Across-the-board disgruntlement with the Government’s employment rules may force Ministers to rewrite their disputed legislation when the Taylor Review reports in the summer, Umbrella Company trade association PRISM predicts.
PRISM believes that the high noon of disjointed policymaking has now been reached and has aggravated the competing interests of unions, workers, gig economy platforms, intermediaries such as recruitment agencies and Umbrella Companies and tax officials.
For years, stakeholders have been propelled in different directions by employment protections, benefits, workers’ rights, flexibility and lost tax revenues, with the result that Government policy resembles the proverbial dog’s dinner.
Soundings received from the PRISM-sponsored review by the Social Market Foundation have exposed significant and pervasive disagreements between stakeholders over the Government’s approach to employment policy.
In the light of such wall-to-wall dissatisfaction, PRISM believes that the Government will have little choice but to refashion the legal and tax framework for workers when Matthew Taylor’s team puts forward its recommendations. Failure to do so will likely lead to virtually complete disaffection among businesses and workers.
The pervasive discontent with Government policy was the common theme at a recent event hosted by the Involvement and Participation Association.
Commenting on the event, PRISM CEO Crawford Temple said that he was struck by the sheer number of calls for clarity, direction and transparency. One person after another, he said, had repeated the widespread desire to see joined-up policymaking resolve these issues conclusively. Not only was this the overwhelming theme of the event, Crawford said, but it has become an omnipresent wish at every event that he attends.
He believes that this issue will distinguish the Taylor Review from the many other reviews that have preceded it in numerous different fields of Government. Characteristically, when such smaller-scale inquiries are commissioned, “someone goes away, does some thinking and offers up some ideas.” But frequently, he noted, this is merely because the Government feels that it must “be seen to be doing something.” Changes typically are implemented slowly or not at all.
Matthew Taylor’s review is different, Crawford explained. “The tectonic plates of employment and tax law are moving apart like never before, and there is no force on Earth that is going to allow the current regime to preside over them effectively in two or three years’ time. Things are changing too quickly, and the Government are not going to be able to simply kick this can down the road anymore.”
Times are uncertain, Crawford added, but the likelihood is that, post-Taylor, workers will end up with a better fit than exists presently – “an attempt at fairness in which knock-on-effects of policy changes have been considered properly.”