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Why Taylor's vital report must not go to waste

Why Taylor's vital report must not go to waste


Lindsey Knowles considers the key recommendations of the Taylor Review

After months of waiting, the Taylor Review – the independent report into how employment practices should be aligned with modern business models – has finally been published.

Carried out by Royal Society of Arts chief executive Matthew Taylor, the work makes for interesting reading on how to tackle the disparities between companies’ requirements in the modern age and the employment laws designed to protect the workers that serve them.

It has long been realised by employment law solicitors that the growing trend of “gig economy” working is not properly catered for under employment law. The wider public, too, became aware of the issue last year when a group of Uber drivers successfully brought legal action against the private hire firm to establish rights to a minimum wage, holiday pay, and breaks.

Yet despite a general acknowledgement that our current employment laws struggle to cater for the gig economy model, there remain numerous legal loopholes which allow for the exploitation of the growing number of people who are choosing to work in this way.

It made sense, then, that one of Taylor’s key recommendations was to allow a person’s employment status to be determined before tribunal fees needed to be paid, removing the risk that the claimant might have to pay up to £1,200 just to have the claim issued and heard. This recommendation has been overtaken by the Supreme Court’s ruling on 26 July 2017 that such tribunal fees are unlawful.

There were some other good points made in the report: weightier fines for those companies which don’t reform bad employment practices; awarding more money to employees bringing a claim against a firm which has already lost a similar claim; and a statutory requirement for employees and dependent contractors to be given a statement of detailed employment particulars on their first day on the job. These much-needed suggestions should be welcomed.

The question is whether these key recommendations will actually ever achieve their full potential. At a time when the government is preoccupied with the task of leaving the EU, and is weakened through the loss of seats in the recent election, will these proposals ever make it to the statute book? After all, Theresa May has already acknowledged that her new position means that she can only act on the report with support from other political parties.

For now, all we’ve been left with is a pledge that the government will respond to the Taylor report ‘later in the year’ – which means that, in the meantime, gig economy workers remain just as vulnerable, and in some cases just as exploited, as they always have.

Lindsey Knowles is an employment law solicitor at Kirwans