Fleet News

Government review recommends benefits overhaul for self-employed drivers

Increase in traffic prompts gridlock warning

Fleets that use self-employed drivers may have to start paying new employment benefits following a Government review.

The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices, published yesterday (July 11), recommends new legislation to clarify the difference between being self-employed and being a worker. It also recommends the term ’worker’ be replaced with the new definition of ‘dependent contractor’.

In a video interview with the BBC, Matthew Taylor, the lead of the review, said: “We think the critical determinant is control and supervision.

“When you do a job, are you being controlled and supervised? If you’re being controlled and supervised then probably you’re a worker and you should get worker’s rights, and also the organisation that pays you should be paying national insurance.”

Worker status or dependent contractor status, if it is renamed, would mean companies would have to pay national minimum wage, they would have to offer a statutory minimum level of paid holiday and workers cannot work more than 48 hours on average a week (they can opt out of this if they choose).

Workers would also be given legal protection against unlawful deductions from wages, protection against unlawful discrimination, protection for “whistleblowing” and to not be treated less favourably if they work part-time.

The report suggests: “Employment statuses should be distinct and not open to as much interpretation as currently, nor be so ambiguous that only a court can fully understand the basic principles.

“The law should also ensure that where individuals are under significant control in the way they work, they are not left unprotected as a result of the way their contract is drafted. It should not be as difficult as it is now for ordinary people or responsible employers to seek clarity on employment status.”

Companies will have to be able to clearly demonstrate that dependent contractors can “easily clear” minimum wage with their earnings.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has already said commercial fleet operators risk falling foul of the law if the tax status of self-employed drivers doesn’t “stack up”.

The new recommendations by Government could mean future employment tribunals over the working status of drivers, like recent ones with Uber, City Sprint and Addison Lee, would be unnecessary if companies have to comply with new legislation over employment statuses.

Uber has already been granted the right to appeal against last year’s London tribunal ruling that its UK minicab drivers should be treated as employed workers with rights to the minimum wage and sick pay.

The two-day employment appeals tribunal is scheduled for September 27, but it is unclear whether it will now be thrown out due to the new Government recommendations.

Companies like APC Overnight and Yodel previously told Fleet News they would wait to see what happens with Uber’s appeal to see if employment processes needed to be reviewed.

Colin Rann, APC Overnight operations director, said at the time: “Dependent on what happens with the appeal there could very well be a step change in how the industry looks at self-employed drivers.”

A spokesman for Yodel said: “We welcome the Taylor Review and its recommendations. We currently follow all regulations with regard to self-employment and will continue to do so as the new guidance is shared.”

Yodel said it currently has 10,000 drivers with many choosing to be self-employed “for the flexibility it offers in allowing them to decide their hours of work”.

The spokesman said Yodel will look at the revised employment status definitions and the employment benefits that come with it. He concluded: “Yodel will, of course, make any changes to our remuneration schemes if this is found to impact our self-employed colleagues.”

 



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