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Minister says new employment laws are on the way (but we don’t know when)

June 14, 2021
Employment Law

The government has been threatening to update our employment laws for some years now.  So, is it possible we are getting slightly closer to the big day?

What's this all about?

It seems an eternity ago now, but back in 2017, Theresa May (remember her?) commissioned Matthew Taylor to conduct a detailed review of our employment laws. The aim was to assess their ‘fitness for purpose’ in the modern world and consider what, if any, changes needed to be made.

What did Mr Taylor find?

Mr Taylor’s report made interesting reading. Amongst other things, it recommended greater clarity on the fundamental question of whether an individual is properly to be regarded as an employee, a worker, or genuinely self-employed. If it could be achieved, the benefits of a clear and simple ‘status test’ are plain to see. After all, some of the highest-profile employment law disputes of the last few years - involving the likes of Uber and Pimlico Plumbers – have concerned the seemingly simple question of whether taxi drivers and plumbers should be regarded as ‘workers’ or not.

So, if we can all agree that a clearer employment status test would be highly desirable, why is it that 4 years after the Taylor Review, nothing has changed? And how come there was not even the merest mention of new employment laws in the recent Queen’s speech?  

Well despite the apparent inactivity, in response to questioning from a Labour MP, business minister Paul Scully recently claimed that the government is still intent on updating employment laws in order to enhance and protect workers’ rights. We can only assume that this means a revision of the employment status test is still on the political agenda. Unfortunately, it would appear that for now, there simply isn’t enough parliamentary time to convert this ambition into reality.

If not now, then when?

With all that is going on in the world right now, spare parliamentary time for a new employment bill may still be a long way off. So, for now, for better or for worse, we are stuck with the laws we’ve got.

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