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14 March 2018
The government has published its Good Work Plan in response to Matthew Taylor's review of modern working practices. While the response sets out the government's intention to proceed with nearly all of the review's recommendations, it lacks specific proposals and much of the detail will be subject to further consultation.
Taylor's independent review of modern working practices, published in July 2017, recommended various reforms to the employment law framework. Since then, while the government's response was awaited, legal challenges to employment status (for further details please see "Uber's worker status appeal rejected") and media reporting on working arrangements have continued. In November 2017 two select committees published a joint report and draft bill on employment status (for further details please see "Employment status review announced in response to Taylor report").
Although the government's response states that it has acted on "all but one" of Taylor's 53 recommendations, the four related consultation documents published alongside the response largely focus on seeking views on the detail and impact of potential changes, rather than committing to any specific changes to the law. In many cases, the government asks for further evidence on how the rules are working.
The government's commitments to take action, on which consultation is invited, include:
Acknowledging that employment status in particular is a complex area, the government has put forward no firm proposals. The consultation document clarifies that "no decisions about whether or how to reform employment status, or to aim for alignment between the tests for tax and rights, have been made yet". However, it also clarifies that the government has no intention of revisiting the arguments for reducing the difference in the rate of national insurance contributions paid in respect of employees and self-employed individuals, stating that "we are clear we have no plans to revisit this issue".
The government will also "take into account any significant changes in the case law precedents as work in this area progresses". With a number of appeals concerning employment status in the pipeline, this may influence the government's direction on the issue.
Notwithstanding the government's assurances that the consultations are about how, rather than whether, to implement Taylor's recommendations, many areas remain unresolved. Despite government calls for "quick progress", it is likely to be some time before any specific proposals for reform materialise following the consultation process, let alone become law. The four consultations close on various dates between May 9 2018 and June 1 2018; therefore, the chances of any significant proposals for legislative change appearing before autumn (at the earliest) seem slim.
Taylor's recommendations could be the catalyst for a significant shake-up of employment law to meet the challenges of the changing world of work. However, it remains to be seen how bold the prime minister will be in the context of competing priorities in the run-up to Brexit.
The four consultation documents refer to:
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