Taylor welcomes proposals in draft gig economy Bill

Matthew Taylor with theresa May at the launch of his review in July 2017
Matt Dunham/PA Wire/PA Images

Matthew Taylor, author of the Taylor review of modern employment practices published this summer, has welcomed the draft Bill published by two parliamentary committees on Monday.

Speaking in response to the draft Bill released by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Work and Pensions committees earlier this week, he said he was “delighted” that the MPs had broadly supported the recommendations made in his report.

He pointed out, however, that they had not yet gone far enough to address piecework or true ‘on-demand’ working.

In the Taylor review, he had recommended that piece-rate legislation should be adapted to ensure that workers who are compensated based on output earn at least 20% more than the national minimum wage

This is not covered specifically in the draft Bill, although there is a proposal to pilot a pay premium on the national minimum or national living wage for those with non-contracted hours.

His review also made the point that if legislation demanded that platforms such as Deliveroo and Uber pay the minimum wage at all times, this could attract lots of workers logging on to apps when there was little or no work available and still expect the minimum wage. Clarification on this was also absent from the draft Bill, he said.

“I think [the committees] felt that if platforms do keep losing court cases, the danger is that it means an end to on-demand working.

“If you can’t control the labour supply then that means you get lots of people logging on to get the minimum wage, and those employers will move from on-demand work to shift work. I’ve talked to courier drivers and this is not what they want.”

In terms of the proposed “worker by default” status that would apply from day one of an individual’s engagement with a company, Taylor said there would need to be conditions for this to work effectively in practice.

He said: “If we can make it work then i think worker by default will be a good thing. But what about a window cleaner? Do we assume they’re a worker by default so they are entitled to five minutes of holiday pay? In the review we suggested that worker status definitions should apply to a quantum of workers in roughly the same role.”

Taylor also welcomed the fact that the draft Bill has hinted at greater alignment of worker status for tax and employment purposes.

He said: “We need to move to a consistent way of taxing labour; at the moment we tax forms of employment.

“We should not aim for absolute alignment but [status for employment and tax purposes] need to be closer. When it comes to substitution, for example, I don’t think that fundamentally changes the nature of someone’s relationship with the employer.”

The Government’s full response to the Taylor review is due out around the end of this year, and it is due to publish further detail on its Industrial Strategy next week, which may hint at future legislative changes.

David Williams Richardson, a partner in tax and employment consultancy RSM Employment Solutions, which hosted the discussion around the Taylor review, said there needed to be more debate on how we structure work from both a tax and employment law perspective.

“There is a feeling we need to level the playing field,” he said. “Contractors don’t want to work for the public sector because there’s one set of [taxation] rules for those organisations and one for the private sector. It’s good to see that the Budget promised a consultation on this.”

Taylor concluded that, moving forward, employers needed to create more legitimacy through transparency, for example offering a clear outline of employment rights and particulars from day one of someone’s employment.

“Legitimacy is critical – there will always be loads of crap jobs,” he said. “But any job can be designed to give someone fulfilment and the prospect of progression.

“In the US, Costco pays a third more than Walmart and they’re winning market share. Here in the UK, the master and servant view is still prevalent, it’s alive and well in British management.”

“If I can challenge these issues I will have achieved the most important part of what I set out to do.”

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