Employment

The government has today issued a press release setting out an 80 page ‘Good Work plan’ in response to last year’s Taylor Review on modern working practices. Four consultations are planned but there will be no immediate changes to the law.

What is the government proposing to do?

  • Ensure day-one rights such as holiday pay and sick pay entitlements and a new right to a payslip for all workers, including casual and zero-hours workers.
  • Help enforce vulnerable workers’ rights to holiday pay and sick pay.
  • Introduce a right to request a ‘more stable contract’ (explained in the report as being a contract with more predictable and secure working conditions) for all workers including those on agency and zero-hours contracts. This goes further than the recommendation in the Taylor Review to allow zero-hours workers to ask for a secure contract after 12 months of work.
  • Make it easier for atypical workers to secure holiday rights by increasing the reference period to 52 weeks.
  • Make it easier for atypical workers to establish continuity of service by potentially extending the relevant break in service from one week to one month.
  • Extend the right to a written statement of particulars to all workers.
  • Provide all agency workers with a clear breakdown of who pays them, and any costs or charges deducted from their wages. Also, seek evidence on the extent of the abuse of the ‘Swedish derogation’ that allows work-seekers to opt-out of equal pay entitlements; and consider repealing the laws which allow agencies to employ workers on cheaper rates.
  • Ask the Low Pay Commission to consider the impact of higher minimum wage rates for workers on zero-hours contracts.
  • Define ‘working time’ for flexible workers who find jobs through apps or online so they know when they should be being paid.
  • Ensure unpaid interns are not doing the job of a worker.
  • Launch a task force with business to promote awareness and take-up of the right to request flexible working.
  • Make sure new and expectant mothers know their rights.
  • Launch a new campaign to encourage more working parents to share childcare through shared parental leave.
  • Introduce a new naming scheme for employers who fail to pay employment tribunal awards.
  • Quadruple employment tribunal fines for employers showing malice, spite or gross oversight to £20,000 and consider increasing penalties for employers who have previously lost similar cases.

What consultations are going to take place?

Four separate consultations have been published on:

  • Employment status – examining options, including new legislation, to make it easier for both the workforce and businesses to understand whether someone is an employee, worker, or self-employed and determine which rights and tax obligations apply to them. One of the options to be considered is the recommendation in the Taylor Review to retain the current three-tier approach to employment status but rename ‘workers’ as ‘dependent contractors’, with a focus on control rather than a requirement to do the work personally.
  • Enforcement of employment rights.
  • Agency workers.
  • Measures to increase transparency in the UK labour market.

Are all of the recommendations in the Taylor Review being implemented?

The Taylor Review ran to over 100 pages with recommendations on a wide range of topics. Read our summary here.

Today’s press release states that all but one of Matthew Taylor’s 53 recommendations will be implemented (although whether that turns out to be the case will depend on the outcome of future consultations). The only recommendation which is not being taken forward is the proposal to equalise national insurance for employees and the self-employed. National insurance contributions for the self-employed will, therefore, not be increased.

What next?

The government’s proposals are to be welcomed, particularly those aimed at clarifying the employment status of those working in the gig economy. However, many of the plans are being taken forward by way of consultation and may, in some cases, result in increased guidance rather than legislative change. We are, therefore, still not much further forward in knowing exactly how and when the changes will happen in practice. The devil will be in the detail.

If you want to discuss any aspect of the Taylor Review and the government’s response that might impact on your business, please get in touch. Otherwise, we will provide updates via our blog, or Workbox users can keep up-to-date via our What’s new? page.

Julie Keir

Julie Keir

Professional Support Lawyer at Brodies LLP
Julie is a Professional Support Lawyer and provides the employment team with essential resources including guidance notes, styles and training materials. She also produces regular blogs and maintains Workbox, the team's online HR resource.
Julie Keir