Article by PRISM

Trade body PRISM has welcomed the Government’s decision to launch a review of employment legislation after campaigning for one for the past year.

PRISM has been pressing for a review to end the sticking plaster approach to legislative changes which have been impacting the temporary workers market. The idea of the review received broad support from MP’s across all the major political parties as well as many of the large representative groups and informed commentators.

PRISM has already engaged independent think tank the Social Market Foundation (SMF) to carry out a review of employment and tax legislation which will be crucially important as one of the first studies to report initial findings on this topic later this year, finally reporting in full in early 2017.

Theresa May has now asked Tony Blair’s former policy chief Matthew Taylor to carry out the study because she says she wants to be “certain that employment regulation and practices are keeping pace with the changing world of work”, which is a point PRISM has been continually highlighting.

Crawford Temple, CEO of PRISM, said: “It’s fantastic that Theresa May has now recognised this issue and appears serious about making sure that employment legislation keeps up with the world of work which has changed so dramatically over the last 20 years.

“As a former director of the Institute for Public Policy Research, Matthew Taylor is the right person for this job because he will bring a fairness and rigour to an issue with many competing vested interests. It’s now vital that planned changes including the apprenticeship levy are put on hold while this important work is carried out.”

Mr Temple added: “PRISM has been campaigning for a strategic review for the past year because flexible workers are crucial to the UK’s prosperity and they have been getting a raw deal.

“I am not just talking about how some are exploited unfairly by some in the gig economy but about the hundreds of thousands of contractors who identify with the self-employed but who have been unjustly stripped this year of the right to access a key benefit linked to flexible work, which is tax relief on Travel and Subsistence (T&S).

“PRISM is happy to fully support and engage with the Government’s review to ensure the outcomes deliver a simplified tax and employment framework suited to modern business models, which becomes even more important as we enter the Brexit period.”

Changes to T&S were just the latest of a series of attacks on the sector that have resulted in complex and uncertain legislation that fails to deliver certainty of outcomes and continues to create unintended market distortions.

PRISM, whose members service the needs of contractors, expects the findings made by the SMF, which is due to begin reporting later this year and conclude next year, to inform the Government’s own review.

The Government’s move was announced just days after Labour deputy leader Tom Watson announced an independent commission on the future of work which will also report back next year. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also used his speech at the Labour conference to announce a review of social security benefits for the self-employed.

The Prime Minister’s review will look at extending workers’ rights and the use of self-employed staff by firms such as Deliveroo and Uber.

Aides were quoted as saying it would also focus on how the country’s labour market can “maintain flexibility while also supporting security and workplace rights”.