This week the government announced an overhaul of employment rights designed to improve conditions for millions of workers, including those in the gig economy.
This is in response to last year’s Taylor Review into working practices. The changes are intended to give workers the power to force companies to follow the law, while enabling businesses and workers to embrace new ways of working.
IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed, has welcomed the government’s response its commitment to addressing serious long-term issues including both the uncertainty about employment status and the need for improved support for the self-employed. The association is also pleased that the government decided not to take forward the recommendation to move towards greater parity between employee and self-employed National Insurance Contributions (NICs).
Chris Bryce, IPSE’s CEO, commented: “Overall, the government’s response to the Taylor Review is very positive for the self-employed. Its pledges to clarify the confusion over employment status, define ‘good work’ and generally improve support for the self-employed are particularly welcome. The key thing now though is that the government doesn’t kick these pledges and consultations into the long grass. We will be working closely with the government in the coming months to make sure that this does not happen and that any coming changes help and support the self-employed.”
Another industry body to respond favourably includes the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo). The government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) this week held a briefing, which was attended by APSCo, to introduce the separate consultations on Employment Status, Agency Workers, Enforcement and Increasing Transparency.
APSCo also gave evidence during the Taylor review and subsequently broadly supported the findings of the resulting paper.
Commenting on the most recent announcement, Tania Bowers, general counsel at APSCo said:
“We at APSCo welcome this announcement and are very supportive of the government’s desire for clarity – particularly on employment status and how this is aligned to tax status, workers’ rights and entitlements and the differentiation between employed, workers and self-employed. APSCo will, of course, be providing responses to these consultations in the interests of our members.
“The Employment Status consultation, in particular, which will be open for 16 weeks, is extremely broad, complex and ambitious. As we stressed when we gave evidence during the Taylor review, many of our members supply independent contractors – and it is vital that working in this way remains an attractive option for highly skilled consultants who drive much of the dynamism and flexibility in the economy.”
The Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC)’s chief executive Kevin Green also responded to the news.
He said: “We are very pleased to see that the government is working towards more consistency and transparency around the rights and status of people working in the gig economy. This is something that is much needed to level the playing field so gig workers get the same rights as agency workers receive, such as holiday and sick pay.
“We still need more clarity on some of the points raised, including the definition of zero-hour contracts and if agency workers are included. We also need to know when exactly people are eligible to request a contract and if additional paperwork around this will mean more bureaucracy and therefore a greater burden. In addition, the government’s reform plans should not apply only to Swedish Derogation, but instead should open up all parts of the Agency Workers Regulations for review.”