Are employment status rights going to change

21 June 2022

The Employment Bill included in the Queen’s Speech in December 2019 was absent from the Speech in 2022. As a result, a known body of piecemeal planned employment rights reforms to increase worker protections (some emanating from the 2017 Taylor Review recommendations) has been waiting in the wings to be introduced ‘when Parliamentary time allows’ for some while. 

The Government has however announced a two-part ‘Future of Work’ review. 

First, this is to be a high-level assessment of the key strategic issues and stated to build on existing government commitments, including those made in response to the Taylor Review. The second phase will be a more detailed assessment of selected areas of focus. The terms of reference suggest that these (non-exhaustive) key policy questions or challenges include: 

  • the importance of place and local labour markets in creating and facilitating access to good jobs;
  • the role of automation; and 
  • how the ‘good’ flexibility in the labour market and the gig economy can encourage productivity and growth, whilst ensuring sufficient protections are in place to prevent exploitative practices. 

Will this review tackle the broader challenges involving the correct classification of working status and the extent of the rights attached to the status categorisation?

Also, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee has launched an inquiry into the UK Labour Market.

Primarily, the BEIS Committee wants to understand whether the UK has enough workers and with the right skills in the right places to do the jobs required in our economy, including issues related to our ageing population, migration changes and the impact of technology. However, it also wants to understand whether current employment law is fit for purpose or requires reform.

One option for consideration by the BEIS Committee must be a default working status for all, attracting a baseline set of working rights, with employers needing to justify variances in status categorisations rather than workers bringing individual rights’ claims to establish them.

If government is finally going to tackle the need for good work, and for transparency of working status, workers’ rights and employers’ obligations; and then bolster that with government enforcement of workers’ rights generally, and pay rights in particular through a single enforcement body, then real change and greater working status clarity and engagement rights may yet emerge.

Employers need to ensure they both keep informed of developments but also that they continue to keep their workforce structure models under review for employment legal rights compliance.

If employers require support with workforce terms structuring to meet current regulations, please contact Charlie Barnes.

Charlie Barnes
Charlie Barnes
Director, Head of Employment Legal Services
Charlie Barnes
Charlie Barnes
Director, Head of Employment Legal Services