The government has launched a review into the future of work, as Boris Johnson looks to deliver on his promise to create a workforce that lays the foundation for economic prosperity across the UK.
MP Matt Warman has been asked to lead the ‘Future of Work’ review, with his findings to inform the government’s plans to ensure the labour market has the right skills and environment to seize post-Brexit opportunities and achieve Levelling Up and Net Zero ambitions.
The review will address several of the key questions raised as part of Matthew Taylor’s review ‘Good work: the Taylor review of modern working practices’ – a government-commissioned study which put forward a number of recommendations in 2017 to help make all work in the UK fair.
In this review, amongst other things, Matthew Taylor called on the government to simplify and update ambiguous employment status rules, along with making sure those working in a manner reflective of employment receive the rights and protection they deserve. This was mostly in reference to gig economy workers, such as Uber drivers and Deliveroo riders, whose employment status has been called into question in recent years.
The ‘Future of Work’ review will pick up from where Matthew Taylor left off, also exploring ways the government can improve the flexibility of the UK labour market and gig economy. Specifically, it will also look to ensure those who want and need employment rights receive them.
Alongside this, Warman will focus on the role of automation, assessing how quickly it is happening and the wider impact it’s likely to have on the world of work. The government said the review will also explore the importance of “place and local labour markets in creating and facilitating access to good jobs.”
The Prime Minister described it as “fantastic” that Warman, who the government said brings with him a wealth of science, tech and media experience to the role, has agreed to take on this “important” piece of work.
Mr Johnson added: “Tackling the economic challenges of today means helping more people into high-wage, high-skilled jobs and this review will look at how we can equip people with the skills they need to thrive in the workplace no matter where they’re from.”
In response, the MP for Boston and Skegness alluded to the “rapid pace” at which the nature of work is changing in the UK. He also highlighted the evolution in the way that businesses big and small now work, and that “employees today need different skills and protections to thrive.”
While Warman did emphasise the need to “get that balance right” to “provide tangible economic and social benefits to both companies and working people”, there was no reference to the importance of the UK’s 4.23m strong self-employed workforce – a group that contributes £316bn to the UK economy annually.
Across the freelancing and contracting sector, the launch of this review was welcomed by experts who see it as an opportunity for the government to address key issues hampering the independent workforce – whether confusion surrounding employment status or, when focusing on tax, IR35.
However, given Matthew Taylor’s review was published five years ago, with the government making little progress on many of his recommendations, freelancers, contractors and self-employed workers could be forgiven for feeling pessimistic.
The government has said the findings from the Future of Work review will inform labour market policy decisions, with the No.10 Policy Unit closely involved at key points. MP Warman will conduct the review this spring and summer, before evaluating responses from stakeholders and submitting a written report to the Prime Minister.
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