Taylor Review proposals could struggle to make it into statute book

Beverley Sunderland, managing director at”Crossland Employment Solicitors

“It recommends there should be a free initial assessment of employment status in the employment tribunal to try and cut down on costs and time wasted and that harsher penalties be inflicted onemployers who deny staff the proper status. This is a positive recommendation that reflects the practical reality of hundreds of workers in the gig economy who are integrated into businesses.

“It is an overall significant step in the right direction, addressing the fast-changing landscape of the modern labour market, while trying to find a balance between business and workers” needs. However, creating a third type of employment category is likely to mean further litigation over who qualifies as a dependent contractor and what the difference is between that and a worker.

?Employers should now review their working arrangements with the self-employed against the new proposed definition for dependent workers to see if they fall within this new category of employment status. As and when legislation is passed to enact these changes, employers should issue new contracts to reflect this.

Kate Smith, head of pensions at Aegon

“The world of work is changing at a rapid pace and the law needs to be refreshed to ensure that workers are treated fairly. A new balance must be struck to enable flexible working but not at the cost of the workplace protections and benefits most people view as essential.

“In the UK, pension provision is largely delivered through the workplace, via auto-enrolment, so the self-employed, including gig-economy workers are excluded. Giving contactors the rights to workplace benefits such as holiday pay and sick leave is a welcome move, but without the right to a workplace pension, which could turn out be the most valuable benefit of them all, is short-sighted.

“It’s possible there’s a perception that gig-economy workers are all in their 20s and have more pressing concerns than saving for a pension. However, as this form of flexible working becomes more accepted, it’s vital that a means of ensuring pension provision is not overlooked.

“A right to a valuable employer pension contribution should be carved in stone for those who want to start saving and this has the power to kick start savings habits.

Kerstie Skeaping, employment partner and head of the commercial employment in Liverpool at Hill Dickinson

Be under no illusions, employers operating in the gig-economy will view the Taylor Review as an attack against their work and reward structures. What is widely seen as false self-employment by outsiders and the Government, is viewed by many in the gig-economy as the future way of working.

“The driving force for change appears to be increasing tax revenues. Firms will be liable to pay employer’s NI contributions in respect of their newly classified ?dependant contractors?, which in reality will be most people working in the gig-economy.

“The genuinely self-employed will undoubtedly be surprised by the shock recommendation that their work should in future be paid for via a digital platform, which will facilitate the automatic deduction of tax and NI contributions. It seems that paying your handyman, cleaner or gardener cash in hand will soon become a thing of the past.

Will Winch, lawyer at Mishcon de Reya Lawyer?

“Many individuals enter the gig economy willingly as a result of the flexibility it offers. A large proportion of the gig economy is made up of those in the creative industry, as well as project managers and administrative staff. They are often well paid. Others, though, struggle to earn the minimum wage through the work they do.

This is a nuanced area, and it would be difficult to make any sweeping changes that would benefit everyone: even if steps are taken to protect the most vulnerable, this may have a knock on effect on those who could lose the flexibility that they value so highly.

“The difference between ‘dependent contractors’ and the existing worker status is that the person supplying the labour may be entitled to offer someone else to do the work for them this would have disqualified them from worker protection under the old rules. The Report calls on employers to provide workers with a statement on the first day of their employment which sets out their status and rights (extending the current requirement which only applies to employees).

“The extent to which the recommendations in the report will be implemented into statute remains to be seen. Before the election, it was likely to have formed the basis of legislation for years to come. However, given the reaction from Labour and the unions, it may only become a ‘best practice’ guide for employers in the gig economy.”

 

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