In a sample survey conducted by European law firm Fieldfisher, businesses across a range of industries and sectors say that they are open to employment law reform regarding the use of contractors. Over half are prepared to adapt their business models to deal with the anticipated legislative changes arising from the Taylor Review - the government-commissioned review into modern-day working practices such as zero-hours contracts and self-employed contractors.
Over 70% of businesses surveyed said that they regularly engage self-employed contractors in some form. Responses were split when asked about the impact potential reform would have on their current business models, but a majority were in agreement that they would benefit from greater clarity over employment and tax status.
Bearing in mind the Taylor Review, some businesses that are currently using self-employed contractors are already planning ahead with a focus on preserving flexibility and believe that the impact on costs of any reform will be manageable, so long as the basic "on-call" framework remains operable.
One large retailer gave a word of caution, saying that their business model would have to change and that as a consequence, costs would likely increase and they would have to seek other suitable avenues to absorb these costs. But most respondents echoed the message that further worker rights would actually bring more clarity. Very few thought that the costs would impact largely on their business.
One respondent said "Companies are likely to respond to any increase in workers' rights in the same way as they responded to the introduction of the national minimum wage, and later the national living wage – by embracing the change and getting on with it".
James Warren, Partner at Fieldfisher said, "Despite many advisors looking at the potential negatives arising from the Taylor Review's likely proposals, our findings makes it clear that most businesses are in favour of addressing the issues which the review has been set up to examine. In these turbulent times, it appears the majority of businesses would value increased legal certainty when using flexible labour resources, even if that may have a price attached. However, opinions are likely to be different at the end of the market where low cost is the key consideration."
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