The Taylor review was an independent review of modern working practices giving consideration to different forms of work and the impact on workers rights in addition to the challenges facing the labour market. The government has now published its response to that review which we have detailed in this post to outline the key points of interest to employers.
The government has commenced consultation in four key areas which were highlighted within the Taylor review under the 7 principles for “good quality work for all” these areas are as follows:
Whilst there is already an established system for determining an individual’s employment status, the Taylor review proposed that greater clarity is needed in this area which the government is in agreement with. The consultation will therefore seek to establish how this clarity can be achieved. The government has recognised that a clearer test needs to be established for individuals and businesses to ascertain their employment status rather than using current case law tests. One proposal is a simple statutory online test to check the status of an individual.
Enforcement of employment rights
The government has accepted that action needs to be taken against employers who fail to abide by the decisions of employment tribunals. The consultation will consider how best to deal with employers in these circumstances but are taking action in introducing a naming and shaming system for employers who fail to pay awards in a reasonable time frame.
The government is carrying out consultation to establish how pay transparency can be improved for agency workers, including rates of pay and who is ultimately responsible for paying the individual. They are also consulting on whether the remit of the Employment Agency Standards (EAS) should be extended to cover policing umbrella companies and other intermediaries in the supply chain and to comply with the Agency Workers Regulations 2010.
Measures to increase transparency in the UK labour market
The government is taking steps to extend the rights of workers and to make these rights more visible to individuals. The government is therefore consulting on the following points in order to establish this transparency:
- The right to a written statement of particulars to be extended to all workers
- The right to an itemised pay statement to be extended to all workers
- More transparency for agency workers regarding financial information as outlined above
- The right to request a more “predictable” contract for all workers
- Increase the pay reference period under the Working Time Regulations from 12 to 52 weeks to take account of seasonal variations in working hours
- Introduce a name and shame system for employers failing to pay tribunal awards as outlined above.
- The introduction of an online tool to determine worker status as outlined above
The government also intends to make it simpler for “intermittent” workers to accrue continuous service and, in conjunction with the Low Pay Commission, explore the impact of the possible introduction of a higher national minimum wage rate for individuals with non-guaranteed working hours or “zero hours” employees. In addition, they are taking action to raise the maximum payment a tribunal can award for an aggravated breach of employment law to £20,000 and improving the clarity on what constitutes an aggravated breach within the legislation.
Whilst the government are taking a number of steps, an area of the Taylor review that they have not accepted is the proposal to shift the burden of proof to the employer when an individual’s employment status is in dispute. The burden will therefore remain with the claimant for the foreseeable future.
The consultations are yet to be concluded and therefore no changes have been confirmed or timescales specified. Whilst some may argue the government is taking steps to consult on a number of Taylor’s recommendations, it is likely that many workers and unions will argue that this isn’t enough and that more can be done to protect the rights of vulnerable workers.