Pressure mounts on UK Government to regulate gig economy Pressure mounts on UK Government to regulate gig economy

Pressure mounts on UK Government to regulate gig economy
05 Jul 2018

Pressure is growing on the UK Government to regulate 'gig economy' employment, after a Leeds Employment Tribunal found that Hermes couriers were employees rather than self-employed.

Another hearing will now take place to decide how much the company's couriers are due in holiday pay and backpay relating to the national minimum wage, and whether they can claim back any unlawful deductions.

Trade union GMB, which helped bring the case, hailed the decision as a “landmark legal victory”, with general secretary Tim Roache describing the gig economy as “old-fashioned exploitation under a shiny new façade”.

A Hermes spokesperson told People Management that the company would consider the decision carefully but was unlikely to launch an appeal.

The decision comes as the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) looks for views on whether self-employed individuals operating in the gig economy and using online platforms such as Uber would prefer these organisations to take some responsibility. 

Paul Morton, the OTS’s tax director, told Bloomberg Tax: "We’re interested at the moment in how someone in the gig economy works using a digital platform — the taxi driver, the courier, or the health worker, whoever they may be. We think that a lot of these individuals might think of themselves in the same way as someone who’s employed, and that they might be quite happy for somebody else to take care of their tax payments for them."

But with an increasing number of tribunals determining that gig economy workers are effectively employees, there is increasing pressure for action to be taken sooner rather than later.

Hina Belitz, specialist employment lawyer at Excello Law, said: "It is now the role of the government to take long-overdue action to provide clarity to both employers and employees operating within the gig economy."

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

Pressure is growing on the UK Government to regulate 'gig economy' employment, after a Leeds Employment Tribunal found that Hermes couriers were employees rather than self-employed.

Another hearing will now take place to decide how much the company's couriers are due in holiday pay and backpay relating to the national minimum wage, and whether they can claim back any unlawful deductions.

Trade union GMB, which helped bring the case, hailed the decision as a “landmark legal victory”, with general secretary Tim Roache describing the gig economy as “old-fashioned exploitation under a shiny new façade”.

A Hermes spokesperson told People Management that the company would consider the decision carefully but was unlikely to launch an appeal.

The decision comes as the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) looks for views on whether self-employed individuals operating in the gig economy and using online platforms such as Uber would prefer these organisations to take some responsibility. 

Paul Morton, the OTS’s tax director, told Bloomberg Tax: "We’re interested at the moment in how someone in the gig economy works using a digital platform — the taxi driver, the courier, or the health worker, whoever they may be. We think that a lot of these individuals might think of themselves in the same way as someone who’s employed, and that they might be quite happy for somebody else to take care of their tax payments for them."

But with an increasing number of tribunals determining that gig economy workers are effectively employees, there is increasing pressure for action to be taken sooner rather than later.

Hina Belitz, specialist employment lawyer at Excello Law, said: "It is now the role of the government to take long-overdue action to provide clarity to both employers and employees operating within the gig economy."

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

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