Monday [30th November] marked four years since the Taylor review into modern working practices was officially launched. Despite accepting 51 out of its 53 recommendations, the government has only legislated for seven. At a time when we are witnessing a rise in insecure work due to the economic fallout from Covid, it is crucially important to revisit the review. Its overriding ambition – that “all work in the UK economy should be fair and decent with realistic scope for development and fulfilment” – should be at the heart of plans for an inclusive recovery.
Instead, we are seeing the opposite beginning to happen, with the crisis having a disproportionate economic impact on women, ethnic minorities, young people and the lowest paid. The number of people on zero-hours contracts has also increased by almost 20% to a record high of 1.05 million compared to last year. Our recovery from this crisis must curb this and refocus efforts towards building towards the goal of good work for all. The Taylor review recommendations were a step in the right direction.
Four years on, the government has failed to make the meaningful changes to employment practices we need. Its failure to act also played its part in reducing the resilience of jobs going into the pandemic. Too many entered the crisis in an already precarious position. Covid has exposed the chronic failure to protect workers’ rights, from health and safety law to national minimum wage enforcement. Workplace inspections have been rare too and prosecutions even rarer. The Chancellor said last week that the economic emergency has just begun. He should try telling that to those who have been out of work since March, and others who have seen their terms and conditions hit by unacceptable fire and rehire practices.
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