Matthew Taylor, author of the much-anticipated independent review of Britain’s gig economy, has rated the government’s response to his report a mere four out ten, a colleague who participated in the process has revealed.
Taylor and his panel received evidence from a comprehensive range of stakeholders involved in the gig economy and in professional contracting last year. Contributors arguing for fairer treatment and tax reforms for skilled contracting professionals included Umbrella Company trade associations PRISM and the Freelancer and Contractor Services Association (FCSA), the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) and the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).
Yet as employment law specialist Diane Nicol, one of the four members who sat on the Taylor Review, explains, Taylor himself is currently underwhelmed by the government’s response to proposals contained in his “Good Work” report because he believes the series of protracted consultations it has decided to embark on may result in some of his recommended changes losing momentum, getting watered down, or worst of all, being “kicked into the long grass.”
The review was forthright in recognising the need for flexible labour, which had helped the UK climb out of recession and sustain record employment levels. Acknowledging the distinctions between high-end well-remunerated contracting professionals and more vulnerable, low-skilled freelancers, the review recommended achieving greater clarity on the distinctions between worker, employee and self-employed/independent contractor status.
To protect the more vulnerable workers in the gig economy, who are more exposed to being exploited by unscrupulous employers, the Taylor Review recommended, among other measures, greater use of employment tribunals to stamp our rogue practices.
The review, however, was keen to preserve the freedom of skilled contractors to continue working flexibly and independently. During a discussion on BBC Radio 4’s Money Box Live on 12 July last year, Taylor assured ContractorCalculator CEO and founder Dave Chaplin that he saw no need to increase the burden on professionally self-employed people.
The government has in principle accepted most of the Taylor Review’s recommendations but, according to Nicol, a significant number of them are being subjected to further extensive consultation, closing in May-June this year. This will inevitably delay any implementation until 2019 and many may have been modified.
“The work of the Taylor Review has been concluded and many key recommendations can easily be brought in to play without the need for legislation. It is now for us all to fully engage with, and influence the ongoing consultations, to ensure that the changes made to Employment Law and modern employment practices in this country can, and do, support the changing world of work and impact positively on the UK economy.”