Theresa May to back radical overhaul of workers' rights

Matthew Taylor's review to focus on blurred boundary between employees and self-employed

Theresa May
(Image credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Theresa May is to back plans for a radical overhaul of workers' rights to better reflect 21st-century employment practices, says The Guardian.

Matthew Taylor, who was appointed by the Prime Minister to lead a review of the gig economy and modern work, said he would be recommending changes to the rights of self-employed workers in his report, which will be published in June.

He added he will highlight the blurring of boundaries between the rights afforded to the self-employed and those classified as employees.

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A growing number of companies, particularly in the delivery sector, now use self-employed workers, who are not entitled to the likes of holiday or sick pay.

However, some argue they are not truly self-employed as their work is typically dictated by the firm for whom they work.

In the UK, a company cannot classify anyone as self-employed if they do not take any financial risk or set the terms and hours they work.

Employment law, however, has a middle ground option of "worker", the status accorded to Uber drivers by a tribunal last year, although this still does not bring with it the right to redundancy pay or to claim unfair dismissal, for example.

Taylor said: "We don't accept the idea of kind of wage slavery, the idea of people at work having no choice, no voice, no capacity to influence what's going on around them."

A number of high-profile legal cases in the past few months have hinged on the balance between employers' control and the rights and entitlements offered to those they employ.

In October, Uber lost a landmark employment tribunal case brought by drivers "who said the stringent conditions placed on their work by the company meant they were… employees who were entitled to minimum wage and sick pay", says The Guardian.

There could also be tax implications from the review, after this month's Budget saw Philip Hammond attempt to increase national insurance contributions for self-employed workers.

People who work for themselves currently pay three per cent less national insurance than those directly employed, despite having the same pension rights following reforms in recent years.

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