written by Nicky Lowes 
The Taylor review, an independent report of modern employment practices which was commissioned by the government, was released in July last year. Last week the Government responded to the review, emphasising its commitment to meeting the needs of a changing labour market.
The report and Government’s response make for some heavy reading: the original review reaches over a hundred pages and the response stretches over eighty. One of the most interesting issues addressed in the Taylor review is the rising prominence of the ‘gig economy’. The term refers to an increasing numbers of independent workers who work flexible hours and often sell their labour through apps.
Proponents of this rising sector of employment, which an estimated 5 million in the UK are employed in, cite the flexibility offered by such job roles as a major advantage of the industry; detractors, however, express concern over worker exploitation. There’s recently been a huge amount of controversy in legal circles regarding what exactly the legal rights of such self-employed workers are, a matter the Taylor review directly addresses.

The report emphasizes the need for the government to re-define ‘dependant contractor’ status to cover workers in the gig economy, so they can still enjoy job flexibility whilst being protected from exploitation. It stresses that greater transparency of rights is needed through Government legislation to avoid misunderstanding and that self-employed status should mean the same thing for tax purposes.

The report further emphasized concerns that gig economy workers should be receiving roughly the National Minimum Wage, suggesting that companies should be able to demonstrate that their workers earn at least 1.2 times the National Minimum Wage for over-25s.

The Government’s response did little to clearly outline the status of workers in the gig economy in itself, though it recognised that it was a problem that must be addressed. It claimed that more expertise was needed before any real legislative changes could be made to the sector.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said of the Government’s response:
“Employment rights are only as good as people’s ability to enforce them, so we welcome the Government’s plans to help people recover the holiday and sick pay they’re due.
“By taking on responsibility for enforcing these pay rights, the government is paving the way for unscrupulous bosses to be investigated and fined if they don’t play by the rules - and crucially means workers aren’t left to do all the heavy lifting on their own.
“However, while the Government consultation on the rights of gig economy workers is a step in the right direction, it leaves hundreds of thousands of people in limbo with respect to their rights. With their employment status a grey area, people remain at risk of being taken advantage of by unscrupulous bosses.”