XpertHR’s consultant editor Darren Newman looks at the proposals in the Taylor review to clarify employment status, as well as proposals to redefine ‘worker’ status as ‘dependent contractor’.
The employment law proposals in the Taylor review – there are about 30 of them – have at their centre a new approach to the question of who qualifies for employment law protection.
The review rejects suggestions that employee and worker status be merged so that there is only one test of employment status.
It accepts a continuing distinction between “workers” who qualify for the national minimum wage and are protected by legislation such as the Equality Act and the Working Time Regulations, and the narrower group of “employees” who also qualify for unfair dismissal and redundancy rights, as well as maternity and shared parental leave.
Some confusion has been caused by the term “dependent contractor” referred to in the review. To be clear, the review does not recommend that this should be a new employment status with its own set of rights.
Rather, it proposes that this should be the new name for those “workers” who are not also “employees”. We can argue about whether this is a good or bad idea.
I personally think it is not worth the effort involved in redrafting the legislation, but many people think that the term “worker” is too obscure and not well understood. Whatever your view, however, this is a proposal that – in itself – would not change anything.
More important is the proposal that the definitions of “employee” and “worker” (I will keep using that term until it is officially dropped) should be set out more clearly in the legislation. The review is concerned that understanding an individual’s employment status involves not just familiarity with the statutory definition, but also an awareness of the case law that has built up over many years.