I didn’t write about the Taylor report last week because I wanted to digest it first – and I was walking on the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path! West Wales in the sun is glorious, I recommend it – but back to Taylor…
There’s much in the report which is commendable, not least it’s implicit acceptance of the fact that everything in the employment garden is far from rosy. It’s clearly the product of a great deal of careful research and some deep thought. It’s also been produced in a remarkably short time and seems reasonably balanced. And yet…somehow it doesn’t quite hit the spot. I think the issue is that Good Work makes 75 recommendations to the government and that’s far too many to encourage a coherent response let alone a legislative or regulatory response. The recommendations themselves are also a slightly odd mixture of detail and aspiration. For instance, there’s a recommendation that HMRC take responsibility for enforcing rights to sick pay and holiday pay for low paid workers and another that the burden of proof on employment status should be reversed. These are balanced by soaring rhetoric that the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy should be responsible for the quality of work in the British economy and “the custodian for ensuring market conditions allow for the creation of quality work.” Excellent sentiments but some people may find this a rather rich diet of motherhood and apple pie.
There’s more than enough in Good Work to generate interesting and constructive debate and I sense it’ll become a valuable research tool – but a vehicle for change? Only time will tell. Click here for a link to the report.
One of the observations in Good Work is that many businesses rely on agency workers “when they could be more forward thinking in their scheduling”. It’s clearly concerned about a reliance on agency workers and zero hours contractors to reduce costs. In that context I couldn’t help a wry smile at Wednesday’s news that the proportion of agency workers in HM Courts and Tribunals Service has risen over the last five years from 3.9% to 9.4%.