In recent years changes in the UK labour market have created flexibility for both workers and business, the most well-known example being the rise of “gig economy” workers, so called as a result of new technology which enables businesses to break down tasks into small parcels of work which workers can perform under individual contracts or “gigs”.
Last year the Government appointed Matthew Taylor, a former political strategist and aide to Tony Blair, to carry out a review into the impact of these modern day working practices on business. On Wednesday 7th February the Government released its proposals following the publication of Mr Taylor’s “Good Work Report”.
Whilst there was widespread publicity about the proposals, the general consensus is that they don’t really introduce any significant changes in employment law. According to the Government amongst other things, it will look to introduce a right to request a more stable contract for all workers which is rather vague, it will help workers enforce sick and holiday rights, introduce an online tool to determine employment status and aim to introduce a naming and shaming scheme for employers who don’t pay tribunal awards. It plans to ensure new and expectant mothers know their rights and will ask the Low Pay Commission to introduce a higher rate of the National Minimum Wage for workers on zero hours contracts. All in all, not really ground breaking stuff.
The Government also believes however that many of Mr Taylor’s proposals require further consultation and as a result of this, it announced on the same day that there are to be 4 separate consultations seeking views on protecting agency workers, employment status, increasing transparency in the UK labour market and the enforcement of the rights being recommended in the Taylor report.
A more accurate assessment of the proposals is that they are a cautious move towards improving the limited rights workers currently have but which won’t really make the difference hoped by many workers and therefore won’t be of major concern to most employers at this stage. As Matthew Taylor said in response to the Government’s announcement “I welcome the direction indicated today but there is more work to be done to encourage the Government to be bold in living up to its commitment to good work for all."
Gig economy workers to get improved employment rights