We all know good and well that the way we work has changed over the years – with employers and employees alike being much more aware of their obligations and opportunities. Whilst in many cases these opportunities have been positive, for some they have been less so, so it’s no surprise that we have a new report looking at modern working practices. Published on 11th July 2017, the report was produced by former Tony Blair policy adviser and current CEO of the RSA, Matthew Taylor. The report was commissioned shortly after Theresa May became Prime Minister in 2016.
In the latest Small Business Taskforce meeting, which I attended on Thursday 27th July, the report was certainly a talking point. Generally, the consensus since launch is that the report findings could have been more controversial – however, Taylor was clear in light of the current political landscape he wanted the report findings and recommendations to be easily achievable without considerable legislation and to gain some government consensus. This wasn’t designed to be pie in the sky thinking, but to offer a genuine opportunity for realistic awareness and potential change.
What did I think? Well it is good to see that the report does accept that self-employment is a good thing and that for many it does provide them with the opportunity to operate a business that fits in with a lifestyle or trade that suits them. There were fears during the process of a general reluctance to support self-employment generally, so at least that hasn’t come to pass.
As we all know, self-employment – done in the right way and for the right reasons – does provide great opportunity; and we know from the number of clients our members are supporting that for the most part self-employment is undertaken correctly.
What the Taylor Review does try to do is set out a mechanism to remove some of the more exploitative elements of self-employment – and who wouldn’t support that? Whether a simple renaming of one element of employment is enough to do that or not remains to be seen. The review recommends a change to the current ‘worker’ status to be reclassified as ‘dependent contractor’. In itself that might go some way to solving some of the problems we’ve seen in this area, but as trade body for the self-employed IPSE has recently said, in itself this probably won’t be enough, you can read their response here.
Overall the Taylor Review makes some sensible recommendations and it will be interesting to see how the government respond when we hear from them in due course.
As always with these reports, there’s a lot of pages to read through, but it’s designed well and is easily scanable for those who want to take a look. You can download the report in full from the gov.uk website here. You can also see a video of the launch with a news piece from Taylor via the RSA website here.