The Taylor Report on Employment Practices
a comment by Eamon Dyas
The report from one of Tony Blair’s ex-policy advisors [ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-40561807 ].
At least three types of work arrangements seem to be confused here. The Gig Economy, the Small Trader and the Cash Economy.
This is a good introduction to what I understand by the term “gig economy”. (https://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/jun/15/he-truth-about-working-for-deliveroo-uber-and-the-on-demand-economy)
The Gig Economy is dominated by large companies who can afford the technical and infrastructure requirements of work practices that rely on highly sophisticated modern electronic communication devices. The same electronic devices ensure that transactions at the point of “sale” are cash free. But given the scale of their operations these kind of companies can also afford to employ high-end accountants who can help them minimise their tax obligations. As far as protecting the rights of employees in these enterprises is concerned the obvious means of doing that is to provide a higher level of legal protection for trade union activity on the part of those employees. What can be achieved through this kind of thing was illustrated a while back when the employees of Deliveroo combined in joint action. It can be done but needs more encouragement not only from the State but from the wider trade union movement. See: http://theconversation.com/deliveroo-strike-win-shows-gig-workers-can-subvert-the-rules-too-64049
The small trader can extend from a person who usually works alone or with members of his/her family or who might employ a small number of people. However, these businesses, unlike those who operate in the gig economy, operate in an already disadvantageous relationship with the State. The tax and insurance obligations placed on them continue to hinder their operations with the result that many of them depend on the part non-declaration of income as the only means of staying in business. In London they also operate under the disadvantage of a property market that has made it virtually impossible to find and maintain affordable workshops. Instead of heaping more bureaucratic obligations on them what the Government should be doing in these instances is to provide some alleviation and incentive to enable them to survive and if possible flourish. The provision of government subsidised affordable work spaces could be made conditional on them acting as responsible employers in those instances where they might employ small numbers of people.
The scare about the cash economy is completely misleading as it is becoming a diminishing aspect of the modern way of doing business. In the past you could ask a tradesman doing a job around the house “how much for cash?” but, having asked this question of someone recently I notice there is a marked reluctance to engage in that kind of transaction any more. Because everything has to go through banks these days it is extremely difficult to hide income and consequently this aspect of the cash economy is no longer as an attractive an option as it once was.