clear on what this could mean for you as employers and developing organisations, and what changes we might expect to see in the future in relation to the current legal frameworks.
The recommendations are as follows;
- There should be a national “good work” strategy for all
This looks at the concept of good and plentiful work for all individuals, relating to aspects such as education and training, work life balance, wages and other equal provision concepts.
The review notes that this is a recommendation for which all within the economy (including the government) need to take responsibility for, and provides the following examples;
- The same basic principles and fair balance of rights should apply to all forms of employment within the British economy.
- Make the taxation of labour more consistent across the various employment forms
- Make better use of evolving and improving technologies
- Platform based working / Dependant contractors
- The review clarifies that those who prefer flexible working should be permitted to continue with a flexible working approach, along with the reassurance of fair treatment.
- Help firms to make the right choices and individuals to know and exercise their rights
- The government needs to further avoid making increases to the ‘employment wedge’ (the non-wage costs of employing an individual) which for many organisations, can operate as a deterrent when making engagements. The review has also referred to the apprenticeship levy as an expense which can cost businesses significant amounts.
- Have responsible corporate governance in place
- To help encourage the recommendations put forwards within the review, management structures, processes and procedures need to clearly identify what it is a business is seeking to achieve and how it intends to achieve it. Strong, efficient and fair management teams are key.
- Developing skills
- Have clear progression programmes / career mapping routes set out within business models so all categories of workers can be clear on what’s available to them and how they can continue to develop their skills.
- Develop a more proactive approach to work place health
- The content of work and individual health and well-being are strongly related. Under this recommendation, business should be seen to be promoting and encouraging good work place health, exercising flexible working policies and making required adjustments for workers with dependants where it’s appropriate to do so etc.
- The National Living Wage
- This is a powerful tool in respect of raising the financial parameters of the lower paid workers. Sufficient strategies need to be determined and actioned in order to avoid low paid sector workers becoming ‘fixed’ on this rate of pay. All categories of workers, employers and stakeholders would be required to be on board.
Cash paid workers
The review also touches on the concept of cash paid work (mainly in respect of self-employed workers) and the wider impact on the economy in respect of what tax amounts are being paid – referred to within the review as ‘The Hidden Economy.’
The review suggests the; government should consider accrediting a range of platforms designed to support the move towards more cashless transactions with a view to increasing transparency of payments, supporting individuals to pay the right tax.
Several recommendations for the government are set out within the Review, whether or not the government acts on such recommendations, we will have to wait and see.
While this review is a positive step in the right direction for the gig economy and potentially the wider tax paying economy, it will bring to many organisations attentions a need to review existing policies, produces and approaches, and for some, a much wider culture change.
In respect of the gig economy in particular following the above recommendations, we could expect to see changes to existing equality laws, such as the current Equality Act and Working Times Regulations. We may also see the development of new legislation and regulation, further enforcing the above concepts. To a large extent, legal obligations and statutory duties will develop based on the economy’s reaction and interpretation of the review.
Whilst it is not yet clear on exactly what or if any legislative changes this review will encourage, what is clear is that this review has already become a key focal point within the growing economy and that these recommendations will be expected to be demonstrated by organisations going forwards as a concept of good and fair practice.
The full review can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/good-work-the-taylor-review-of-modern-working-practices
Here at Harrison Drury, we want to ensure that our clients fully understand the significance of this review and as such, we are ready to assist and support on all business scales, ensuring the relevant and required advice and guidance is delivered so like us, you can seek to make it possible for everyone.
For more information on how this might affect you or your business, or any other HR and employment law matter contact Roger Spence on 01772 208072.
Find out more about HR Compass, Harrison Drury’s specialist employment law product. HR Compass comprises three core components designed to offer seamless financial and business continuity protection for businesses. These include an employment law health check, expert fixed-fee employment law advice and an insurance policy to protect against the cost of employment claims.