With the recent launch of the Taylor Review, the independent report on modern employment practices, the concept of “good work for all” enters the lexicon of business language for the foreseeable future. What this amounts to is the recognition that good work and plentiful work can and should go together. Good work is something for which Government needs to be held accountable but for which we should all take responsibility. Businesses throughout the land are unlikely to disagree with any of these sentiments, however, what impact will the Taylor Review have on financial professionals and businesses within the sector?
While the headlines have focused on the so called “gig economy”, and low skilled workers, for businesses, on the face of it there may be minimal impact. But there are some points worth pulling out that merit further attention. In one of the seven guiding principles for fair and decent work, the Taylor Review suggests that, organisations should take a more proactive approach towards workplace health, given that “the shape and content of work and individual health and wellbeing are strongly related”. This is interesting in the context of financial professionals, many of whom are used to working to deadlines and certainly as the year end approaches, under a certain amount of duress. The physical and emotional side effects of not dealing with the stress are well-known and employers should, as the Review suggests, take a proactive approach to managing anxiety levels, while doing everything they can to encourage employees to manage their own physical and emotional well-being.
Another of the guiding principles within the Review is that everyone should feel they have “realistically attainable ways to strengthen their future work prospects”, whether through formal learning or “on-the-job activities”. Training and development opportunities within the accountancy profession is an area I have touched on elsewhere, however, it remains a key driver in the way in which professionals are trained as many, but not all, aim for chartered status. The fact that there are so many different opportunities on offer means that businesses which employ in-house financial specialists should have a clear route to engaging with their employees and offering them the full suite of training opportunities, and ultimately enabling them to fulfil their professional capabilities.
The Taylor Review says that “worker status should be renamed dependent contractor status and it should be made easier to distinguish between these individuals and those who are genuinely self-employed.” Putting aside the examples of Uber and Deliveroo, as far as accountants are concerned, the focus for many in this area is on well paid, highly-skilled professionals, who have chosen the contracting route rather than being a salaried employee. According to recent research from Contractor Calculator “80% of self-employed high-end professionals, such as accountants, do not want rights or benefits so do not need any more onerous legislation that reduces the flexibility of the whole market simply to protect one sub-section”. For many financial professionals, their route to self-employment continues unabated, however, there may be barriers to this particular brand of employment, further down the line. Finally, the Taylor Review concludes that "Everyone with an interest in a resilient and productive labour market has a role in ensuring better quality work. Government must play its role, but so must employers, business groups, trade unions, sector experts and others with particular knowledge and experience to deliver an economy based on a foundation of quality work." While this may not equate to a seismic revolution for accountants, there are some overriding principles that employers and professionals alike, must be both aware of, and take note of.
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