Taylor Review

(1st reading: House of Commons)
Rebecca Long Bailey Excerpts
Wednesday 7th February 2018

(2 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rebecca Long Bailey Portrait Rebecca Long Bailey (Salford and Eccles) (Lab) - Hansard

(Urgent Question): To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy if he will make a statement on the Government’s response to the Taylor review.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Andrew Griffiths) Hansard
7 Feb 2018, 12:49 p.m.

I am delighted to set out the Government’s response to the review of modern working, which was led by Matthew Taylor. He set out his ambition that the Government should place as much emphasis on creating quality jobs as they do on the number of jobs. Good work and developing better jobs for everyone in the British economy are at the centre of the industrial strategy vision.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly said that, as we leave the European Union, there will be no roll-back of employment protections, but today we are committing to go further and to seek to enhance rights and protections in the modern workplace for even more people. We will support employers who give individuals their correct employment rights, but we will prevent undercutting by unscrupulous employers who try to game the system, by clearly defining who is employed and who is not. We will extend the right to receive a payslip to all workers, including a statement of the hours that they work. We are requiring employers to clearly set out written terms from day one of the employment relationship, and to extend that to all workers. We are taking forward 52 of the 53 recommendations in the Taylor review, and all but one of the recommendations from the joint report of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee and the Work and Pensions Committee.

For workers on zero-hours contracts, we are creating a right to request a stable contract. For the first time, the state will take responsibility for enforcing a wider set of employment rights, including sick pay and holiday pay, for the most vulnerable of workers. Employers who lose tribunal claims against staff and are found to have had no regard to the law will face fines of up to £20,000, quadrupled from the current £5,000. We will also ensure that employment tribunal awards are paid correctly.

The Government are very grateful to Matthew Taylor and his panel, as well as to the many individuals and organisations who contributed to the review. I would also like to thank the BEIS, Work and Pensions and Scottish Affairs Committees for their contribution to this work. Through our response, we are acting to ensure good work for all, to protect the rights of those on low pay and to ensure that more people get protection, security and certainty in the work they do.

Rebecca Long Bailey Portrait Rebecca Long Bailey - Parliament Live - Hansard
7 Feb 2018, 12:51 p.m.

The tragic case of Don Lane, a DPD gig worker, epitomises the precarious and unstable working life many people face and the failure of the Government to protect workers. They needed to do something bold today, but it appears that they are simply papering over the bleak realities with rhetoric. Launching four consultations, merely considering proposals, and tweaking the law here and there is not good enough. How would any of this have actually helped Don Lane? It simply would not—that is the fact of the matter.

So I ask the Minister: which rights will apply to which workers from day one? How will they be quantified for zero-hours workers? Why, despite public support, have the Government not protected agency workers by abolishing undercutting through the Swedish derogation? How does a right to request more stable hours differ from the current position? Without an obligation on the employer to accept such a request, it is meaningless. Why have the Government not brought forward any meaningful proposals to protect gig workers? Defining working time misses the point. We needed clarity on workers being paid when they are logged into apps waiting to receive jobs, as well as clear and urgent direction on the legal status of gig workers. Why was there not even one mention of trade unions? On the genuinely self-employed, we see the creation of a website allowing the self-employed to talk to each other—well, bravo! Why is there no system of support and no recognition of the precariousness of their situation? This is simply window dressing.

What we needed today was radical new architecture of the law at work to protect workers, in which the genuinely self-employed are offered key protections and the involvement of workers through their trade unions is crucial. We saw none of that, and to miss those things out of any recommendations is to miss the ocean and look at the pebbles underneath.

Andrew Griffiths Parliament Live - Hansard
7 Feb 2018, 12:53 p.m.

I have to say that I share the hon. Lady’s desire to improve the rights and protections for the workers we represent in our constituencies. It is disappointing that in her long response she was unable to welcome any of the steps we are taking. As a result of the actions set out in our response to this review, millions of workers will have greater rights and access to more protection. Indeed, I argue that we can rightly claim to be leading the world in improving the quality of work for our constituents.

The hon. Lady seems to argue that it is wrong to be consulting on these issues. I hope the House will understand that in addressing the issues she raises—such as employment status in the gig economy, the rights of agency workers and better transparency in the workplace—we are modernising employment law to make it fit for the future world of work. We are seeking expert views on how to do that, which is absolutely right. Our intention is clear, and we are consulting the experts on how we deliver on that promise. Matthew Taylor himself has said that these issues are complex and we must take time to get them right, but the House should be clear that we are consulting on them in order to act. Rather than rolling back employment legislation, which we are sometimes accused of, we are improving the rights of workers and the enforcement of those rights.

The hon. Lady mentions the very regrettable case that has been in the newspapers over the past few days. I extend my sympathies to the family of the individual concerned. I cannot speak about individual cases, but I direct her to page 15 of our response. It clearly sets out what we are going to do to ensure we have the correct definition of workers’ status, so they can have access to the kind of things she is talking about—sick pay, days off and the ability to attend doctor appointments if necessary.