The Government's Revealed How It'll Boost Rights for Gig Economy Workers

By Tom Pritchard on at

The issue over the rights of workers in the gig economy have been disputed for some time, with the companies themselves insisting that workers are self-employed contractors and not entitled to rights like holiday pay or sick leave. The workers themselves, along with other organisations have issues with this for a long list of compelling reasons.

The government has been mulling over the situation for a while, and has now announced a new 'good work plan' for what it classifies as vulnerable workers (ie people on low wages) and ensure that they get basic rights afforded by people with employment contract.

Those "day one rights" include the right to a pay slip, holiday and sick pay, and while primarily designed for agency workers or those on zero-hour contracts there's a good chance it could affect people working as Uber drivers, Deliveroo couriers, or any other similar 'flexible' jobs.

Other rights include the right to request more stable working hours, and measures to ensure new and expecting mothers will also be made more aware of their working rights. The government also plans to more clearly define what working hours are for anyone working through an app or online, and ensure they understand exactly what they are entitled to.

On top of this the government will be naming and shaming any dodgy companies that fall foul of the new rules, and fail to pay out in employment tribunal cases. Employers who show "malice, spite, or gross oversight" will have their fines quadrupled to £20,000, though the government is considering higher fines for repeat offenders.

These new plans come in response to an independent review from Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts. Taylor has argued that the UK clearly define what rights gig economy workers have, while maintaining the flexibility of that type of work. The companies themselves, especially Uber, have argued that adding extra rights like national minimum wage would require it to do away with the flexibility - which, personally, has always sounded like a threat.

The reforms are currently lacking detail right now, and it's not clear when they'll be crafted into legislation. It certainly doesn't help that the government has announced four consultations on employment status, enforcement of employment rights, and "measures to increase transparency in the UK labour market."

Still it's probably better than nothing, and might even encourage gig economy employers to implement some of these changes before they become law. [Engadget]


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