The government has published the review by Matthew Taylor into UK work practices. I would emphasise at this stage it is a report and while the recommendations have attracted several comments both positive and negative employers should remember that until legislation is passed to implement the report nothing has changed has yet changed in the workplace.

The report was commissioned because of the publicity generated by the so-called gig economy, zero hours contracts and the confusion that currently exists in law concerning employment status, whether people are employees, workers or subcontractors. The report into UK work practices also addressed the different interpretation of employee status by HMRC and Employment Tribunals.

The review suggests a national strategy to provide good work for all “for which government needs to be held accountable”

  • It takes the following into consideration when it talks about “good work“: wages, employment quality, education and training, working conditions, work life balance and consultative participation and collective representation
  • Everyone should enjoy a “baseline” of protection and be given routes to enable progression at work.

Dependent contractors

  • The report into UK work practices suggests those who work for platform-based companies, such as Deliveroo and Uber, be classed as dependent contractors. It suggested that dependent contractors should enjoy some employment benefits. The report also recommended extending some minimum pay rights to these workers, essentially making sure the average dependent contractor at any particular company is earning 1.2 times national minimum wage.
  • Individuals who prefer flexible working should be allowed to continue but they should be granted fairness at work the review suggested the creation of a right that would allow those who have worked on a zero-hours contract for 12 months or longer to request fixed hours from their employers that better reflect the hours they have been working.
  • There should be a clear distinction between dependent contractors and those who are legitimately self-employed. The report into UK work practices did not go as far as calling for tribunal fees to be scrapped, it did advocate some big changes to the system, including introducing a mechanism where people can have their employment status determined without having to pay them. The review also called for businesses that don’t pay awards from tribunal rulings within a reasonable timeframe to be named and shamed, while those companies that fail to change the status of their staff after a tribunal ruling and again get hauled up in front of a judge on the same issue could be hit with penalties.

National Living Wage

  • The National Living Wage is “a powerful tool” to raise the financial base line of low paid workers. The report into UK work practices also recommended that HMRC expand their investigations to include sick pay and holiday pay as well as minimum wage reviews
  • Strategies must be put in place, particularly in low paid sectors, to make sure workers do not get stuck on this rate of pay
  • Individuals must feel that they can make progress in their employment.

Cost of employment

  • The government should avoid further increasing the “employment wedge“, which is the non-wage costs of employing a person. The review highlights the apprenticeship levy as an expense companies have raised as an issue
  • The government must provide additional protections for dependent contractors.

Good corporate governance

  • The government does not need national regulation to provide good work
  • The report into UK work practices says companies must practise responsible corporate governance, good management and strong employment relations within their organisation.

Developing skills

  • All workers should feel they have realistically attainable ways to strengthen their future prospects at work
  • Individuals should also be able to develop their skills through “formal and informal learning” as well as “on the job and off the job activities.”

A healthy workplace

  • The UK needs to develop a more proactive approach to workplace health which will benefit companies, workers and the wider public interest.

This is a developing situation and a lot will depend on how the government intends to enact legislation to implement the report’s recommendations given the current precarious state of government it could be some time until the legislation especially as the opposition may not choose to work with the government

Employment status in the interim will remain a contentious subject for help and advice into UK work practices please contact me via this link >>>