“Millions of workers to get new rights” announced the government when they released their long-awaited response to the Taylor review of modern working practices. Here, we take a look at what their response means for employers.

The Taylor Review

In 2017, the government tasked Matthew Taylor with reviewing modern business practices, such as online and mobile platforms, to assess whether current employment legislation remained applicable to these.

Taylor released his report in July containing a number of recommendations for the government to introduce “good work” for workers in this country. These recommendations included making employment status more certain, renaming ‘workers’ to become ‘dependent contractors’ and introducing a higher wage for zero hours workers.

The government response states they have accepted nearly all of Taylor’s recommendations, with a number of these being expanded upon.

New pay rights

As part of the government’s response, all workers will receive a right to a written itemised payslip setting out how they have been paid. Currently, only employees are entitled to a payslip but employers will have to provide workers with these from 6 April 2019.

From the same date, all payslips will have to state the total number of hours worked where the individual’s wage differs depending on how many hours are worked.
Alongside creating certainty about what workers are being paid for, these new rights will help enforcement bodies like HMRC analyse whether workers are being paid minimum wage correctly.

Other rights to be introduced

The government has announced workers will gain a right to receive a written statement of particulars of their engagement, currently something only ‘employees’ are entitled to after one months’ continuous employment.

There will also be a new right for workers to request a more stable contract ‘where appropriate’. This ‘right to request’ will apply to all workers, not just zero hours or agency staff, to give greater certainty about working hours and income.

There is no set timeline for these rights to be introduced; the government is currently consulting on how these new rights will work in practice.

Consultation on employment status

The main area of difficulty for most employers is that of employment status – whether an individual should be classed as an ‘employee’, a ‘worker’ or ‘self-employed’. The Taylor Review suggested there needed to be greater certainty in this area, for both individuals and employers, to ensure individuals are being granted their correct employment rights.

Rather than introducing any changes in this area, the government announced they would release a consultation. The consultation asks interested parties for their views on how clarity and certainty can be introduced look at, for example, whether new legislation is needed, if the status tests remain applicable and whether the status of ‘worker’ itself needs reviewing.

The consultation will remain open until June and, once completed, the government will assess the impact of changes on businesses. This means any developments to this tricky area are likely to be many months in the future.

Other matters:

  • The Low Pay Commission (the independent body tasked with reviewing minimum wage rates) will review the impact of introducing a higher minimum wage rate for non-guaranteed working hours;
  • A ‘naming and shaming’ scheme will be introduced for employers who fail to pay tribunal awards within a reasonable time;
  • The law on the use of interns, and the payment for these, will be reviewed and improved;
  • Awareness campaigns will be released on shared parental leave, holiday pay and pregnancy and maternity rights.