1st May 2020
In 2017, the Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Arts, Matthew Taylor, conducted an independent review of modern working practice, commissioned by the Prime Minister, which set out several recommendations to the UK government. This was called the Good Work: The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices.
The Taylor Review is an independent review of modern working practices which considers the implications of new forms of work on work rights and responsibilities, as well as on employer freedoms and obligations.
Why is Good Work Important?
In the review, Taylor talks of its ambition – all work in the UK economy should be fair and decent with realistic scope for development and fulfilment – and explains very clearly why good work matters:
- Fairness demands that all workers have routes and opportunities to progress in their careers and to boost their earning as well as be treated with respect and decency at work.
- The quality of a person’s work helps to keep them healthy and happy.
- Better work leads to better productivity.
- People should feel respected, trusted and enabled while knowing that they are expected to take responsibility.
- The pace of change in the modern economy means that a concerted approach is needed in order to be up to date and responsive and based on principles of fairness.
The Goal of Good Work
The Taylor Review’s aim of good work for all involves both short- and long-term strategic changes while building on the strengths of the existing labour market and framework of regulation.
The proposed changes have impacts for every day, ordinary people who might not be sure about their rights or who feel as though the system doesn’t accurately reflect or accommodate the reality of their working relationships. In addition, these changes will also impact on the state in terms of the fiscal impact of rising self-employment and incorporation.
Ultimately, the recommendations set out in the review are designed to see a significant shift in the quality of work in the UK economy, benefitting the many, not the few.
What are the Recommendations?
While the ethos of the Taylor Review is very simple, the ground these ideals cover is extremely broad, taking many facets and outlooks into consideration. Nevertheless, Taylor et al was able to focus on three key challenges:
- Tackling exploitation and the potential for exploitation at work.
- Increasing clarity in the law and helping people know and exercise their rights.
- Over the longer term, aligning the incentives driving the nature of our labour market with our modern industrial strategy and broader national objectives.
The review sets out a seven-step plan which can be found at various points within the review document. The purpose of which was to spark a conversation amongst the policy community.
What are the Seven Steps?
In the review, seven steps were detailed which show how we can move towards fair and decent work with realistic scope for development and fulfilment. These are as follows:
- Our national strategy for work – the British way – should be explicitly directed toward the goal of good work for all, recognising that good work and plentiful work can and should go together. Good work is something for which the Government needs to be held accountable but for which we all need to take responsibility.
- Platform-based working offers welcome opportunities for genuine two-way flexibility and can provide opportunities for those who may not be able to work in more conventional ways. These should be protected while ensuring fairness for those who work through these platforms and those who compete with them. Worker (or ‘Dependent Contractor’ as we suggest renaming it) status should be maintained but we should be clearer about how to distinguish workers from those who are legitimately self-employed.
- The law and the way it is promulgated and enforced should help firms make the right choices and individuals to know and exercise their rights. Although there are some things that can be done to improve working practices for employees, the ‘employment wedge’ (the additional, largely nonwage, costs associated with taking someone on as an employee) is already high and we should avoid increasing it further. ‘Dependent contractors’ are the group most likely to suffer from unfair onesided flexibility and therefore we need to provide additional protections for this group and stronger incentives for firms to treat them fairly.
- The best way to achieve better work is not national regulation but responsible corporate governance, good management and strong employment relations within the organisation, which is why it is important that companies are seen to take good work seriously and are open about their practices and that all workers are able to be engaged and heard.
- It is vital to individuals and the health of our economy that everyone feels they have realistically attainable ways to strengthen their future work prospects and that they can, from the beginning to the end of their working life, record and enhance the capabilities developed in formal and informal learning and in on the job and off the job activities.
- The shape and content of work and individual health and well-being are strongly related. For the benefit for firms, workers and the public interest we need to develop a more proactive approach to workplace health.
- The National Living Wage is a powerful tool to raise the financial baseline of low paid workers. It needs to be accompanied by sectoral strategies engaging employers, employees and stakeholders to ensure that people – particularly in low paid sectors – are not stuck at the living wage minimum or facing insecurity but can progress in their current and future work.
You can view the full Good Work: The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices here. In our next article, we will be looking at the Good Work Plan and how it addresses the recommendations set out in this review.
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