Matthew Taylor to lead independent review of employment practices in the modern economy - RSA

Matthew Taylor to lead independent review of employment practices in the modern economy

Press release 8 Comments

The Prime Minister has asked RSA Chief Executive Matthew Taylor to lead an independent review into how employment practices need to change in order to keep pace with modern business models.

The inquiry will consider the implications of new forms of work on employee rights and responsibilities - as well as on employer freedoms and obligations. The RSA has previously examined the rapidly-changing labour market in projects such as Fair Share and The Power of Small.

The wide-ranging review will look at ways to ensure that the regulatory framework surrounding employment, and the support provided to businesses and workers, is keeping pace with changes in the labour market and the economy. 

It will examine how flexibility can be maintained while also supporting job security and workplace rights, and whether new employment practices can be better used as an opportunity for underrepresented groups.

Commenting on his appointment, RSA Chief Executive Matthew Taylor said:

“It is very encouraging that the Prime Minister, in one of her first acts, has asked me to chair an independent review to look into how we can best respond to the rapidly changing world of work so it delivers for ordinary people.

“New forms of employment have many advantages for workers and consumers but there are challenges and risks. We need to approach this issue with an open mind recognising that within our flexible system of employment the same type of contract can have a diverse range of impacts on the people who use them.

“That the Prime Minister has chosen to prioritise the interests of the growing army of people working in new ways sends an important message. As well as getting to grips with the key trends and issues, I intend for the review team to get out and about across Britain hearing at first-hand how people’s experience of work affects their daily lives.”

Vikki Heywood, RSA Board of Trustees Chairman, said:

“As Chairman of the RSA Board of Trustees, I welcome Matthew’s role in leading the independent modern employment review.

“The decision to invite Matthew to chair the inquiry is a testament to the breadth and quality of the RSA’s research and impact in recent years on the future of work, self-employment and the platform economy. It also reflects the significant value placed in the RSA’s methodology, which prioritises analysis of the first hand experiences of people across the country.

“The pace in which employment is changing means an objective investigation into working lives is both timely and necessary.  I look forward to hearing its findings.”

Notes to Editors


Scope of the review

The review will address six key themes:

Security, pay and rights

  • To what extent do emerging business practices put pressure on the trade-off between flexible labour and benefits such as higher pay or greater work availability, so that workers lose out on all dimensions?  
  • To what extent does the growth in non-standard forms of employment undermine the reach of policies like the National Living Wage, maternity and paternity rights, pensions auto-enrolment, sick pay, and holiday pay?  

Progression and training

  • How can we facilitate and encourage professional development within the modern economy to the benefit of both employers and employees?

Finding the appropriate balance of rights and responsibilities for new business models

  • Do current definitions of employment status need to be updated to reflect new forms of working created by emerging business models, such as on-demand platforms?


  • Could we learn lessons from alternative forms of representation around the world, for example the Freelancers Union in New York which focuses on access to health insurance, or the California App Based Drivers Association which lobbies companies like Uber on behalf of drivers?

Opportunities for under-represented groups

  • How can we harness modern employment to create opportunities for groups currently underrepresented in the labour market (the elderly, those with disabilities or care responsibilities)?

New business models

  • How can government – nationally or locally – support a diverse ecology of business models enhancing the choices available to investors, consumers and workers?   


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  • Matthew, I am the immediate Past Chairman of the Association of Consulting Actuaries.  We have put forward ideas to the Work and Pensions Committee around how workers in the gig economy could be included in auto-enrolment for pensions.  This was followed up with oral evidence by myself to the committee on 1st March.  I would be happy to share thoughts with you.  David

  • The Welsh Government is working on a Code of Practice on Ethical Employment in Supply Chains, to which all organisations (public, private, third sectors) in receipt of public money directly or through grants or contracts will be expected to sign up.  It will have 12 commitments covering modern slavery, false self-employment, blacklisting, unfair use of umbrella employment schemes and zero hours contracts, and paying a living wage. The Code is accompanied by Guides helping organisations put the commitments into practice, and includes examples of questions to be included in tenders and model contract clauses. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss this work.

  • I was the COO of a gig economy business for 4 years and negotiated our position with our contractors and with HMRC. When we talked about our business with the press we talked about aggregate job value, but we successfully argued that our revenue was the commission we took from our 'providers'. We had a willing labour force, making no commitment to them on job availability or pay and offered no benefits. We expected our providers to step in and out of work as they liked. Most of our providers were immigrants looking for the quickest possible way to earn money and were not interested/not capable in registering as self employed, nor paying any taxes. I've had cause to reflect on this type of business and believe there should be some form of regulation; the company and the workers should contribute to the economy in order to benefit from the safety net services the UK offers. I'd be happy to share some ideas with you, Matthew.

  • Dear Matthew
    I would like to make an observation only on your editorial in the most recent RSA Journal. In it you talk about economic decline in that West and say that most people want a society that is more equal. This is classic liberal-left thinking. It is the thinking that failed to foresee Brexit and the Trump election. Are you really sure that most people want greater equality? If so, why do so many do the pools, hoping for millions? And why are tales of successful aspiration so popular? It is people like you who worry about equality. Most of us accept that people are not equal and just want to get on. That is not another way of saying that we are unconcerned about the poor. Poverty is a problem and needs to be addressed......but not by seeking equality. Look inside yourself and ask why you seek equality? Is it because you have some guilt about your own rise? That does not mean that others share you views.
    With regards
    Terence Bendixson

  • It is about time that the gig economy was analysed.  It has the potential to release workers from the tyranny of bad bosses, since the focus on outcomes should dominate depending on personal relationships.  

    I look forward to some innovative ideas from Matthew

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