Workforce news podcast - November 2017

We look at the Taylor Review of Modern Employment Practices. One of the original members of the Taylor Review panel, Paul Broadbent from the Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority, and Emma Stewart, joint-CEO of Timewise, join us to talk about the issues for local government arising from the report.


To contact the Workforce Team about any comments and ideas email: workforce@local.gov.uk.

 

Transcript

Luann Donald – Senior Workforce Advisor, LGA (00.00.14-00.01.06)

Hi in today’s podcast we’re going to look at the Taylor Review of Modern Employment practices.   The Report basically focuses on what security looks like for flexible workers.  As you know we rely very heavily in Local Government on flexible workers.  So we’re going to look at what the Report’s recommendations might mean for us and how Councils are employing flexible workers.  So joining us today we’ve got Claire Kober.  She’s the Leader of Haringey Council and she’s also the Chair of the Resources Board here at LGA.  Also we have Emma Stewart.  She’s from Timewise and they promote flexible working for Employers and the LGA’s Phil Bundy will be here and we’re going to look in some detail at the Report’s recommendations with them but first we have Paul Broadbent with us and he was one of the four original panel members of the Review.  Paul thank you for joining us, can you tell us firstly what were the aims in setting up the Review?

Paul Broadbent – Taylor Review Expert Panel Member and Chief Executive GLAA (00.01.06-00.01.37)

Yes we were asked by the Prime Minister headed by a team with Matthew Taylor to look at what constitutes across the UK fair and decent work.  So what are the key components that can provide that platform and what are the key inhibitors that may prevent it.  So through going around the country talking to lots of different people from lots of different walks of life we established, wrote down and submitted our recommendations for making sure that people have the ability to be provided with a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

Luann Donald – Senior Workforce Advisor, LGA (00.01.38-00.01.42)

So what were your main findings and were there any surprises in there that you came across?

Paul Broadbent – Taylor Review Expert Panel Member and Chief Executive GLAA (00.01.43-00.02.40)

There were a number of findings.  Not many surprises frankly but two of the main findings were about what constitutes good tax system that we can all understand.  I’ll be quite honest there are parts of the tax system that I uncovered during the review that I struggled to get my head round.  So for a worker, certainly a temporary worker coming, in how much do they need to know, how much do they want to know and how can they be represented either by another body or the Employer.  The second issue was around making sure that the designation of a worker is clearly understood by the worker themselves, are they a Contractors, are they self-employed, are they an Agency worker and being able to document something that’s easily understandable from day one for that particular person to know what their relationship with their Employer actually is.

Luann Donald – Senior Workforce Advisor, LGA (00.02.41-00.02.47)

And of course we are particularly interested to hear if there are any thoughts you have for Local Government to note from the Review.

Paul Broadbent – Taylor Review Expert Panel Member and Chief Executive GLAA (00.02.48-00.03.18)

Yes one of the issues for Local Government and having been in the public sector myself for 30 plus years is the fact that what I’ve done and what I’ve seen is a number of tasks outsourced to private Companies.  Now the problem could be with that is do we fully understand, as the outsources, do we understand the nature of the Employment Contract that those outsourced businesses have with those Employees who actually work on our Estates.

Luann Donald – Senior Workforce Advisor, LGA (00.03.19-00.03.21)

And finally Paul what’s next for the Review?

Paul Broadbent – Taylor Review Expert Panel Member and Chief Executive GLAA (00.03.22-00.03.49)

I’m really optimistic about the fact that this Report isn’t one that will be thanked and then sat on a shelf gathering dust but will be one that has a number of well researched, well thought through recommendations that are affordable, that are workable and they can be pushed through into mainstream employment practices to make sure that we as a society are offering and maintaining fair and decent work for all.

Luann Donald – Senior Workforce Advisor, LGA (00.03.50-00.04.02)

Thank you very much Paul and now we’re going to speak to Councillor Claire Kober.  She’s the Leader at Haringey Council.  Claire can you tell us why are we interested in the Taylor Report at the LGA?

Claire Kober – Leader, Haringey Council and Chair, LGA Resources Board (00.04.03-00.04.45)

So I think the LGA is interested in the Taylor Review for two principle reasons.  Firstly as Local Councils we’re significant Employers.  In many cases we’re the biggest Employer in a local area but more than that in our role where we care about place and we care about people and communities we have to care about what employment means to those communities that we serve.  So if I look at my own Borough I know that we have a situation locally where we’ve seen in the last five years a doubling of the number of people in our community who earn less than the London living wage and that is something which is a real concern to me because I think it impacts on their living standards and on the living standards of their families.

