Just over a week ago, the Taylor Review of modern employment practice, commissioned by Theresa May upon her appointment as Prime Minister, was published.
Author Matthew Taylor, said: “The review calls on the Government to adopt the ambition that all work should be fair and decent with scope for fulfilment and development. Despite the impact of the national living wage and tax credits, there will always be people who are in work but finding it hard to make ends meet. Our social contract with those people should include dignity at work and the realistic scope to progress”.
A number of adaptations to employment law are suggested to support this. These include renaming the status of ‘worker’ to ‘dependent contractor’, increases in national living wages rates for those who have non-guaranteed hours, and rights for agency staff to request fixed hours after a certain length of service. These headline recommendations are motivated by the need to address exploitation and the potential for exploitation at work.
However, the report has been criticised by both employment lawyers and trade unions for failing to suggest adequate improvements for ‘gig economy’ workers within its recommendations. There are also those who disagree with the report for not suggesting zero hours contracts are outlawed.
The 116 page document recommends around 30 changes to employment law within its’ content, among these:
- The Government need to develop an online tool, similar to HMRC’s ‘Employment Status Indicator Tool’ which can offer individuals a means of establishing their own employment status, and accordingly their rights.
- The 12 week reference period for holiday pay should be extended to 52 weeks, as a means to ensure fairness for individuals whose pay is seasonally affected
- Statutory Sick Pay should become a basic employment right in the same way minimum wage is i.e. all workers should be eligible from day one
- Cash in hand payments for jobs should be phased out and replaced with platforms such as PayPal.
- If NI contributions are raised for the self-employed, then accordingly there should be improvements to family friendly rights and pension arrangements for these individuals
- Agency workers who have 12 months service or more should have the right to request a direct employment contrac
Overall, the review highlights that “quantity alone is not enough for a thriving society and fair society” and calls for a “significant shift in the quality of work in the UK economy”.
Theresa May has promised to look at these recommendations “very carefully and seriously” but has committed to nothing more as of yet.