The overriding ambition of the Taylor Review is to make the case for all work being ‘good work’ and for this to become a new national priority. In a nutshell, ‘good work’ means that all work in the UK should be fair and decent with realistic scope for development and fulfilment. To help achieve a good work economy, the review makes recommendations for specific measures to be enacted as soon as possible, as well as longer-term strategic shifts.
The proposals are far-reaching and will affect all employers across all sectors to some degree. The reforms that have grabbed the headlines are those affecting employment status and atypical working, things like the new status of dependent contractor, ensuring flexible contracts do not unreasonably favour the employer, and increased benefits for these workers including sick and holiday pay. Businesses impacted will be those operating within sectors that typically engage large numbers of independent contractors such as the IT and construction sectors, agency workers such as the social care and hospitality sectors, and casual or zero-hours workers such as the retail and agricultural sectors. They would also have a major impact on businesses operating with the gig economy.
Alongside these, there are many less newsworthy recommendations that will be of great interest to employers such as the reforms affecting day-to-day HR matters such as sickness absence, flexible working, pregnancy and maternity, internships, and employee consultation.
The proposals are clearly ambitious, and of course, the question remains whether the government has the capacity to introduce this suite of reforms, given the necessary focus on Brexit-related legislation. Indeed, many of the Conservative Party’s manifesto commitments on employment law were left out of the Queen’s Speech and a subsequent newspaper report, published by The Sunday Telegraph on 9 July, has suggested that some of these commitments have now been dropped altogether. In her leadership relaunch speech on 11 July, prime minister Theresa May said the government would study the review, but she did not commit to introducing legislative measures. Instead, she stressed the importance of enforcing existing legislation and co-operation by business.
Amanda Steadman is professional support lawyer, employment team at Addleshaw Goddard