The Government has today published ‘Good Work’, its response to the Taylor Review which investigated what impact modern working practices are having on the world of work. The Taylor Review published its report in July 2017 and made wide-ranging recommendations regarding reforms of the law on agency work, paid holiday, sick pay, flexible working and employee representation. The review found that the strength of the UK’s labour market is built on flexibility but that a clearer focus is needed on quality of work as well as the quantity of jobs.
The Government says that it will take forward all but one of the Taylor Review’s 53 recommendations. It has specifically rejected proposals to reduce the difference between the National Insurance contributions of employees and the self-employed and has no plans to revisit this issue. However, in many cases the Government is only proposing to consider or seek views on the Taylor recommendations and it has rejected parts of some recommendations. The result is considerably less radical than the headlines might suggest.
The Government is launching a detailed consultation 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. The consultation closes on 1 June.
The Government is also proposing to:
- Increase the holiday pay reference period from 12 weeks to 52 weeks;
- Introduce a right for all workers to request a more predictable contract;
- Extend the right to a statement of written particulars to all workers from day one and consult on what information to include;
- Extend the right to an itemised payslip to all workers;
- Ask the Low Pay Commission to explore the impact of introducing a new national minimum wage rate for hours that are not guaranteed;
- Consult on extending the relevant break in service for the calculation of the qualifying period of continuous service beyond the current week (but not necessarily to a month as recommended by Taylor);
- Consult on how definitions of working time (for the purposes of the national minimum wage) can and should apply to platform working;
- Consult on whether to repeal the ‘Swedish derogation’ in respect of agency workers;
- Introduce a naming and shaming scheme for unpaid employment tribunal awards;
- Raise the maximum penalty for aggravated breach of employment rights from £5,000 to at least £20,000 (although since the penalty was introduced in 2014 only 20 have been imposed);
- Launch a new campaign to encourage more working parents to share childcare through shared parental leave. Yesterday BEIS published a set of guidance and tools for parents thinking of taking shared parental leave; and
- Carry out research on potential reform of statutory sick pay.
The Government is launching 3 additional consultations:
- Consultation on enforcement of employment rights recommendations, including a proposal for HMRC to enforce rights to sick pay and holiday pay on behalf of low paid workers. The consultation closes on 16 May;
- Consultation on agency workers recommendations including repeal of the Swedish derogation. The consultation closes on 9 May; and
- Consultation on measures to increase transparency in the UK labour market, including the proposal to lower the threshold for employees to request an information and consultation forum. The consultation closes on 23 May.
The Government is not taking forward the proposal to give ‘dependent contractors’ the opportunity to receive rolled-up holiday pay, or the proposal to reverse the burden of proof in employment status claims.
It should also be noted that the Government has specifically stated that it has not ruled out re-introducing fees in the employment tribunal system at some point in the future.
Although today’s response and consultation papers will move the debate on the issues raised by the Taylor Review forward, specific legislative change may still be some way off, particularly in the more complex areas such as employment/worker status.