Matthew Taylor has published his review into workers’ rights and the gig economy. What does the Taylor Review into the gig economy say and what does it mean for workers?
Worker, employed or self employed?
At the moment, you can be self employed, a worker or someone who’s employed. The workplace status you have gives you different rights. I’ve written an article called Your rights if you’re employed, self employed or a worker, which explains these differences.
Recommendation 1: The Taylor Review into the gig economy says that three types of employment status should stay. However, ‘workers’ should be renamed ‘dependent contractors’.
Recommendation 2: In order to qualify for dependent contractor status, the emphasis should be on the amount of control the company you’re working for has over you and what you do, and less on whether or not it requires that you personally do the work.
Recommendation 3: The government should change legislation to ensure that people who work in the gig economy (Uber, Deliveroo and so on) can keep the flexibility many of them enjoy while earning the National Minimum Wage, which, as I write this, is £7.50 an hour. However, when demand for the service (deliveries, taxis etc) is low, the platform won’t have to pay someone who chooses to work then the National Living Wage.
SAVVY TIP: The report says that companies will have to do is to make sure that an average worker working ‘averagely hard’ earns 120% of the National Living Wage.
Recommendation 4: Dependent contractors should be taxed in essentially the same way as someone who’s employed. Not in the same way as someone who’s self employed.
Recommendation 5: Dependent contractors should get a written statement of employment in the same way that employees do (or should!). Employees and dependent contractors should receive this statement on the first day of their work. As well as information about pay and pensions, it should tell someone what their rights. It should be written in plain English. Employees and dependent contractors should be able to claim compensation if they don’t get this statement.
Recommendation 6: There should be an online tool that people can use to work out their employment status.
Recommendation 7: The Low Pay Commission should look at the effect of requiring employers to pay their workers a higher minimum wage or living wage for hours that aren’t guaranteed as part of their contract.
Recommendation 8: At the moment, you get certain employment rights if you’ve been working for the same employer without a break for 26 weeks or, for other rights, two years. If there’s a break of up to a week in your work, it can count as if it was uninterrupted. The report says that the government should look at extending this to one month.
Recommendation 9: Agency workers should be given better information about who’s paying them (the agency company or the company they’re actually working for) and what they’ll get paid.
Recommendation 10: The government should do more to increase awareness of holiday pay entitlement. It should also change the way holiday pay is calculated so people whose working hours fluctuate don’t lose out. People should be able to take extra pay instead of holiday, if they choose.
Recommendation 11: Agency workers who’ve been working for the same company for a year should be able to ask for a direct contract with them. The company should consider the request in a ‘reasonable manner’.
Recommendation 12: People on zero hours contracts should be able to ask for a contract that guarantee hours more in line with the hours they work. This would only be available to people on zero hours contracts for the last year.
SAVVY TIP: Companies above a certain size should be made to publish their working model, including how many requests they get for guaranteed hours from zero contract hours workers (and how many they agree to) and how many requests they get for a direct contract from their agency workers (and how many they agree to).
Recommendation 13: The government should look at ways of improving employee engagement in the workplace.
Recommendation 14: HM Revenue and Customs should enforce basic rights for the lowest paid workers, such as holiday pay and sick pay – as well as the minimum wage.
Recommendation 15: People should be able to find out what their employment status is at an initial hearing, without having to spend money on employment tribunal fees.
Recommendation 16: When someone takes a case to an employment tribunal to establish their status (employed, worker etc), the burden of proof should be switched so that employers have to show someone isn’t entitled to relevant benefits – not the other way round.
SAVVY TIP: Disappointingly, the review didn’t say anything else about the level of employment tribunal fees, which have risen sharply in the last few years and are over £1,000 for someone taking a discrimination or unfair dismissal case to hearing. All it said was that the government should keep the level of these fees under review. A cop out, in my book, especially as the report highlighted figures showing that the number of cases going to employment tribunal had fallen significantly since the fees were increased.
Recommendation 17: The government should make it easier for people to take action against companies that don’t pay compensation awards an employment tribunal has said they should pay. The government should also name and shame companies that don’t pay these within a reasonable period of time.
Recommendation 18: Employers that fight cases in an employment tribunal where they’ve already lost a similar case should have to pay a penalty and costs. Similarly, if a company loses at an employment tribunal, and then breaches the rules, they should have to pay additional compensation.
Recommendation 19: The review says that self-employed people should pay a similar rate of tax and National Insurance to people who are employed. The government should also make sure that self-employed people don’t lose out on benefits and entitlements; especially parental leave. You can read more about National Insurance and self employment in my article National Insurance if you’re self employed; what do you pay?
Recommendation 20: The government should develop help and advice for people starting out a career in self employment.
Recommendation 21: People who are self employed should be encouraged to save more for their retirement, especially through digital platforms.
Recommendation 22: People who are self employed should have access to online tools to help them to comply with making tax digital (which means people will have to keep digital records as well as provide quarterly tax statements).
Recommendation 23: The government should accredit payment platforms so that people who are self employed can be paid electronically. It is a way of reducing or getting rid of cash in hand work and should mean more self employed people pay the right tax. The review gives an example of scrap metal where cash payments for scrap metal were banned. It’s not clear whether the review wants the government to ban cash in hand work or encourage more people not to use it.
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