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Review of UK employment practices says quality is as important as quantity in job creation

PUBLISHED: 06:00 11 July 2017 | UPDATED: 18:17 11 July 2017

File photo of people making notes in a meeting. Photo credit should read: Lewis Stickley/PA Wire

File photo of people making notes in a meeting. Photo credit should read: Lewis Stickley/PA Wire

Employers and government must work to improve the UK’s performance on job quality, rather than just quantity, an independent reviewer of the country’s employment practises has urged.

Former Downing Street advisor Matthew Taylor, who was commissioned by Theresa May to carry out the review into UK employment and its evolving business models, said improving the quality of work should play an important part in boosting productivity.

Companies like Deliveroo, Uber and CitySprint have come under fire for not providing their workers – who they claim are self-employed – with benefits full-time employees are entitled to like paid holiday and sick pay.

MORE: Taylor review: seven key principles to improve the UK job market

MORE: Union leaders disappointed by “missed opportunity” in Taylor review

Mr Taylor, chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts, also advised the government to re-examine employment laws to make it easier for workers to understand their rights, and to take a more “proactive” approach to workplace health.

His review, published on Tuesday, sets out a seven-point blueprint for better-quality job creation including better protections for people with worker status (which could be renamed “dependent contractor” status) and a clearer way to distinguish them from people who are legitimately self-employed.

Launching the review in London, Mr Taylor said: “Our national performance on the quantity of work is strong. But quantity alone is not enough for a thriving economy and fair society. We believe now is the time to complement that commitment to creating jobs with the goal of creating better jobs.

“The review calls on the government to adopt the ambition that all work should be fair and decent with scope for fulfilment and development.

“Despite the impact of the National Living Wage and tax credits, there will always be people who are in work but finding it hard to make ends meet. Our social contract with those people should include dignity at work and the realistic scope to progress in the labour market.

“Bad work – insecure, exploitative, controlling – is bad for health and wellbeing, something that generates cost for vulnerable individuals but also for wider society.

“As many business leaders recognise, low quality work and weak management is implicated in our productivity challenge. Improving the quality of work should be an important part of our productivity strategy.”

After details of the review were leaked this week, GMB, the self-styled union for gig economy workers, said the recommendations did not go far enough.

General secretary Tim Roache said: “Any report worth its salt on the modern world of work absolutely has to tackle the use of agency and precarious work as a business model – thousands of people work in perpetual insecurity while vastly profitable companies can make even more in profit while refusing to pay the taxes they owe all of us. That’s simply not right.

“Anything short of a wholesale crackdown of exploitation of working people, and avoiding tax, in the name of creating a modern world of work is unacceptable and will be seen by working people as a smoke screen for the status quo while bosses carry on as normal.”

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