Proposals for reforming employment law to strengthen the rights of people working in the so-called gig economy have been delayed, it emerged today.
The government had been expected to respond to recommendations set out in political strategist Matthew Taylor’s review of modern employment practices by the end of the year.
However, reports this morning suggest the proposals have been pushed back in view of other government priorities, notably Brexit. That view was shared by speakers at the Westminster Employment Forum in central London today some of who criticised Taylor’s recommendations.
The review, published earlier this year, called for a new status for ‘gig economy’ workers. Taylor, chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, said the new ’dependent contractor’ status would help distinguish workers from those who are ’legitimately self-employed’.
Hannah Reed, a senior employment rights officer at the TUC, said the new status would still not give the ‘dependent contractor’ the same status enjoyed by employees. She said the new status would at best ‘muddy the waters’ of employment law and what rights workers have.
The review sets out seven principles for ‘fair and decent’ work, including sectoral strategies engaging employers, employees and stakeholders to ensure that people are not stuck at the living wage minimum or facing insecurity.
Reed also said Taylor’s proposed ‘piece rate’ method – under which people working on gig economy platforms would receive at least the minimum wage - would not work. ’We are asking the government not to delay their response. Theresa May said early on in her term that she wanted to protect workers,’ Reed said.
Rebecca Seeley Harris, senior policy adviser Re: Legal Consulting, added that the concept of ‘gig economy’ was not a new phenomenon. She noted that there would be interesting cases to watch in the coming months, with Uber being told it must pursue its appeal against the Employment Appeal Tribunal’s workers’ rights decision through the Court of Appeal rather than directly to the Supreme Court. The Pimlico Plumbers will still be heard by the top court.
A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy would not confirm that implementation of the Taylor review had been delayed, adding: ‘It is quite right the government gives due attention to the recommendations.’
'The government has already committed to promoting the delivery of fair and decent work for all in its modern Industrial Strategy and we will be publishing our response to the review shortly.'