Taylor Review

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th September 2017.

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Photo of Jeff Smith Jeff Smith Opposition Whip (Commons) 12:00 am, 12th September 2017

To ask the Secretary of State what progress he has made on assessing the recommendations of the Taylor review of modern working practices.

Photo of Margot James Margot James Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

We welcome, accept and agree with Matthew Taylor’s ambition that all work in the UK should be fair and decent, with realistic scope for development and fulfilment. The report is comprehensive and detailed. We will give it the careful consideration it deserves, and we will respond in full later this year.

Photo of Jeff Smith Jeff Smith Opposition Whip (Commons)

Taylor agreed that we needed to ensure that the self-employed were genuinely self-employed and to strengthen their rights. A Labour Government would shift the burden of proof, so that the law would assume that a worker was an employee unless the employer could prove otherwise. We would set up a dedicated commission to modernise the law on employment status. Why cannot this Government commit to real action like that?

Photo of Margot James Margot James Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

Much of what the hon. Gentleman refers to is covered by Matthew Taylor in his report, and one of his recommendations that we will be following up with interest is that all workers should be informed of their status in writing by their employer before they start their work.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

Has my hon. Friend looked at the working practices of the John Lewis Partnership—with which I no longer have any connection whatever—and seen the way in which it has people on its boards of management? Does she not believe that this is an important way to achieve worker involvement?

Photo of Margot James Margot James Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

I thank my hon. Friend for his commendation of the John Lewis Partnership, with which I concur. It is, indeed, a very good employer, but it is not alone: many other large companies engage with their employees in much the same way.

Photo of Rachel Reeves Rachel Reeves Chair, Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee

Will the Minister join me in welcoming the Supreme Court’s ruling that employment tribunal fees for workers are illegal? Will she now accept that it is the Government’s responsibility to end the use of bogus self-employment by companies that seek to avoid paying national insurance and giving workers the rights that they deserve? Will she commit to introducing the necessary legislative changes in this Parliament to give workers the rights that they need and to ensure that taxpayers get the tax revenue and national insurance that they deserve?

Photo of Margot James Margot James Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

Indeed, what the hon. Lady refers to as bogus self-employment is one of the reasons why the Prime Minister appointed Matthew Taylor to review employment protection in the context of the modern economy. She raises some good points, and I trust her Committee will be investigating them. My Department will co-operate fully.

Photo of David Simpson David Simpson Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

As well as the whole issue around modern working practices, what more can the Government do to incorporate productivity within this?

Photo of Margot James Margot James Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

Productivity is a crucial part of our industrial strategy, as are good employee communications and practice. The union between Matthew Taylor’s report and the industrial strategy will focus very much on improving productivity as the basis of improving people’s earning power.