Taylor Review on Modern Employment Practices due any day: here’s what we expect

22 June 2017

What could prove far reaching recommendations for Britain's Labour market are expected any day now.

Matthew Taylor, CEO of the Royal Society of Arts and former head of the Labour policy unit, has been leading a Government commissioned review of modern employment practices. Gig work - the like spawned by platforms such as Uber, TaskRabbit and Deliveroo - is a focus, but it's much wider than that.

Its scope includes whether regulations need to change to protect workers' rights, the underlying incentives that drive different labour practices, and whether there needs to be greater clarity and consistency in how workers are treated.

The outcome of the review - referenced in the Queen’s speech yesterday -  is likely to be taken very seriously by policy makers and could ultimately have a significant impact on working practices. It's fair to say organisations representing workers and employers will be watching closely.

There is a lot of change in the economy and the ways businesses need to organise themselves for the '4th industrial revolution'. Retaining flexibility in labour could be a key differentiator for the UK economy. However, it needs to be delivered in an environment that provides protection to workers. It will be interesting to see how Matthew Taylor suggests navigating this dichotomy.

So what are we likely to see?  From Matthew Taylor's blogs for the RSA and commentary over the last few months, quite a bit can be gleaned. Here are my pointers on key messages and proposals from what I've seen:

1) Flexibility is a good thing. The trend for self-employment (which predates the gig economy) suggests people value more flexibility. So it's unlikely we'll see recommendations that prevent particular types of work per se.  

2) At the same time we're likely to see proposals to increase the security and quality of work in all types of employment. The focus being "good work" (a current RSA campaign) full stop. For example, the Review is likely to say that where zero hours contracts are offered, employees should have the right to get guaranteed minimum hours if they wish.   

3) Ideas on how Government, alongside technological innovation, can support the self-employed, with proposals for a set of tools which could become the foundation for a universal on-line self employment service.

4) Moves to tax work more consistently, regardless of the type.  

5) And moves to increase clarity on employment status. We may see control tests introduced, whereby individuals would be deemed employees if the organisation directs or controls certain aspects of the work.  

These are just my assumptions based on what I've read from Matthew Taylor. There's bound to be a lot more detail in Review, and no doubt many other recommendations.

But if this is broadly the direction of travel, I'd say overall it will be greeted favourably. That said, as we saw in the last Budget, the issue of tax and employment status is likely to prove controversial as there will always be winners and losers. Watch this space.

 Julian Sansum

email: julian.a.sansum@pwc.com

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