Government ‘will support changes to prevent abuse of self-employment’

Posted 20th March 2017 in For Businesses For Workers

The government is expected to support new legal recommendations that would prevent companies from abusing the self-employment system for their own gain, according to the head of an influential review.

Matthew Taylor, who is chairing the Downing Street-backed review into modern work and the gig economy, said his analysis will recommend changes to the rights of self-employed workers when it is published in June, adding that he expects prime minister Theresa May to follow his suggestions.

Mr Taylor, the head of the Royal Society of Arts, told ITV’s Peston on Sunday that his evidence suggests that a growing number of companies are abusing the current law by asking self-employed workers to fulfil responsibilities expected of salaried staff without providing adequate rights and protections in return.

Specifically, this pertains to employers that exercise strict control over the basis on which nominally self-employed staff members can work, meaning they are denied the freedoms and flexibility that define traditional self-employment.

At the same time, since these workers are registered as sole traders rather than being on payroll, the companies avoid having to offer them statutory sick pay and maternity benefits, or to make contributions towards their pensions. The new review is expected to recommend various measures to tackle this kind of conduct, including stricter rules on the definition of self-employment, barring companies from imposing controls or sanctions on workers classed as self-employed.

Mr Taylor said: “If you want to control your workers, you will have to respect their rights and provide entitlements too, but if you really don’t want to control them, that’s fine – then they’ll be self-employed.

“But there look like there are cases at the moment where firms both want control but not to provide those workers with entitlements and rights.”

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