The Taylor report published on 11 July 2017 has made a significant number of recommendations in relation to proposed changes to employment law to ensure that it meets the needs of a modern labour market. The passage of any new proposed legislation is not likely to be an easy process given the Tory party’s lack of a majority in the House of Commons. However, it may be that any enhancement of employment rights will strike a chord with the Labour opposition and smooth the way.
Anything that clarifies the rights and obligations in relation to that nebulous category of ‘worker’ is likely to be a good thing and we would expect to see some progress in this area. Renaming a ‘worker’ as a ‘dependant contractor’ would seem to be an easy win but may require some careful redrafting of employment law legislation.
We suspect that the proposal to give ‘dependant contractors’ the right to receive rolled-up holiday pay may be problematic. The law relating to minimum holiday rights stipulates a specific entitlement to take paid time off from work. Furthermore, taking a different approach to dependant contractors and employees in this respect could well result in confusion and litigation.
The proposal that national insurance contributions for employees and the self-employed should be moved closer to parity is likely to be contentious. While the current differential could encourage tax avoidance and thus reduce revenue for the Exchequer, costs for businesses are likely to increase. In the current political climate getting this through parliament may be difficult and unpopular.
Creating an entitlement for all workers to receive statutory sick pay from day one regardless of their level of income may also prove to be controversial as costs to employers will increase further. However, if the Government is serious about addressing the issues with atypical workers this would be a step in the right direction notwithstanding any difficulties in calculation and administration.
The proposed right to return to the same or similar job after a period of long-term sickness would also appear to be an easy win given the over-riding obligations in relation to disability discrimination in any event. No doubt there would have to be sufficient caveats to balance the rights of the employer and employee and accord with practical realities.
The suggestion that the process to enforce unpaid employment tribunal awards should be made easier makes perfect sense and it has been a long time coming. We suspect that a relatively cost neutral solution may be an attractive one for the Government.
It remains to be seen how far the current government is prepared to go given its tenuous position and the stormy weather ahead as Brexit approaches. There is no doubt that a need exists to address issues with the labour market, the question will be how strong is the Government’s resolve.