Mathew Taylor has praised McDonald’s and Adnams for their approaches to flexible working as he finally unveiled his review of modern working practices.

Taylor called for greater flexibility in the workforce and, while declining to clamp down on zero hours contracts, urged employers not to rely on them.

While images of Deliveroo riders have illustrated most press coverage in the run-up to publication, the report only mentions the firm once.

Meanwhile, Taylor uses McDonald’s as a case study, based on the company’s offer in April to 115,000 workers on zero hours contracts to move to a fixed agreement with a minimum number of hours guaranteed. The company found that about 80% of workers in the trial chose to remain on flexible contracts and it reported an increase in levels of employee and customer satisfaction after the offer. Staff were offered contracts in line with the average hours per week they worked. This included contracts of four, eight, 16, 30 or 35 hours a week. They initially offered these fixed hour contracts to 50 more restaurants, but plan to roll it out nationwide to existing and new employees later this year.

He said: “Choice is good both for individuals and businesses. However, those employers who decide to demand more insecure forms of work from large sections of their workforce should consider the impact this may be having. Individuals deserve the opportunity to plan for the future and where they commit to regular work, employers who can, should be obliged to reciprocate.”

Brewer and pub operator Adnams is cited because of it previously used zero-hour contracts to accommodate the seasonal nature of the business. However, the report says that through involvement in the Beyond Pay inquiry, it recognised how this contributed to employees experiencing “in-work poverty” and moved all existing staff onto contracts that guaranteed a minimum number of hours a week. To tackle low pay, the group reduced and redistributed bonuses paid to their senior team.

ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls welcomed the Government’s preference for avoiding additional legislation, but called on it to provide further guidance for employers.

She 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.”

The report concludes with ‘seven steps towards fair and decent work with realistic scope for development and fulfilment’:

“1. Our national strategy for work – the British way – should be explicitly directed toward the goal of good work for all, recognising 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 all need to take responsibility.

A) The same basic principles should apply to all forms of employment in the British economy – there should be a fair balance of rights and responsibilities, everyone should have a baseline of protection and there should be routes to enable progression at work.

B) Over the long term, in the interests of innovation, fair competition and sound public finances we need to make the taxation of labour more consistent across employment form while at the same time improving the rights and entitlements of self-employed people.

C) Technological change will impact work and types of employment and we need to be able to adapt, but technology can also offer new opportunities for smarter regulation, more flexible entitlements and new ways for people to organise.

2. Platform based working offers welcome opportunities for genuine two way flexibility and can provide opportunities for those who may not be able to work in more conventional ways. These should be protected while ensuring fairness for those who work through these platforms and those who compete with them. Worker (or ‘Dependent Contractor’ as we suggest renaming it) status should be maintained but we should be clearer about how to distinguish workers from those who are legitimately self-employed.

3. The law and the way it is promulgated and enforced should help firms make the right choices and individuals to know and exercise their rights. Although there are some things that can be done to improve working practices for employees, the ‘employment wedge’ (the additional, largely non-wage, costs associated with taking someone on as an employee) is already high and we should avoid increasing it further. ‘Dependent contractors’ are the group most likely to suffer from unfair one-sided flexibility and therefore we need to provide additional protections for this group and stronger incentives for firms to treat them fairly.

4. The best way to achieve better work is not national regulation but responsible corporate governance, good management and strong employment relations within the organisation, which is why it is important that companies are seen to take good work seriously and are open about their practices and that all workers are able to be engaged and heard.

5. It is vital to individuals and the health of our economy that everyone feels they have realistically attainable ways to strengthen their future work prospects and that they can, from the beginning to the end of their working life, record and enhance the capabilities developed in formal and informal learning and in on the job and off the job activities.

6. The shape and content of work and individual health and well-being are strongly related. For the benefit for firms, workers and the public interest we need to develop a more proactive approach to workplace health.

7. The National Living Wage is a powerful tool to raise the financial base line of low paid workers. It needs to be accompanied by sectoral strategies engaging employers, employees and stakeholders to ensure that people – particularly in low paid sectors – are not stuck at the living wage minimum or facing insecurity but can progress in their current and future work.