The Future of Work – Interesting Article for Contingent Labour Category Managers

Whatever happens with regard to Brexit, it seems likely that some areas will see considerable legislative changes in the UK in the coming few years. One of those areas is around the “future of work”, covering issues such as the nature and taxation of self-employment, the gig economy and zero hours contracts and protection for workers. The Mathew Taylor Review sponsored by the government is looking at these issues and is due to report very soon (perhaps even tomorrow).

It is a complex and fascinating area, and one that category managers in the space as well as procurement leaders really need to keep an eye on, given the level of spend we see in most large organisations these days that fall under categories such as “contingent labour”, “statement of works” and even “consulting” definitions.

This complexity means we found an article by Kevin Barrow and Frances Lewis on the Lexology website very interesting and useful. In it, the legal experts from Osborne Clarke lay out six “predictions” covering key areas where we may well see new legislation, or at the very least, considerable debate. Those areas are as follows:

New rules about zero hours working, including agency and platform working

Impact of AI and robotics on jobs and incomes

Employment status of gig workers

Further attacks on perceived tax avoidance in the staffing supply chain and gig economy

Changes to the Agency Workers Regulations

Increased regulatory focus on online staffing platforms and staffing companies

Barrow and Frances clearly know their stuff, and there are some points they make that should get businesses thinking about what might be around the corner. What about the implications for firms of this, for instance, under the “tax avoidance” heading?

We consider that in the medium term there may be a move towards increased reporting obligations or perhaps an obligation to make all payments to platform workers, self-employed workers and agency workers via a state-regulated or licenced group of “approved” payment intermediaries who can make assessments as to tax status and apply PAYE, NICs, Apprenticeship Levy, pension payments and the like accordingly”.

We’ve seen this year a clamp-down in the public sector on “false self-employment” and debates about IR34 that caused many problems for hiring government departments and NHS bodies, as well as for the contractors affected.  Might we see similar events impacting private sector employers too in coming years? That also links into the rights of “gig workers”, and those employed (or not employed) by Uber, Deliveroo and the like. It certainly seems very likely that the Taylor Review will make recommendations about increasing the rights of such workers.

These issues and questions are likely to have implications (in large organisations certainly) that require action from various business functions; including procurement, HR, finance and legal. As always, our advice to procurement and contingent labour category managers  in particular is to get onto the front foot and look to be positioned as the “expert” internally on these matters.  Reading the Barrow / Lewis article is a good start, and we will no doubt be back with more on this shortly.

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  1. The Lady Doth Protest:

    There’s loads more Peter – the Taylor Review is necessary reading!

    * Apprenticeship Levy – not working for recruitment companies with artificially high payrolls
    * Sick pay reform – this could increase costs if it is treated as a PAYE line item like holiday pay, pensions, employer’s NI and the apprenticeship levy is today.
    * Ability to request a permanent job after 12 months- now what will the criteria be for a company to reject the request?! The mind boggles!

    Of course we have no idea whether the review recommendations will be taken forward – but oh it’s a good read all the same!

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