The government’s response to the Taylor Review of modern working practices has been welcomed by umbrella, contractor accountancy and self-employment provider ADVANCE.
Published today (7 February 2018), the Good Work plan sets out a series of reforms designed to boost the rights and protections of workers, particularly those who work flexibly – for example in the so-called gig economy.
Good Work plan and the Taylor Review
Key proposals affecting contract and temporary workers who find work through recruitment agencies include:
- Providing all 1.2 million agency workers with a clear breakdown of who pays them and any costs or charges deducted from their wages;
- Implementing a list of “day-one rights” including holiday and sick pay entitlements and a new right to a payslip for all workers, including casual and zero-hour workers; and
- Considering repealing laws allowing agencies to employ workers on “cheaper rates”.
The Government also announced that it is launching a detailed consultation examining options, including new legislation, to clarify the thorny area of employment status. The aim is:
To make it easier for both workers and businesses to understand whether someone is an employee, worker or self-employed – determining which rights and tax obligations apply to them.
Prime Minister Theresa May said:
We recognise the world of work is changing and we have to make sure we have the right structures in place to reflect those changes, enhancing the UK’s position as one of the best places in the world to do business.
The ADVANCE view
Shaun Critchley, managing director at ADVANCE and a qualified solicitor specialising in employment and tax law, said:
We welcome the government’s proposals, which will help to combat unfair practices in the murkier parts of the gig economy and help to raise standards across the flexible workforce more generally.
While the government clearly has the gig economy in its sights with most of these proposals, there are some salient points for the more traditional contractor-agency-provider supply chain.
As a lawyer, I’m particularly interested to see what the government does on employment status.
For example, will Matthew Taylor’s suggestion of a new ‘dependent contractor’ category to replace the current ‘worker’ status be taken forward?
The area of employment status is notoriously complex, so the government will really need to get the detail right if and when it comes to legislate on this.
Greater clarity on employment status can only be a good thing, so hopefully the government will succeed in delivering this.
As for the proposals regarding greater transparency on pay and rights, I’d argue that they amount to a tacit endorsement of the umbrella employment model.
Contractors employed by ethical, compliant umbrella providers like ourselves already benefit from holiday pay and sick pay, along with detailed and transparent pay breakdowns.
There is, however, undeniably more work to do when it comes to raising standards in our sector. As a fully-accredited member of the Freelancer & Contractor Services Association (FCSA) we will be at the heart of these efforts.
We look forward to seeing more detail on the government’s proposals.
Taylor Review recap
Published last year, the independent Taylor Review investigated the impact modern working practices are having on the world of work.
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.
It recognised that current tax and employment law can fail to provide the clarity that employers and individuals need.