The hospitality industry has welcomed the government’s recognition of flexible working for both employers and employees following the publication of the Taylor Report into employment practices.
The report’s author, Matthew Taylor, said that all work in the UK’s economy should be “fair and decent” and that “fairness demands” that people, particularly those on lower incomes, had routes to progress in work.
Taylor told the BBC: “In my view there is too much work particularly at the bottom end of the labour market that is not of a high enough quality. There are too many people not having their rights fully respected. There are too many people at work who are treated like cogs in a machine rather than being human beings, and there are too many people who don’t see a route from their current job to progress and earn more and do better.”
He added that he did not want to ban zero hours contracts and that many people who worked on such contracts wanted to do so.
He also said that although he did not want to ban cash payments outright, he hoped that that there would be a shift away from cash-in-hand work over time.
Reacting to the news, Ufi Ibrahim, the chief executive of the British Hospitality Association which represents 46,000 businesses in hospitality and tourism, said: “We are pleased that the Taylor Review has recognised that zero hour contracts are welcomed by many workers as well as employers for their flexibility. The review talks of minimum wage increases for people on zero hour contracts. We believe any increase must be set by the Low Pay Commission having access to all the available facts and not by politicians.
“Taylor emphasises the goals of good work for all. Hospitality and tourism, the fourth largest UK industry employing 4.6 million people, is a force for social mobility and is a top six employer in each region. In the BHA’s 10-year strategy, the industry outlined its plans to encourage more UK workers to consider the industry as a career of choice, recognising the fantastic opportunities available to those who want to climb the career ladder. We are one of the few industries open to all and research shows that we have the ability to create over 500,000 jobs by 2022.”
Meanwhile, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) welcomed the government’s preference for avoiding additional legislation, but called on it to provide further guidance for employers.
ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The report recognises that many people will have more than one career in their working lifetimes and endorses the ambition that work should be ‘fair and decent with realistic scope for development and fulfilment.’ This is something that the sector delivers brilliantly: providing options for training and the emphasis on transferable skills across an incredibly varied and dynamic range of businesses.
“The report acknowledges the fact that responsible employment, rather than regulation, is the way forward. In particular, it is good to see the government recognising the value of flexible working for both employers and employees and not seeking to ban the use of such arrangements.
“In our discussion with members, and with the wider eating and drinking out sector, we have not seen any evidence of widespread misuse of contracts and flexible working. It is important that employers and employees still have the chance to benefit from a working arrangement that suits all parties. A measure that allows employees to request a guaranteed hours contract is fine, as long as the government’s approach is one of collaborative working, rather than naming and shaming of employers unable to provide guaranteed hours.
“What we need now from the government is engagement with employers to develop guidance and a code of practice to address concerns around contracts and recognition of good practice.
“The report also addresses the issue of employment costs and seeks to avoid any increases in the cost of employing people. While this is welcome, the possibility of a higher rate of National Minimum Wage for hours that are not guaranteed in a contract would increase costs for businesses and likely be a significant administrative hassle. Further reassurance from the government that employment costs are not going to increase for employers is essential at this uncertain time.”
However, Labour’s shadow business secretary claimed the report did not go far enough for the 4.5 million people in insecure work. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “From what we’ve seen, this review is not the game-changer needed to end insecurity and exploitation at work.” And Tim Roache, GMB general secretary, called it a “disappointing missed opportunity”.
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