In its Autumn 2017 Budget, the government indicated for the first time how it intends to respond to the recommendations made by Matthew Taylor in his review of modern working practices.
Previously, the government had been relatively quiet about how it would take those recommendations forward. However, in the budget,(1) it committed to publishing an employment status discussion paper as part of its response to the review. This stops short of a consultation on concrete reform proposals, but the paper will explore "the case and options for longer-term reform to make the employment status test for both employment rights and tax clearer".
The issue of employment status has remained a significant area of focus since the publication of Taylor's Good Work Review(2) in July 2017, which called on the government to clarify the relevant legislation and made various recommendations in order to help achieve this (for further details please see "The future of employment law: Taylor-ed to fit?"). Since then, legal challenges have continued – most recently with the Employment Appeal Tribunal deciding that drivers engaged by Uber were workers (for further details please see "Uber's worker status appeal rejected"), while the Central Arbitration Committee ruled that Deliveroo riders were genuinely self-employed on the basis that they could use a substitute to perform their deliveries.
Meanwhile, shortly before the budget was delivered, the Work and Pensions and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committees published a joint report(3) and draft bill(4) designed to provide clarity on employment status. The report recommends that legislation reflect the case law in this area, emphasising the importance of control and supervision rather than the right of substitution when distinguishing between workers and the genuinely self-employed. Among other recommendations, a new model of 'worker status by default' is suggested for companies with a substantial dependent workforce that is treated as self-employed.
The continued activity in this area in recent months may well have prompted the government to take this first step. Once the discussion paper is published, the government intends to work with stakeholders in order to ensure that any potential changes are considered carefully. It remains to be seen how transformative the end result will be.
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For further information on this topic please contact Madeleine Jephcott at Lewis Silkin by telephone (+44 20 7074 8000?) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). The Lewis Silkin website can be accessed at www.lewissilkin.com.