‘Good work : the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices’ and the Gig economy
The recently published government commissioned report by Matthew Taylor, a former aide to Tony Blair, into employment practices in the UK has recommended that workers for gig economy firms such as Uber and Deliveroo should be re-classified as dependent contractors. The status of dependent contractor would fit somewhere between fully employed and self-employed and they would be entitled to certain employment rights and benefits.
As recent tribunal cases have shown, some gig economy employers have argued that drivers and couriers are self-employed, with very limited employment rights. Uber is currently challenging the tribunal decision that its drivers are not self-employed but fall into the category of worker, meaning they are entitled to minimum wage, paid holiday and the right not to work more than 48 hours on average per week.
Under the recommendations of the Taylor Review, dependent contractors will be able to request a fixed number of working hours from their employer, which is designed to promote a balance between flexibility and job security. They will also be entitled to benefits not currently afforded to the self-employed such as sick pay and holiday. The review sets out seven principles for “fair and decent work” that aim to maintain the flexibility of zero hours contracts whilst preventing businesses taking advantage of insecure workers.
However the report stopped short of suggesting zero hours contracts should be banned and has been criticised by trade unions for not going far enough to shift the balance of power between businesses and workers. The general secretary of the TUC, Frances Grady, has commented that the review is not the “game changer” that is needed to provide job security and end exploitation and that the right to request guaranteed hours is meaningless for most zero-hours contract workers as businesses are under no obligation to agree.
Gig economy employers already have the option of giving worker status to those working under zero hours contracts. The Taylor review is proposing to reclassify workers as dependent contractors in law to reflect the recent judicial decisions in the gig economy cases referred to above. This will provide greater clarity as to category of worker which will be welcomed by employers, but trade unions will be looking to ensure the category is clearly defined, properly implemented and fully enforced and regulated to address the issue of insecurity that is the principal objection to zero hours contracts.
According to www.gov.uk ‘This independent review considers the implications of new forms of work on worker rights and responsibilities, as well as on employer freedoms and obligations. It sets out 7 principles to address the challenges facing the UK labour market.’
A copy of the Review can be downloaded from the gov.uk website by clicking here