Government Review into Modern Working Practices Published
The long awaited Taylor Review has recently been published. It was commissioned by the government to consider the implications of new models of working on the rights of workers and the obligations of employers in the UK. The report makes a number of recommendations intended to improve employment rights in the UK, as summarised below:
1. A New Category of Employment Status – ‘Dependant Contractors’
The review has found that while technology based companies such as Uber and Deliveroo offer a new flexible way of working, protections are required. It proposes that a new employment status of ‘Dependant Contractor’ should be introduced, replacing the current category of ‘worker’ and which should provide a clearer distinction as to who is genuinely self-employed and who is not.
The review did not agree with some commentators that there should only be two categories; employee and self-employed, as it found that the intermediate category was helpful in allowing basic protections to be applied to less formal employment relationships.
2. Determining Employment Status
The Taylor Review also recommends that if someone is deemed to be employed for tax purposes, then that decision should also be binding for employment law purposes. It is suggested that the government should develop an online tool to provide individuals with an indication of their employment status and that Employment Tribunals should be able to determine employment status without a fee being incurred. It also suggested that the burden for proving that the individual is not an employee/worker/dependent contractor should be placed on the employer.
3. Employment Contracts
The report suggested that it should be a legal requirement for employees and dependent contractors to receive a written statement of their employment terms from the first day of their job, including the rights they are entitled to, how these are calculated and how they are paid.
4. Zero Hour Contracts
The report suggests that instead of banning these types of contracts, zero hour workers should have the right to request a guaranteed number of hours after they have been employed for 12 months.
5. Greater Transparency
It was recommended that businesses should be more open about how they employ people, how many zero hour contracts they offer and the way in which they categorise their workforce. This should include the number of requests from zero hour workers for regular hours.
6. National Insurance Changes
The review suggested that the government’s proposal in the Spring Budget to reform national insurance paid by self-employed persons to be in line with that of employed persons was in fact correct, and recommended that it should be implemented.
7. Statutory Sick Pay (‘SSP’) and Long-Term Sickness Absence
Recommendations were made that SSP should be a basic employment right, comparable with national minimum wage which everyone should be entitled to, regardless of their income. However, it was suggested but that it should accrue with length of service so that an employer would not have to give a full six months of SSP to individuals who have only worked for them for a short period of time.
It also suggests that employees on long term sick leave should have their job protected for a reasonable period of time in a similar way to those on maternity leave.
While this is a summary of the main points of proposed amendments, the report itself outlines a host of proposed practical steps to achieve the above outcomes. At this stage these are proposals only and there will be no immediate impact on employment. We will continue to keep you up to date as and when proposals and firm implementation dates are announced.