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The issue ‘worker status’ gathers pace and continues to evolve

The Taylor report published last year, following wide spread research and consultation, sought to explore the world of work in the modern age and how employment law dovetails with this. Whilst the report gave a balanced view of how we can best improve workers rights whilst not adversely affecting entrepreneurship which is so important to the British economy, it did put forward a number of proposals to the government, on ways in which the law can be clarified and improved to help all those who are part of what has become known as the ‘Gig economy’.

Having considered the Taylor Review’s recommendations, the government have now created ‘the Good Work Plan’, which includes a variety of measures that are to be introduced into law, to improve the rights of those employees who do not have stable employment contracts. This, in addition to the introduction of tighter rules around the tax position for self-employed workers coming into force in 2020, will mean we will see more changes to working practices in order to minimise the risks of employment and tax risks for businesses.

With this backdrop, we have seen the first company to create a new status for their workforce, with Hermes introducing ‘self-employment plus status’ in conjunction with their Union. This provides a choice for drivers, giving them greater rights and benefits, akin to ‘workers’ such as holiday pay, sick pay and national minimum wage pay, subject to contractors signing up to the scheme, which will see them agreeing to follow Hermes own pre-prescribed delivery routes.

There is no question that whilst this move will not trigger any legislative change, it could help form the basis of a more standardised approach to how Gig Economy arrangements are structured.

An additional benefit is the opportunity this may bring in terms of freeing up the time of the courts and tribunals. Recent years have seen high-profile Gig Economy cases take up huge amounts of time and resource, both from the judiciary and internal management teams.

Reducing the number of these cases will only be a positive step, indicative of a healthier worker-employer relationship and freeing up time for the courts to dedicate to more pressing issues.

Definitely watch this space.

By Jodi CoolingOperations Director and HR Consultant



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