The ‘gig economy’ is the latest hot topic in the employment world. This is where individuals are engaged on a flexible and ad hoc basis as independent contractors and is popular for taxi drivers, food delivery drivers, cycle couriers, lorry drivers, plumbers and interpreters.
Various companies such as Uber, City Sprint and Pimlico Plumbers have recently faced claims on the employment status of their independent contractors. There has also just been a recent Employment Tribunal case (25 July 2017) against Cycle Courier, Addison Lee, made by one of their couriers (Mr Gascoigne). It was found that although described as an independent contractor, Mr Gascoigne was a worker and entitled to holiday pay.
It is estimated that there are over 5 million people employed in this type of capacity in the UK.
The report details
A review was launched into the gig economy by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (“BEIS”) to consider employment practice in the modern economy. This was led by Matthew Taylor and his report was published on 11 July 2017. There are a number of recommendations designed to improve the working conditions of a-typical workers / individuals working in the gig economy.
The report suggests amongst other things that:
- Employment status needs to be clarified for individuals and employers.
- Independent contractors should be entitled to a Written Statement of Terms in the same way as employees.
- That the Government should make available a new free online tool for determining employment status.
- That the National Minimum Wage rules be adapted so that workers would be entitled to a piece rate for platform work.
- That the Low Pay Commission should be tasked with examining how a higher NMW rate might apply to non-guaranteed hours.
- Reform holiday pay entitlements to make it easier for people to receive their entitlements in real time as well as extending the pay reference period from 12 weeks to 52 weeks.
- SSP should be available to workers.
- Develop legislation that allows agency workers and those on zero hours contracts to have the ability to request to formalise the reality of the working relationship.
The recommendations of the report will need further evaluation and there is an expectation that consultations will be published in Autumn 2017.
A copy of the report can be read at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/good-work-the-taylor-review-of-modern-working-practices
The report summarises seven steps towards fair and decent work on pages 110 and 111.
Given that the Queen’s speech stated that the Government is seeking to enhance rights and protections in the modern workplace, then it is likely following consultation that we will expect to see some legislation in this area.