Parliamentary Groups Want to Guarantee More Rights for Gig Economy Workers

By Tom Pritchard on at

The gig economy has been growing massively over the past few years, with the likes of Uber, Deliveroo, and others gaining popularity. There's always been the issue of workers' rights however. Gig economy platforms insist that its staff are self-employed contractors and not entitled to the benefits they'd get if they were classified as workers. Now two parliamentary groups have called on the government to put a stop to this.

Last year two Uber drivers won a tribunal case demanding to be classified as 'workers' rather than self-employed contractors, and while Uber has been appealing that decision it has yet to succeed. The  Pensions Committee and the Business Select Committee have published a report asking that all gig economy workers be classified as workers, so that they're entitled to basic things like minimum wage, holiday pay, and protection from discrimination.

Being a worker isn't the same as being an employee, however, which is another category that entitles people to sick pay, notice periods, and protection against unfair dismissal. Worker is more of a middle ground, though both committees would also like the distinction to be much clearer so that everyone knows how the rules apply.

Companies like Uber and Deliveroo automatically draft contracts that treat people as self employed, making it the responsibility of the person (or people) involved to take the companies to court over their working status. The two companies want this loophole to be closed, since they're of the impression that companies categorise staff as self-employed to unfairly keep labour costs down.

Both committees have also asked that the government to tackle the "volatile availability" of gig economy work, noting how staff are not guaranteed any deliveries when they log into the app. So they want a 'wage premium' for hours when work is not guaranteed, along with encouraging these companies to provide staff rotas and shift details. It's not clear how that would work, since a lot of gig economy work is based on people's needs at any given time - needs that can't really be predicted.

Finally, they both want more resources to be given to enforcement agencies, increasing their power so they can both fine and 'name and shame' any companies that break the law. [Parliament via Engadget]

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