Taylor review could lead to rise in employment disputes, lawyers say

The publication this week of the Taylor review of modern working practices could lead to more cases being filed against businesses due to rising awareness of worker categorisation, lawyers have said.

The report, which was commissioned by Prime Minister Theresa May last October, sets out recommendations to improve modern employment, with a focus on new forms of work and employee rights in the gig economy.

Employee and worker categorisation had been widely expected to be at the forefront of the report, following high profile disputes involving gig economy companies such as Uber and Deliveroo.

Some lawyers have said the recommendations do not provide enough clarity on the status of workers for such companies and, in fact, could cause further confusion over their legal status.

Leigh Day associate solicitor Nigel McKay, who has represented Uber drivers and Deliveroo riders in employment disputes, said: “More litigation is a potential outcome of the review, particularly because the recommended changes will not be implemented in the near future – or at all, given the current governmental situation.

“The coverage that has come out of previous claims against gig economy employers has brought this issue into the public eye, and I think this publication will do the same. People will start to think: ‘I don’t get holiday pay, yet I am working under the control of my employer’.

“The report highlights what rights people are entitled to. In the meantime, the only way of asserting those rights is to go to a tribunal.”

This view is supported by Fieldfisher employment, pensions and immigration head Ranjit Dhindsa. She suggested that the review’s recommendations do not reduce confusion around employment categories and that further consultation is required.

She said: “There is still scope for uncertainty and we are still going to end up in tribunal stage with employment cases. It is a huge report, but the underlying issue is what a person’s work status is and what the implication of that is.

“Employers will have views on the cost of implementing the review’s recommendations and reviewing the labour force. Employees might also have a view on what it means for their work flexibility, their rights and how they pay tax. We need consultation so that both sides can feed into the debate.”

Lawyers have also raised concerns that the recommendations of the report may result in employers becoming more ‘creative’ with their categorisation of employees.

Paul Hastings international employment head Suzanne Horne said: “It won’t reduce the amount of litigation, because employees and workers will still be arguing over what their employment categorisation should be.

“From an employer perspective, if there were greater definition around classification of workers, that may reduce disputes in the workplace. But I don’t think this report is going to resolve the issues from the gig economy.

“One of the interesting things about these new business models is that they are exploring the boundaries of what being an employee or worker does or does not mean. One of the issues that could come out of the report is that there will be even more creative ways to categorise people.”