Reflections on the Taylor Review: improving employee engagement

In this final posting in our blog series on the Taylor Review, we look at its proposals for strengthening employee engagement.

Widening information and consultation

The Review did not express any view on the options for worker representation canvassed in the last year’s corporate governance consultation paper, on which the Government has now published its response. However it does argue for widening the scope of the Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations.

Since their introduction in 2005, these provisions have been little used. For example, in the two years from January 2014, the Central Arbitration Committee records only two substantive rulings on the Regulations.

The Taylor Review envisages giving this legislation a shot in the arm by widening the scope of the Regulations and lowering the threshold for triggering employee consultation arrangements. It proposes that workers as well as employees are included the headcount of 50 which must be reached before an employer is subject to these provisions. In addition, it proposes that just 2% (down from 10%) of this expanded workforce should be able to trigger the Regulations.

More transparency on workforce structure

Companies beyond a certain size would be required to report annually on the composition of their workforce. This would extend to disclosing their “model of employment” and use of agency services. They would be also required to report on the numbers of agency and zero-hours workers who had requested permanent positions or a consolidation of their hours.

Better and more flexible training

The Review says apprenticeships should be more widely accessible to atypical workers. It also suggests that while there are pockets of good practice, the Government should do more to develop a “consistent strategic approach” to employability and life-time learning. Among other things, its reach should be extended to atypical workers and there should be greater emphasis on re-training.

It also suggests taking a tough line on unpaid internships: if they offer anything of value the intern is likely to be entitled to the National Minimum Wage. The Government should ensure that “exploitative unpaid internships” are “stamped out”.

Conclusions

It is surprising that Taylor did not pass any comment on the proposals about employee representation in the boardroom that have been on the table since the end of last year. Many thought that these did not go far enough, and few would have expected that the Review would instead suggest a re-examination of the scope of the Information and Consultation Regulations.

Overall, the Review is at its most aspirational when considering employee engagement. However, this particular thread is best seen as complementing its more detailed and focused proposals on employment statusimproving the rights of gig economy workers and strengthening enforcement.

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