Luann Donald – Senior Workforce Advisor, LGA (00.04.45-00.04.49)

So Claire why is the issue of fair flexible working important to Councils?

Claire Kober – Leader, Haringey Council and Chair, LGA Resources Board (00.04.50-00.05.12)

So this is really important for Councils because we provide a range of services and we all want to provide the best possible services for our local communities.  If we want to employ the best and do the best then we need to be at the forefront of good employment practice and I think the Taylor Review reminds us of that at a really timely juncture.

Luann Donald – Senior Workforce Advisor, LGA (00.05.13-00.05.15)

So how can we take the Review forward?

Claire Kober – Leader, Haringey Council and Chair, LGA Resources Board (00.05.15-00.05.46)

Look we can see that there’s already a great deal of legislation.  Much of that is complex and the question that I would ask is whether we would want to take a legislative approach or whether it would be more beneficial to think about the sort of guidance that’s already in place.  How that might be developed.  How Employers, Councils as Employers might be incentivised.  I’d be really keen to open up a dialogue with Government about what that guidance might look like. How we could take it forward and ensure that as a sector we’re at the cutting edge of good employment practice and innovation.

Luann Donald – Senior Workforce Advisor, LGA (00.05.47-00.06.21)

Thank you very much Claire.  As you know in Local Government we rely very heavily on many different forms of flexible working.  So we’re going to have a look in some detail about what the recommendations might mean for us here and we’ve got Emma Stewart from Timewise and the LGA’s Phil Bundy to talk us through what that flexibility looks like in Councils and what the implications are.  So Emma we heard from Claire that we’re very supportive of the Taylor Review and this fair conditions and good work and all of that and this is pretty much what Timewise is all about.  This is what you promote isn’t it?

Emma Stewart – Co-founder & Joint CEO, Timewise (00.06.21-00.07.29)

Absolutely, so Timewise works to help organisations to get better at flexibility and we do that to help organisations to attract, retain, progress best talent but also so that individuals who need to work in a non-nine to five way are able to find the flexibility they need in work and progress in work.  I think for us Taylor was a bit of a landmark.  It’s been very interesting.  I think what he highlighted is there is a need to make flexible work better.  Where flexible and part time work is currently quite low paid and challenging for many people but also to make good work more flexible and for us that’s a really big interesting area.  I think the challenge though is how do you do that and inherent in that is a need to make sure, as he highlighted, that flexibility works both for the organisation and for the individual and for Local Authorities that we’ve been working with I think there’s a real recognition. They are really grappling with this issue right now and many of whom we are starting to support have recognised the need to go from a flexible working policy to a flexible working strategy and that’s the key shift.

Luann Donald – Senior Workforce Advisor, LGA (00.07.30-00.07.42)

Emma you mentioned there some work with Local Authorities.  Now we’ve been working in partnership for a while now with the LGA and Timewise to help Councils build in more flexibility.  Can you give us a bit more detail of some examples of how that’s working?

Emma Stewart – Co-founder & Joint CEO, Timewise (00.07.42-00.09.29)

Absolutely, so for the last couple of years as you know we’ve been working with a view to support Local Authorities to really try and take a different approach to flexibility for the benefit of their organisations and the people that work for them and there are three sort of commonalities about what Councils are doing in this space.  The first is leadership.  So for example Camden Council have made a real commitment at the leadership level both members and Exec teams to champion the need to think better about flexibility, to be a more flexible organisation, to have a real strategy and a vision around flexibility.  The second area is helping Managers to understand if you need to create a better flexible working environment and you want to that you have to understand what the concept of flexible job design means.  How do you design roles to be more flexible?  So rather than just saying ‘fine you can work at home one day a week’ or ‘yes you’ve asked for four days not five’, what impact does that have on a job.  So for example we’ve been working with Hackney Council who are looking at how they can proactively understand how to split roles, carve roles, design roles to be job shares specifically to enable disabled people to start to come into the organisation and to enable them to be a more inclusive Employer.  The third area is around communication.  So we touched on leadership but the key thing for many of the Local Authorities we work with is about how to have a competitive advantage on talent.  How to be future fit and how to attract great people to work for them because we all know it’s a challenging climate right now.  That means communicating that you’re open to a flexible working approach at the point of hire.  So not just waiting for people to come and apply and work for you and have to work full time and then negotiate but saying we will have that conversation with you as a candidate as well as an Employee and we are open to being proactive about that.

