In defence of the Taylor review

By Liam Booth-Smith | 19 July 2017

I wanted to dislike the Taylor review. All that earnestness, the wispy recommendations and caveats. Who wouldn’t want their job to be fair and decent, or be treated with respect by an employer? However, against my contrarian impulse, I liked it.

Good work matters because it improves our physical and mental health. It creates a more productive economy. It offers people dignity and self-respect. Taylor and his fellow commissioners captured this and for a 100 plus page document did so with relatively unfussy prose.

In particular, the review did two interesting things.

First, it reframed work as something you shouldn’t reduce down to a salary. There are more reasons to, and benefits from work, than the money you make. Charles Murray’s excellent book, Coming Apart, paints a picture of a happy and successful elite whose work is in part their hobby. The professional and personal are mixed. The flexibility they enjoy, salaries they earn and skills they possess mean, to parse Taylor’s own words, their work is good. This blurring of home and office is happening for nearly all of us. Longer working hours, developments in technology and the growing reach of social media mean that even when we are away from the office, we are never disconnected.

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