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CLASS Response to the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices: An Opportunity Missed

Matthew Taylor has published his “Independent Review of Employment Practices in the Modern Economy”, which was commissioned by Prime Minister May last October. This review had the potential to redefine employment conditions for the C21st, where we have the return of forms of employment synonymous with the squalor of the great depression: casualised piecemeal work with no employment protections, and a society where the majority of those in poverty are in working families.

Unfortunately Taylor’s recommendations are weak and vague, making frustrating reading for those invested in trying to improve the quality of work. Many of his suggestions were for more reviews of the current situation, not recommendations for action. Where action was suggested, it was either half-hearted or took us in the wrong direction. Take zero-hours contracts: Taylor recommends that employees should have the right to request guaranteed hours, but they can already do this. Instead, he should have recommended banning exploitative zero-hours contracts full stop. In the context of the gig economy, he suggests creating a new category of worker, a “dependent contractor”, this undermines the victories of many gig economy workers and trade unions who have taken legal action to get worker status.

Ultimately, these recommendations are just that, recommendations. Theresa May has already admitted that she might not be able to implement the review. What does this mean for workers?

We’ve produced a table below with our assessment of the review proposals. There is some good, but Taylor’s ambition that “all work in the UK economy should be fair and decent with realistic scope for development and fulfilment” is still very far away.