News in Brief February 2017 FTSE firms should publish a breakdown of their workforce by race and pay band, says government-backed review A review led by Baroness McGregor-Smith looked into the issues faced by businesses in developing BME talent, covering responses from nearly 500 individuals and companies, including a raft of FTSE 100 firms. Evidence has shown that employment rates for people from BME backgrounds were 12 per cent lower than their white counterparts at 62.8 per cent, with just six per cent reaching top level management positions. They were also more likely to work in lower paid and lower skilled jobs despite being more likely to have a degree. The review wants large employers to publish a breakdown of their workforce by race and pay band and wants firms to produce a five-year diversity target and task a director with achieving it. Business groups have warned that a UK Government drive to promote the careers of black and minority ethnic groups could tie up SMEs in more red tape. Edwin Morgan, at the Institute of Directors, commented: “Encouraging companies to be more aware of diversity is no bad thing. If companies find reporting useful, then they should consider it, but we don't need another reporting requirement at the moment.” Plumber wins workers' rights battle against Pimlico Plumbers A plumber has won a legal battle for working rights in the latest court ruling over freelance work. The case is about the distinction between Mr Smith's status as either a self-employed contractor or a worker for the company. He was VAT-registered, and paying tax on a self-employed basis, but worked exclusively for Pimlico Plumbers for six years. After he suffered a heart attack in 2010, Mr Smith wanted to cut the five-day week to three. However, the firm refused and took away his branded van. He claims he was dismissed. He argued that he was entitled to basic workers' rights - which would include the national minimum wage and paid holiday and the ability to bring discrimination claims. The Court of Appeal agreed with a tribunal that said he was entitled to basic workers' rights although he was technically self-employed. The decision is the latest to side with workers in a flexible workforce. Charlie Mullins, founder of Pimlico Plumbers, says he wants to be involved in the government’s review of employment practices. He has requested a meeting with Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the RSA, who has been tasked with reviewing employment practices. ‘Gig economy’ firms admit their businesses would be compatible with ‘worker’ status law In a hearing before the Work and Pensions Select Committee, Amazon, Hermes, Uber and Deliveroo accepted that their businesses would remain viable even if they were forced to recognise their drivers as ‘workers’, entitled to sick pay, pensions and the minimum wage, rather than independent self-employed contractors without any of those rights. The government are currently considering a change in the law to give more of those working in the so-called ‘gig economy’ guaranteed access to these basic employment protections. The Tory MP James Cartlidge said that given the cost of pensions and benefits to the taxpayer, “the more that people are in this pseudo-employment, the more we all feel that the state is picking up the bill”. This echoes research by the Resolution Foundation which found that public finances would be losing £6bn a year by 2020 due to the shift in workers from employed to self-employed status, meaning they do not pay the employers’ portion of national insurance. Self-employment in the UK has already risen by about 1 million people since 2009, in contrast to most OECD countries where the share of the workforce in self-employment has been flat or falling over the past decade.