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The Taylor Review – big changes on the way for employment-related law

The Taylor Review has undertaken a detailed look at working practices in the UK and recommended many changes to the way in which employment and worker…

The Taylor Review has undertaken a detailed look at working practices in the UK and recommended many changes to the way in which employment and worker rights should be protected. In particular the review looked at the gig economy and the increase in self-employed engagements. The report’s recommendations are far-reaching and will be debated for some time, but if implemented the proposals will make a significant difference to all involved in engaging people in the UK.

The detail

Perhaps the most significant change proposed (for those of you not engaged in gig economy arrangements) is the proposal that an employment statement (often the contract) must be provided on day one of the job. The report also says this requirement should be extended to all workers/dependent contractors, so there will be a need for day one paperwork for all workers you engage. That paperwork may have to include more details about worker/employee rights.

The report concludes that we should retain the current three tier approach to employment status: employee; worker; and self employed. It suggests that workers should be renamed dependent contractors. It has recommended that as far as workers are concerned, there should no longer be a need for them to show that they are required to perform the task personally in order to be afforded rights that come with that status (e.g. holiday pay, national minimum wage etc.). This recognises issues that have come up in recent Court/Tribunal decisions on worker status where complex contracts had been drawn up which the Courts have held have not reflected the reality of the working relationship. The recommendation is that there should be new law which clearly defines what each of these mean and when they apply, with control being the most significant factor in identifying who is an independent consultant.

Some of the other key proposals are:

  • A claimant to an Employment Tribunal would not need to pay a fee prior to a determination on employment status. The process for hearings to determine a claimant’s employment/worker status should be streamlined. The burden of proof would be on the organisation to prove the individual is not protected by relevant employment/worker rights, not the other way around. There would also be an obligation on Tribunals to award aggravated penalties, costs orders, and even potentially uplifted compensation, against employers who argue about employment-status when they have lost an Employment Tribunal case before on comparable facts;
  • Continuity of employment is important for many rights including unfair dismissal. The report recommends making continuity easier to establish by expanding the ways in which gaps between assignments can be bridged and automatically bridging any gaps which are less than a month (rather than the current week). So employees who work for you irregularly would gain many rights which do not currently accrue for them because of the breaks between engagements;
  • A right to request a contract which guarantees hours of work after being on a zero hours contract for 12 months. There would also be an obligation on organisations to publically report on these requests and the number agreed to;
  • The current right to request flexible working should be made more flexible, so as to include temporary changes;
  • New guidance in one place on pregnancy and maternity rights and the Government should consider further options for legislative intervention to prevent pregnancy and maternity discrimination;
  • SSP to be a day one right irrespective of earnings and extended to all workers;
  • A period of employment protection for those absent due to ill health, akin to maternity leave protection with a right to return to the same job;
  • Where a worker has only limited guaranteed hours but is also asked to work extra hours, those extra hours should have a premium rate above the national living wage/national minimum wage to be set by the Low Pay Commission. This would incentivise employers to guarantee longer hours for low paid workers, whilst leaving flexibility available but with slightly higher minimum rates of pay;
  • As many of you will know, holiday pay is notoriously difficult to calculate for those who work variable amounts of hours over the year. The report recommends extending the reference period for annual leave entitlement to 12 months rather than 12 weeks, as well as suggesting that workers should be entitled to rolled-up holiday pay with additional safeguards to ensure workers don’t work 52 weeks a year;
  • Unpaid internships should be stamped out. It suggests encouraging enforcement action from HMRC – if someone is obtaining something of value from an intern they should be paid the minimum/living wage. However it supports and encourages high-quality work experience;
  • There will a redefinition of dependent contractor status to provide minimum wage protection akin to piece work and rates, effectively giving gig economy workers the ability to choose whether or not to work at quiet times but requiring the engager to show that on average they pay well above the minimum wage;
  • A right for agency workers placed with the same end-user for 12 months to request a direct contract with them and an obligation on the end-user to consider it in a reasonable manner (with a similar public reporting obligation to that for zero hours contracts); … READ THE FULL ARTICLE