UK government proposals on gig economy rights don't go far enough, warn unions UK government proposals on gig economy rights don't go far enough, warn unions

UK government proposals on gig economy rights don't go far enough, warn unions
08 Feb 2018

Unions have expressed disappointment with the UK government’s Good Work Plan, its long-awaited response to the Taylor Review, saying that it does not go far enough.

The Plan recommends making changes that are intended to increase the rights of the country’s 1.8 gig workers in order to reflect “modern working practices”. They include:

  • Providing all workers with holiday and sick pay rights from day one;
  • Giving flexible workers the right to request more stable contracts; 
  • Enabling all workers to demand a payslip; 
  • Defining “working time” for flexible workers who find jobs online or via apps so they know when they should be paid; 
  • Launching a new campaign to encourage more working parents to share childcare through shared parental leave policies, a right introduced in 2015;
  • Quadrupling employment tribunal fines for aggravated disobedience up to £25,000 (US$34,689). 

The Low Pay Commission will also be asked to consider a higher minimum wage for gig economy workers and the government is proposing to undertake a review of any legislation that allows agency workers to be paid at low rates.

The Plan also sets out an intention to move forward with 52 of the 53 recommendations made in the Taylor Review, but with only four consultations launched any real change is likely to be some way off. For example, while the consultation on employment status could result in some tinkering with the current stance, because the aim is to retain the existing three tier approach – employee, worker, self-employed - significant change seems unlikely.

As a result, union umbrella organisation, the TUC has already revealed its disappointment at what it sees as proposals that fall short of what is required to affect real change. Others are likely to see it as a lost opportunity.

But for now, gig economy “employers” would be advised to make contingencies against having to pay holiday and sick pay rights and to rethink their business model as plans to increase labour costs for this group of workers are afoot.

Whether this means such employers will move to put their workers onto permanent rather than zero hours contracts for economic reasons, or continue to treat them as self-employed and risk claims, remains to be seen. What is certain is that 1.8 million people will expect to see improvements in their working rights imminently as the light - albeit a dim one - has now been switched on at the end of the gig economy tunnel.

Emma Bartlett is a partner at Charles Russell Speechlys LLP. She advises on all aspects of employment law and has particular expertise in dispute resolution and litigation, notably discrimination, whistleblowing and trade union issues. With a strong record in negotiating and resolving complex employment disputes, Emma is considered a skilled deal broker.

 

Unions have expressed disappointment with the UK government’s Good Work Plan, its long-awaited response to the Taylor Review, saying that it does not go far enough.

The Plan recommends making changes that are intended to increase the rights of the country’s 1.8 gig workers in order to reflect “modern working practices”. They include:

  • Providing all workers with holiday and sick pay rights from day one;
  • Giving flexible workers the right to request more stable contracts; 
  • Enabling all workers to demand a payslip; 
  • Defining “working time” for flexible workers who find jobs online or via apps so they know when they should be paid; 
  • Launching a new campaign to encourage more working parents to share childcare through shared parental leave policies, a right introduced in 2015;
  • Quadrupling employment tribunal fines for aggravated disobedience up to £25,000 (US$34,689). 

The Low Pay Commission will also be asked to consider a higher minimum wage for gig economy workers and the government is proposing to undertake a review of any legislation that allows agency workers to be paid at low rates.

The Plan also sets out an intention to move forward with 52 of the 53 recommendations made in the Taylor Review, but with only four consultations launched any real change is likely to be some way off. For example, while the consultation on employment status could result in some tinkering with the current stance, because the aim is to retain the existing three tier approach – employee, worker, self-employed - significant change seems unlikely.

As a result, union umbrella organisation, the TUC has already revealed its disappointment at what it sees as proposals that fall short of what is required to affect real change. Others are likely to see it as a lost opportunity.

But for now, gig economy “employers” would be advised to make contingencies against having to pay holiday and sick pay rights and to rethink their business model as plans to increase labour costs for this group of workers are afoot.

Whether this means such employers will move to put their workers onto permanent rather than zero hours contracts for economic reasons, or continue to treat them as self-employed and risk claims, remains to be seen. What is certain is that 1.8 million people will expect to see improvements in their working rights imminently as the light - albeit a dim one - has now been switched on at the end of the gig economy tunnel.

Emma Bartlett is a partner at Charles Russell Speechlys LLP. She advises on all aspects of employment law and has particular expertise in dispute resolution and litigation, notably discrimination, whistleblowing and trade union issues. With a strong record in negotiating and resolving complex employment disputes, Emma is considered a skilled deal broker.

 

Leave a Reply

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing