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Taylor Review suggests protection for ‘Dependent Contractors’

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The independent Taylor review into modern employment practices has highlighted seven principles to achieve ‘good quality work for all’.

Matthew Taylor, who was commissioned last year by the Prime Minister to carry out this review called for a fresh look to be taken at employment laws to make it easier for workers to understand and access their rights.

Among its key recommendations is that there should be protection for those working through the ‘platform based model, such as Uber. It renames these ‘workers’ as ‘Dependent Contractors’, and flags up that it should be clear how they are distinguished from ‘legitimately self-employed’.

The seven principles are:

1. A national strategy for work should be explicitly directed toward the goal of ‘good work for all’. It is something for which Government needs to be held accountable, but for which everyone needs to take responsibility. It says: “The same basic principles should apply to all forms of employment in the British economy – there should be a fair balance of rights and responsibilities, everyone should have a baseline of protection and there should be routes to enable progression at work. Over the long term, in the interests of innovation,fair competition and sound public finances we need to make the taxation of labour more consistent across employment forms while at the same time improving the rights and entitlements of self-employed people.”

2. Platform-based working (a business model which provides exchanges between two or more groups, usually consumers and producers), offers opportunities for genuine two way flexibility and can be beneficial for those who may not be able to work in more conventional ways (companies Uber operate like this). It says: “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 the Taylor review suggests 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 promoted and enforced, should help firms make the right choices and individuals to know and exercise their rights. The ’employment wedge’ (the additional, largely non-wage costs associated with taking on an employee) is already high and increasing it further should be avoided. It says: “Dependent contractors are the group most likely to suffer from unfair, one sided flexibility and therefore there should be 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 an 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 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 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 Government will now be engaging with stakeholders across the country, including those who represent employers and employees, to understand their views ahead of publishing a full Government response later in the year.

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