Finally published a year after its announcement, “Good Work: The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices” runs to 116 pages and contains many recommendations for change, including several that are of particular interest to employers and HR teams.
‘Worker’ status scrapped
The Taylor Review proposes that a new category, ‘dependent contractor’, should replace the current ‘worker’ status. The change makes a distinction between workers who are genuinely self-employed but deliver the services personally, and those who are, in effect, dependent on the business they work for. The proposal attempts to inject some clarity into the current grey area existing in the gig economy.
Many workers complain that the perceived flexibility does not exist in reality, with some companies accused of penalising workers who refuse to work certain hours. The issue of ‘control’ is crucial: where the balance of control lies with the employer, the ‘dependent contractor’ would qualify for greater protection, such as sick and holiday pay.
Zero hours contracts remain but could become limited
The Taylor Review stops short of recommending a ban on zero hours contracts altogether. However, the report recommends that zero hours contracts should be limited to a 12-month period. After this, workers could request a guaranteed hours contract, based on the hours worked the previous year. Workers would be eligible for additional benefits and protection as a result.
Similarly, agency workers placed with the same hirer for 12 months, would be able to request a direct contract of employment. Platforms linking workers with customers requiring a service, may have to demonstrate that they pay their typical worker 1.2 times the national minimum wage.
Complications, criticism and conclusions
There’s no doubt that the Taylor Review could give the employment landscape a big shake-up. Matthew Taylor is trying to replace ‘bad work’ that is ‘insecure, exploitative, controlling’ with a new vision of ‘good work’.
However, some believe that the changes do not go far enough. The Labour Party immediately described the report as a “missed opportunity”. Some legal experts suggest that the ‘dependent contractor’ status is both unnecessary and unclear. Others note that paying platform-based workers above the national minimum wage is difficult to manage in practice. But despite the criticisms, the Review could potentially transform work for the future. Only time will tell what its true impact will be on employers and workers in the UK.