The highly anticipated, much discussed, Taylor Review has been published this morning.
Facts and background
Matthew Taylor was commissioned by the Government in November last year to lead a wide review into how employment practices must change in order to keep pace with modern business models. This is most notable in the context of the exploding "gig" economy and the subsequent recent judgments in a number of high-profile employee / worker status cases, for example the Uber case (see our alert on this case here). However, it also looks at wider issues such as proper taxation and pension provision for individuals who work flexibly.
What the report says
Taylor states that the current legal framework regarding whether an individual is an employee, a worker is genuinely self employed, "works reasonably well" but that it needs to adapt and provide "greater clarity for individuals and employers". He also states that there needs to be a particular focus between worker status and self employed status as it is here "where there is a greater risk of vulnerability and exploitation".
He suggests maintaining the term "worker" but renaming it "Dependent Contractor", this being the group of people who, in his view, suffer from one sided unfair flexibility.
We are currently working our way through the 116 page report and will provide you with further analysis in the coming days.
What does this mean for employers?
This has been one of the most important and long awaited investigations into the UK employment market in recent years.
The report's recommendation for "clarity" over the dividing line between employees, workers and self-employed status is a very positive ambition, but is also something that the law has traditionally struggled with for decades. It is notoriously challenging to draft a simple legal test to cover every permutation.
Furthermore, the concept of 'worker' is derived largely from EU law and the precise definition can vary in different regulations. There may be little the Government can do to simplify this concept - certainly until the position with Brexit is clearer.
One aspect of the proposals which may be easier to adopt and introduce, is to allow individuals to bring a claim questioning their employment status without having to pay the normal Tribunal fee and to place the burden of proof on the alleged employer to show that the individual is not an employee or a worker.
Some commentators are suggesting that the recommendations are radical or revolutionary - however after the dust has settled, its actual long term impact may be fairly modest.