Government calls for better management and training to guide UK towards fair and decent work for all

11 July 2017 -

Good ManagementThe Taylor Review also recommends rebalancing flexible working arrangements and wider adoption of the National Living Wage

Matt Scott

The government-commissioned Taylor Review in Modern Employment Practices has called on the UK to improve its management capabilities in order to deliver true fairness in the workplace. As part of the review, the government has released a list of seven principles it believes the UK needs in order to achieve fair and decent work for all, as well as a 115 page report.

Among the seven principles announced today are a desire for better managed organisations, driven by responsible corporate governance, not regulation, as well as a commitment to further training for British workers and a more proactive approach to managing mental health in the workplace.

And Matthew Taylor, author of the report, drew attention to the importance of the gig economy to the UK, but said that more needed to be done to re-balance flexible working arrangements so that it was not one-sided in favour of the employer.

"Of all the issues that were raised with us as we went around the country, the one that came through most strongly was what the report calls one-sided flexibility,” he said. "One-sided flexibility is where employers seek to transfer all risk onto the shoulder of workers in ways that make people more insecure and makes their lives harder to manage. It's the people told to be ready for work or travelling to work, only to be told none is available."

CMI chief executive Ann Francke welcomed the findings of the review, and said the UK would benefit from adopting the principles laid out by the report.

“Taylor’s welcome recommendations drive home the need for better management to transform the workplace and UK plc,” she said. “It’s great to see that Taylor’s principles also highlight the need to improve employee training, engagement and sense of purpose at work.

“Businesses rather than additional regulation should be responsible for creating fairer and more productive workplaces. The launch of Taylor’s review on the same day as the Productivity Leadership Group’s ‘Be The Business’ campaign shows the growing recognition that professionalising management will go a long way to solving the UK’s stubborn productivity puzzle.”

Taylor’s 7 Principles in Full

1. 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 Government needs to be held accountable but for which we all need to take responsibility.

a) The same basic principles should apply to all forms of employment in the British economy – there should be a fair balance of rights and responsibilities, everyone should have a baseline of protection and there should be routes to enable progression at work.

b) Over the long term, in the interests of innovation, fair competition and sound public finances, we need to make the taxation of labour more consistent across employment forms while at the same time improving the rights and entitlements of self-employed people.

c) Technological change will impact work and types of employment and we need to be able to adapt, but technology can also offer new opportunities for smarter regulation, more  flexible entitlements and new ways for people to organise.

2. 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.

3. 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 non- wage, 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 one- sided flexibility and therefore we need to provide additional protections for this group and stronger incentives for firms to treat them fairly.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. The National Living Wage is a powerful tool to raise the financial base line 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.

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