Luann Donald – Senior Workforce Advisor, LGA (00.09.30-00.09.41)

Emma one of the key concerns of the Taylor Review are the terms and conditions that are being offered that go along with this flexibility.  Can you tell us have you seen Councils changing their terms and conditions along with this flexibility?

Emma Stewart – Co-founder & Joint CEO, Timewise (00.09.41-00.10.38)

It’s an interesting question.  I guess our view at Timewise is yes we are seeing Councils changing some terms and conditions but I think the key issue is less about the rules and it’s more about the guidance that you give to Managers and to organisations to create a culture where you can have honest and open conversations about flexible working.  So there are some examples.  So we are seeing some Councils getting rid of flexi-time which is very prescriptive clearly on clocking in and clocking out and doesn’t lend to an output based working practice.  I’m not fudging my answer but I think what I’m say is actually get the culture right.  Support Managers, have those conversations, be informal and test and try new ways of working flexibly and absolutely have your policies in place and then you can start to drive the change you need.  Now that’s very different from clearly some of the issues that Taylor has focused on in his Review but culture’s really, really important.

Luann Donald – Senior Workforce Advisor, LGA (00.10.38-00.10.47)

Phil we talked with Emma about the terms and conditions that go along with the flexible working and it’s a really complex bit of Employment law but what’s the big issue around all of this?

Philip Bundy – Senior Employment Law Adviser (00.10.48-00.11.29)

Well I think the big issue is you’ve got all three core ways that people are engaged.  You’ve got those Employees that are genuine Employees.  You’ve got this sort of category of workers and then you’ve got the self-employed and all have got different rights attached to them.  So where it’s not clear what category someone falls into you’ve got a potential for a dispute as you’ve seen with the Uber driver cases.  Now in Local Government I think we’ve always tried to manage things better and be clearer about stuff but as we’ve heard from Emma you know with more flexible working it’s really important that we are clear and what we don’t want coming out of the Taylor Review is sort of tinkering with the law that creates anymore confusion.  What we want is sort of things that give us clarity so that the law doesn’t become an obstacle to employing people flexibly.

Luann Donald – Senior Workforce Advisor, LGA (00.11.30-00.11.34)

So Phil are there any bigger issues for us coming out of the Taylor Review recommendations?

Philip Bundy – Senior Employment Law Adviser (00.11.34-00.13.03)

Well I think when we say bigger issues and I would say this as a lawyer, a lot of it’s the sort of technical stuff that’s underneath a lot of it and there are three particular proposals in there that we will want to keep an eye on.  There’s one there that says for essentially people that aren’t on guaranteed hours contracts, what are normally called zero hours contracts, that should maybe have a higher minimum wage rate.  Now that may seem sensible in many ways but if we’re using zero hour contracts appropriately then is that the right way forward for them.  The second issue is they’re saying they’re going to look at the Swedish derogation.  Now that sounds terribly exotic but it’s actually just something in the Agency worker Regs that says if someone’s paid in between assignments at a set rate then they may not have to be paid as much when they’re working for the hirer directly.  So that could increase potentially the cost of Agency work and is that always going to be right.  Then the last thing is a proposal where they say well continuity of employment might be preserved if someone leaves employment and comes back within one month.  At the moment it’s a week.  Now if you’re going to extend it to a month then you’re looking at potentially people preserving continuity and all the rights that go with that including redundancy and to end on a real sort of techy Local Government point we’ve got the Modification Order which preserves service when people move from bodies on that Order.  So say from a Local Authority to an Academy or vice versa.  So if they are going to take this one month period further we need to sort of make sure we keep an eye on how that feeds into our own Local Government Modification Order.

Luann Donald – Senior Workforce Advisor, LGA (00.13.04-00.13.28)

Emma and Phil thank you very much that was really useful.  I think you’ll agree a fascinating topic and I think it’ll be around for a while but we will bring you up to date with any developments on the recommendations coming out of the Taylor Review.  Look out on our website for any updates there and of course if you have any comments or any thoughts that you would like to give us on today’s topic you can contact us on our normal e-mail address which is workforce@local.gov.uk.