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Thousands of “Gig economy” workers demand basic employment rights

Updated: Feb 16

According to a new survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, hundreds of thousands of workers in the so-called “gig economy” want employment rights such as holiday pay guaranteed by law and they believe that action should be taken by the Government to ensure this.

CIPD research indicates that well over a million people are now employed in casual part-time jobs that have no guaranteed hours or sick pay. Over sixty percent of those who answered the survey said that they believed the basic rights currently held by employees should be extended to them.

More than 50% said that they believed firms that operated in the gig economy such as Uber and Deliveroo were taking advantage of the lack of current regulation. Over 60% said that they did not feel as though they were their own boss.

The chief executive of the CIPD said the study indicated that many businesses were trying to have it all by using people who were supposedly self-employed and having a degree of control over them that was more suited to a traditional employer/employee relationship. The survey highlighted the grey area surrounding employment status and the gig economy.

He went on to say that many people currently working for companies as self-employed contractors are confused about what they are entitled to and may already have basic employment rights but just don’t realise it.

Current employment law divides people into three categories: employee, worker or fully self-employed, and each of these categories has different levels of rights.

2016 was marked by high-profile legal cases including Uber, Deliveroo and City Sprint in which self-employed people working for the companies took them to employment tribunals to gain access to better employment rights. In the Uber case, judges said the contract between drivers and passengers was wholly fictitious and bore no relation to the real relationship between the self-employed claimants and the company. In the Deliveroo case, it was decided that the claimants were workers, not contractors.

The Government has agreed to take a look at modern ways of working in order to decide whether changes should be made to employment legislation.

The report is due in Summer 2017.

rradar’s response

Josh Lee – Employment solicitor:

“Identifying a person’s employment status can be difficult for an employer and failing to do so correctly can result in an employer receiving a claim. An employed person has different employment rights from a worker or a self-employed person and the test to determine the correct status, and the subsequent employment rights the person has, can be difficult. I would always advise that our clients contact us to seek advice and ensure that they are complying with current employment law legislation.”

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