UK government to take forward most Taylor Review recommendations in new package of workplace reforms

Greg Clark
Greg Clark

The UK government has announced a new package of workplace reforms it calls the “largest upgrade in workers’ rights in over a generation”.

The announcement takes forward 51 of the 53 recommendations made last summer by the Taylor Review, led by Matthew Taylor, CEO of the Royal Society of Arts and former political advisor to Tony Blair.

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) welcomed the proposed end to the Swedish derogation, which allows agency workers to be employed on cheaper rates than permanent counterparts.

However, it said it does not believe that “the other proposed employment reforms will make a meaningful difference for those in precarious work, and certainly not for gig workers”.

As well as ending the Swedish derogation, the legislation introduced today will:

  • Extend the right to a day one written statement of rights to workers, going further to include detail on rights such as eligibility for sick leave and pay and details of other types of paid leave, such as maternity and paternity leave;
  • Quadruple maximum Employment Tribunal fines for employers who are demonstrated to have shown malice, spite or gross oversight from £5,000 to £20,000;
  • Extend the holiday pay reference period from 12 to 52 weeks, ensuring those in seasonal or atypical roles get the paid time off they are entitled to; and
  • Lower the threshold required for a request to set up Information and Consultation arrangements from 10 per cent to two per cent.

The government is also committing to legislate to improve the clarity of the employment status tests to reflect the reality of the modern working relationships.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “With new opportunity also comes new challenges and that is why the government asked Matthew Taylor to carry out this first of a kind review, to ensure the UK continues to lead the world, through our modern Industrial Strategy, in supporting innovative businesses whilst ensuring workers have the rights they deserve.

“Today’s largest upgrade in workers’ rights in over a generation is a key part of building a labour market that continues to reward people for hard work, that celebrates good employers and is boosting productivity and earning potential across the UK.

“I would like to thank Matthew Taylor and Sir David Metcalf for their leadership. Today’s reforms build on our pledge to build an economy that works for everyone.”

Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary, said: “Unions have long campaigned to close the loophole which allowed employers to pay a lower hourly rate to agency workers than to permanent. We welcome the fact that government has finally moved on this issue.

“However we do not believe the other proposed employment reforms will make a meaningful difference for those in precarious work, and certainly not for gig workers. These proposals do virtually nothing to limit the use of zero hours contracts. Without tougher action, the day-to-day uncertainty which characterises the lives of so many workers will continue. We need simpler, clearer employment law and day one rights for all workers.”