Equity responds to the Taylor review
14 July 2017
The Taylor review was created "to consider how employment practices need to change in order to keep pace with modern business models."
You can read the full report here.
Equity's view on this document are that:
- Equity is very disappointed that despite the growth in employment and value to the economy of the creative industries there is no mention of the sector and the challenges faced by creative workers in the report. Equity has been leading the way in organising, representing, campaigning and bargaining for atypical workers in what is the original gig economy and we have extensive experience of navigating issues which are on the increase in traditional and emerging sectors of the economy including low and non paid work, employment status, taxation and national insurance questions, welfare benefit entitlements, family friendly rights holiday pay and other employment rights and health and safety.
- We welcome the report’s recommendation for ‘sector specific codes to support good work’. Equity has called on the Government and BEIS to issue sector specific advice on the application of the National Living Wage to the creative sector and has been supported in this by the LPC in recommendations made in their reports over many years. This advice is urgently needed to support employers and workers in our growing sector. However the recommendation that the LPC take this task on under an expanded remit, whilst interesting, is not possible under current structures and risks yet further delay. We call on the Government to take up this recommendation urgently.
- We support the retention of the three tier system under current employment law and will follow with interest the progression of the idea around a rebrand and strengthening of worker status as ‘dependent contractor’ status. We also agree that worker status is poorly understood currently and that there is widespread confusion between language relating to taxation and employment law. We are, however concerned about the confidence expressed in technology such as apps for the purposes of establishing employment status. In our sector, the use of an employment status tool for tax (CEST) has caused unnecessary confusion we believe any online tool must be sufficiently flexible to reflect the reality of the working arrangements of diverse workers.
- The report says the difference in benefit entitlement self-employed and employed people is 'small.' However our self-employed members cannot access a key benefit - contribution based JSA - which they may need to access more than a mainsteam self-employed individual. Worse still they have no option to pay the national insurance contribution that would enable entitlement. We are also concerned about the report’s endorsement of the Minimum Income Floor and start up periods applied to self-employed workers accessing Universal Credit. The recent report of the Work and Pensions Select Committee criticises both of these elements in detail and calls for a moratorium while an independent review is taken out.
- It is also disappointing that parental rights for self-employed workers are not better addressed. Currently you can only share your maternity allowance with your partner if the partner is employed and there is no mechanism to pay to become eligible for this. (For example a self-employed actress could get a good acting job lasting a few months after giving birth. She cannot transfer the remaining maternity allowance to her partner because he/she is self-employed also. However if the partner were an employee they could access this. This does happen regularly due to the unpredictable nature of the industry.
- We believe that there is a missed opportunity in the report to support the growth of collective bargaining and strong unions. Together with existing law and the tribunal system collective bargaining has been a vital component in extending rights for self-employed workers in the creative sector – most notably through the enshrining of maternity, paternity and other rights in contracts.
- The report rightly states that it is unfair for workers to have to pay tribunal fees to establish their status, before being able to pursue their claim, which in turn could lead to the payment of further fees. Tribunal fees are a significant barrier to justice for workers and since their introduction our position has been that they should be abolished.
- We are surprised and disappointed that there are no specific recommendations which seek to tackle the discrimination and barriers faced by women, BAME, Deaf and Disabled and LGBT+ workers.
- We disagree with the suggestion to make it legal to enable employers to effectively roll up holiday pay through higher pay rates (around 12% higher). This would not aid contract transparency for workers, would deny workers the ability to take holiday, and would undermine the health and safety benefits of decent holidays and rest time for workers struggling with long hours of work. We believe instead that the focus should be on tackling the failure of enforcement of holiday pay rights for those with worker status, which should be included in the remit of the Low Pay Commission or another Government agency/Department.
- We do, however, support the suggestion about raising the rate of the National Living Wage paid to workers on zero hours contracts. This could help people working in theme parks and other sectors in the entertainment industry if the rates/minimum contract hours are set at a suitable level to incentivise employers appropriately.
- We welcome the recommendation around extension pension auto enrolment.