Taylor 'wants to define self-employment in law'

The head of a government review into modern working practices wants to legally define self-employment as distinct from other ways of working, it has emerged.

Matthew Taylor, of the Taylor review, reportedly said at the weekend that his wish was to “define in primary legislation” the principles that distinguish “self-employment” status from “worker” status.

The latter affords more rights than self-employed status (as the recent Pimlico Plumbers case made clear), but fewer rights than employee status. The different categorisations have led to calls for self-employment to be set in stone.

In an interview with the Financial Times at the weekend, Mr Taylor let on that he was keen to do so, seeming to reflect his stated belief that legislation, not the courts, should be providing more of the answers.

He also told the newspaper that he had considered reversing the burden of proof, with the effect that individuals would not have to go to court to settle status issues, as a CitySprint courier recently did.

Rather, and seemingly aimed at reducing the number of costly court actions, the individual could ask for an intermediary organisation (Acas was exampled by the FT) to issue a ruling. It would then be the employer’s choice to challenge that decision in court.

Mr Taylor’s interview at the weekend is not the first time he has spoken out about his status convictions, before his review formally concludes and issues recommendations this summer.

In the run-up to Budget 2017 in March, the RSA chief executive supported chancellor Philip Hammond’s narrative that independent working, such as self-employment but also extending to ‘gig economy’ work, has had a negative impact on tax revenues.

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