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Our comments on the Taylor Review of modern working practices

12 July 2017

We believe that working can be good for our health – being engaged and absorbed in a good job can promote psychological wellbeing. But work is not a universally positive experience.

UK businesses should try to foster a sense of ‘workplace citizenship’ to give staff a bigger say suggests the Taylor Review published this week.

The report, by Matthew Taylor Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Arts who was commissioned by the Prime Minister last October to lead a review into modern work, also says that all work in the UK economy should be “fair and decent”.

The independent review has recommended the Government to -

  • change classifications of those who work for platform-based companies, such as Deliveroo and Uber, to dependent contractors
  • put strategies in place to make sure that workers do not get stuck on the National Living Wage
  • suggest a national strategy to provide good work for all "for which government needs to be held accountable"
  • avoid further increasing non-wage costs of employing an individual 

 Julie Freeborn, Chair of the BPS Division of Occupational Psychology, said:

“We are pleased that the Taylor’s review acknowledges the importance an individual’s job has on their health and wellbeing, and that developing a more proactive approach in the  workplace will benefit employers, workers and the general public.  The BPS believes that  working can be good for our health – being engaged and absorbed in a good job can promote psychological wellbeing. People who are employed have lower rates of psychological health problems.

But work is not a universally positive experience. Poorly designed jobs, work that is not organised well, job insecurity, difficult work environments, poorly trained managers and a lack of understanding of human behaviour in the workplace can create or exacerbate mental  health conditions. The Taylor report highlights the  importance of providing employees with good quality work that is fulfilling and has scope for development; whilst noting what is quality for one person will vary.  However, the lack of further protection around those  working in the gig economy is concerning as research says job insecurity is associated with a 50% increase the risk of a mental disorder.

Our forthcoming report ‘Psychology at work’ will demonstrate how policy makers, commissioners, practitioners and employers can apply relevant psychological theory, evidence and practice to design interventions that create strong employment relations where workers  are able to engage, be heard and feel valued.”

The BPS Psychology at work report will be available in October.

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