CRSE welcomes Government’s Good Work plan

The Government recently announced its Good Work plan – its response to the independent Taylor Review published last year. The CRSE welcomed the Taylor Review into modern working practices, which found that the strength of the UK’s labour market is its flexibility, and recommended a number of positive ways to build on this. Among the best was clarifying the confusion about the legal status of workers, employees and the self-employed. The CRSE was pleased to see that the Government response has accepted many of the most positive recommendations.

Clarifying employment status

The Government’s response to the Taylor Review included provision for a detailed consultation on ways of clarifying employment status. This is likely to include discussion of how new legislation can make it easier for businesses and the workforce themselves to understand whether a person is an employee, a worker or self-employed.

The response to the Taylor Review has come at a crucial time, not long after the CRSE and the Institute for Employment Studies published their landmark report, The True Diversity of Self-Employment.

The report found that a small proportion (15%) of the solo self-employed have limited autonomy and a lack of control in their work, raising questions about their self-employed status. Changing legislation and clarifying self-employment status could go some way to clearing this confusion.

As a result, the CRSE supports the Government view that the UK currently has inadequate employment definitions that need reviewing and clarifying to reflect the diversity not just of the modern labour market, but also the self-employed sector.

Towards a differentiated policy approach

The CRSE report showed once and for all the true diversity of the self-employed sector, and in light of this it’s essential that the Government adopts a more differentiated policy approach, recognising the varied needs of the nine different segments of the self-employed workforce.

A secure and independent sector

One of the report’s key findings was that the majority (53%) of the solo self-employed workforce have high levels of independence and security, and are in fact much happier in their work than employees in similar roles. It is therefore important that any new, differentiated approach to the self-employed involves preserving the independence, autonomy and job satisfaction enjoyed by this group.

The CRSE also welcomes the Government’s pledge to work with independent bodies to evaluate the level of good work in the UK economy. Defining and promoting good work will be essential for protecting the freedom and wellbeing of the many self-employed who are independent and secure – and contribute so much to the UK economy. 

The insecure cohort

The CRSE also welcomes the Government’s approach to the less secure parts of the self-employed sector – particularly its commitment to ensure workers always know and receive the rights and protections they are entitled to.

The CRSE’s report showed that one in five (21%) of all solo self-employed people are in insecure work. It also found that people in this group tend to be less qualified and less financially secure than the rest of the sector – with many fewer currently paying into pensions and other saving schemes.

The CRSE therefore especially welcomes the Government’s commitment to ‘improve pension provision among the self-employed’ and ‘develop a consistent approach to employability and lifelong learning.’ The CRSE believes that reviewing the pension system and providing better access to training and skills development opportunities will be essential for improving conditions among this insecure cohort.

What next?

Overall, the CRSE strongly welcomes the Government’s response to the Taylor Review. One of the key announcements in the response was that there will be four consultations in the coming months on key aspects of the Review such as clarifying employment status. The CRSE will be working closely with the Government on these consultations to ensure they take a thorough and evidence-based approach to the hugely diverse and complex self-employed sector.

Suneeta Johal, Director of the CRSE said:

“The CRSE wholeheartedly welcomes the Government’s decision to consult on employment status. It is absolutely essential that we are able to differentiate between employees, workers and the self-employed.

“It is also excellent news that the Government has committed to improving support for the self-employed. Focusing on areas like pension provision and life-long learning will be key for improving conditions among the insecure cohort of the self-employed.

“Clearing the status confusion, providing better access to training and skills development opportunities and exploring flexible pension solutions for the self-employed were some of our report’s key recommendations, and we are extremely pleased the Government has taken them on board.

“The next step from here will be working together to build on the Taylor Review by analysing ‘good work’ in the UK economy. We are looking forward to working closely with the Government throughout the process.”