Taylor review – modern working practices and the impact of the “gig” economy

11 Jul 2017 | Comment


Matthew Taylor, was commissioned last year by the Prime Minister to carry out a review of employment laws. His specific brief has been to take into account modern working practices and the impact of what is known as the “gig” economy.

Over nine months, Mr Taylor and his expert panel members met hundreds of employers, workers and employment experts to understand the modern labour market and how sectors and regions are affected by new ways of working.

His report is published today and calls on the government to adopt the ambition that all work should be fair and decent with scope for fulfilment and development.

Matthew Taylor’s 7 principles for fair and decent work are set out here:

  1. Our national strategy for work – the British way – should be explicitly directed toward the goal of good work for all, recognising that good work and plentiful work can and should go together. Good work is something for which government needs to be held accountable but for which we all need to take responsibility.
  2. Platform-based working (a business model which facilitates exchanges between 2 or more groups, usually consumers and producers), offers welcome opportunities for genuine two way flexibility and can provide opportunities for those who may not be able to work in more conventional ways. These should be protected while ensuring fairness for those who work through these platforms and those who compete with them. Worker (or ‘dependent contractor’ as we suggest renaming it) status should be maintained but we should be clearer about how to distinguish workers from those who are legitimately self-employed.
  3. The law and the way it is promulgated and enforced should help firms make the right choices and individuals to know and exercise their rights. Although there are some things that can be done to improve working practices for employees, the ‘employment wedge’ (the additional, largely non-wage, costs associated with taking someone on as an employee) is already high and we should avoid increasing it further. ‘Dependent contractors’ are the group most likely to suffer from unfair one-sided flexibility and therefore we need to provide additional protections for this group and stronger incentives for firms to treat them fairly.
  4. The best way to achieve better work is not national regulation but responsible corporate governance, good management and strong employment relations within the organisation, which is why it is important that companies are seen to take good work seriously and are open about their practices and that all workers are able to be engaged and heard.
  5. It is vital to individuals and the health of our economy that everyone feels they have realistically attainable ways to strengthen their future work prospects and that they can, from the beginning to the end of their working life, record and enhance the capabilities developed in formal and informal learning and in on-the-job and off-the-job activities.
  6. The shape and content of work and individual health and well-being are strongly related. For the benefit of firms, workers and the public interest we need to develop a more proactive approach to workplace health.
  7. The National Living Wage is a powerful tool to raise the financial base line of low paid workers. It needs to be accompanied by sectoral strategies engaging employers, employees and stakeholders to ensure that people – particularly in low paid sectors – are not stuck at the living wage minimum or facing insecurity but can progress in their current and future work.

The report has been welcomed by the government and I commented on the employment law aspects of it on the Radio this morning (11 July 2017). A clip is available here (the interview starts at 53:42).

It will take time to see how many of the aspirations in the Report become actual policy and/or new law. We will be keeping a close eye on this and provide updates when there is any news.

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