Thursday, September 20, 2018

The author of a major Government review into employment culture and the sprawling gig economy has told MPs that improvements to working standards would be most effective if they were implemented gradually.

Matthew Taylor, who is chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts, said that he favoured a “nudge” approach over a “shove” approach when looking for ways to improve practices in the work place, and that “incremental” change was better than using a “big stick”.

The former policy adviser to Tony Blair published his widely anticipated review into working practices in July, spelling out the principles for fair and decent work.

At the time it was cautiously welcomed by some employment lawyers and campaigners, but unions attacked it for not going far enough to clamp down on unethical practices, especially within the rapidly evolving gig economy.

On Wednesday, Mr Taylor told the Work and Pensions and Business and Energy select committees that technology contributes to people being able to work flexibly, but also introduces risks.

He has been vocal about the downsides associated with companies like Uber in the past and last week told The Independent in an interview that Uber had failed in its strategy to become so indispensable that regulators would be unwilling to crack down on its practices.

He was commenting on Transport for London’s shock decision last month to not automatically renew Uber’s operating licence in the city, potentially putting the jobs of a 40,000-strong fleet of drivers at risk.

Separately, Mr Taylor at the time also said that that since publishing the Taylor Review in July, he had become aware of several relatively easy additional measures not included in his original recommendations that could be implemented by the Government to protect employees from unjust working conditions.

One example, he said, would be for the Government to keep a list of accredited human resource advice providers and set up a helpline for companies lacking expertise on the matter – especially small and medium-sized firms.

On Wednesday Mr Taylor said that he thinks that gig economy companies would be prepared to give people worker status and the associated rights, as long as everyone in the sector does the same.

He also called for more proactive work by enforcement agencies, and suggested that they could target a particular town or city to root out unfair employment practices.

Additional reporting by Press Association