The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices has now been published. It offers insights into the changing nature of work in modern Britain and recommendations on how to make sure workers are getting a fair deal from their working conditions.
Key points highlighted by the review include the increasing role of platform-based companies such as Deliveroo and Uber, which heavily rely on self-employed contractors for their workforce. The review offers various suggestions geared towards creating “good work”, where workers will have fair wages, a reasonable work-life balance and real career prospects, amongst other considerations.
The review was lead by Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the Royal Society of the Arts and a former policy advisor to Tony Blair. It launched in November 2016 and included a tour of various UK regions, looking at different industry sectors to give a broad view of modern working practices.
Although the Taylor Review’s recommendations are purely advisory and will not automatically be adopted into UK law, they do offer an important insight into the issues facing modern British workers and their employers. In this article, we will break down the key recommendations of the Taylor Review and what they might mean for modern employers.
Recommendations from the Taylor Review
The Taylor Review makes a number of core suggestions about how working practices should be updated to take account of the realities of modern workplaces. Many of these are specifically aimed at people working in the so-called “gig economy”, which now accounts for over 1 million UK workers.
A national strategy to create “good work for all”
The review identifies various factors that are essential for “good work”. These include wages, working conditions, work-life balance, employment quality, education and training, employee participation and collective representation.
Reclassify some workers as “dependent contractors”
A new classification of “dependent contractor” should be introduced for people who work for platform-based businesses, like Uber and Deliveroo. This is intended to distinguish those who qualify for worker rights, but are not employees, from the truly self-employed.
Promote the National Living Wage
The review praises the National Living Wage as “a powerful tool to raise the financial base line of low paid workers”. However, it also suggests the need for strategies to ensure workers in low paid sectors are not stuck on the living wage and have opportunities to increase their earning potential over time.
Ensure opportunities for advancement
Employers should make sure workers have opportunities to improve their future job prospects while at work. This includes the chance to develop their skills through formal and informal learning and “on the job and off the job activities”.
Get proactive about workplace health
A more “proactive approach to workplace health” is advised. The review suggests this could benefit workers, businesses and the public interest. Recommended areas to focus on include the physical work environment and mental wellbeing.
Avoid increasing the cost of employment
The review stresses that implementing its recommendations should not increase the “employment wedge”, i.e. the costs of employing someone (above and beyond their wages).
Focus on good corporate governance
Providing “good work” should be achieved without national regulation by focusing on “responsible corporate governance”. This requires companies to take the concept of “good work” seriously, including being open about their practices and ensuring workers are engaged, heard and supported by their managers.
Is the Taylor Review bad for employers?
The core idea of the Taylor Review is to improve conditions for workers without increasing the financial burden on businesses. The upsides for employers could potentially include a happier, more engaged and healthier workforce that could help to boost productivity and staff retention, amongst other benefits.
However, many employers are likely to worry that whatever the intentions of the review, if its suggestions were implemented it could have a negative effect on their bottom line.
It is important to bear in mind the ideas contained in the review are merely recommendations and businesses are under no obligation to enact them. This means in the short-term the Taylor Review will likely have no immediate impact on most employers.
However, the review does highlight issues that can have a serious impact on workers, so it may be worth employers considering whether they and their workforce would benefit from introducing some of the recommendations. This could allow businesses to get ahead of the curve, ensuring they are offering the best possible working conditions for their workers and allowing them to attract the best possible talent.
For more information and advice on how the Taylor Review might impact your business, or general advice on any aspect of employment law, please get in touch on 01202 292 424.