Matthew Taylor’s review into modern employment practices and the gig economy is set to call for a new ‘dependent contractor’ category of worker when published tomorrow.
According to BBC News, the review will say gig economy workers and those on flexible contracts should, through this new status, receive benefits such as sick pay and holiday leave. The status would also mean they are obliged to pay National Insurance contributions, avoided at the moment through gig workers being classified as ‘self-employed'.
However, speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said better enforcement of existing rights rather than a new status was needed.
“I think this recommendation is correct but risks letting these multi-million pound businesses off the hook,” she said. “We don’t need a new employment status. Unions have already won victories through the courts, proving that many of the workers that these business chiefs want to describe as self-employed are actually workers and should be paid the national minimum wage, holiday pay [and] not face discrimination.”
The review by RSA chief executive Matthew Taylor will outline a structure obliging firms to show that a person working for them can earn at least 1.2 times the present National Living Wage of £7.50 an hour for over-25s. Companies will do that by modelling the number of tasks – or 'gigs' – an average person working at an average rate can achieve. The review has apparently based this recommendation on how 'piece work' calculations – how much a crop picker can pick in an hour, for example – work in agriculture.
BBC News understands that the review will pass positive judgement on many aspects of gig firms and gig working overall, however. The review will state that its panel has been impressed by how such firms have transformed the economy; both for workers and in making new services and products available to consumers.
The review will apparently pass favourable comment on models where gig workers can log on at any time and see ‘real-time’ earnings potential, for example where a company can only offer enough work to earn £5 an hour because it is a quiet period. Then a gig worker can decide, in full possession of the facts, whether to accept that rate.
This would also protect firms from action taken by the gig worker against them not paying the minimum wage, the review will suggest.
The Taylor Review was also commissioned to look much more widely at the quality of work on offer in today’s economy. It will say that the quality of work and enhancing skills should be at the heart of the debate on employment in the UK.
Overuse of zero-hours contracts also has to be tackled, the report will say. But it will not back Labour's policy of banning zero-hours contracts, saying they are useful for some forms of work where demand fluctuates rapidly.
The review is also likely to recommend that the government boost the 'workers’ voice' inside companies and narrow the tax gap between the employed and self-employed.
However, speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme first secretary of state Damian Green, in response to being asked if the Conservative party would be revisiting its scrapped Spring Budget pledge to raise National Insurance for the self-employed, said Taylor “deliberately doesn’t make tax recommendations in his report”.