Employment Partner Mark Watson quoted in Drapers on how the Taylor Review may hit zero-hours contracts

Large retailers using temporary contracts or agency staff in their supply chains could face employment law changes brought in by The Taylor Review. 

Former Labour party official Matthew Taylor spearheaded the 115-page report, published on 11 July, which was commissioned by the government last year to address non-traditional forms of work.

A key recommendation that may affect fashion retailers states that agency workers should have the right to request a direct, full-time contract with their employer after 12 months, with businesses considering the request “in a reasonable manner”.

The wide-ranging review ruled out banning zero-hours contracts, but said workers affected should similarly have the opportunity to request guaranteed hours after 12 months.

It also urged the government to enforce companies “beyond a certain size” to publish their models of employment and use of agency services, as well as the number of people on agency and zero hours contracts requesting to move to fixed hours or permanent direct employment.

The review stated: “Employers who decide to demand more insecure forms of work from large sections of their workforce should consider the impact this may be having.

“Individuals deserve the opportunity to plan for the future and where they commit to regular work, employers who can, should be obliged to reciprocate.”

However, Fox Williams employment partner Mark Watson said he was unsure if the recommendations would make a palpable difference: “There are some significant rights here that generate entitlement on the part of the ‘dependent contractor’. However, I would question how many people these would apply to. With agency workers there are circumstances where they stay on with an employer for so long they become part of the furniture, so it would be meaningful for some. However, zero-hours contracts tend to be relatively short-term arrangements – often under 12 months – so I’m not sure if the changes would be as meaningful, if implemented.”

He added: “Nothing will happen until there is greater certainty on what will happen as a result of the review, so businesses shouldn’t jump for advice in one direction when the government may not end up implementing it. Something may come out of the review but I don’t think it will happen quickly."

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