Possible Gig Economy Reforms Are Being Delayed Until Next Year

By Tom Pritchard on at

You don't have to try very hard to find some sort of business that relies on the gig economy, which uses technology to hook people up with small jobs without things like rigid working hours or employment contracts. Uber, Deliveroo, Hermes, and so on. Obviously this system treats the people involved as self-employed contractors, so they don't get any rights that are afforded to workers or employees.

The government had intended to announce some reforms by the end of the year, to ensure these people aren't being exploited by the businesses in question, but those plans have now been delayed. According to the Guardian this is because there are fears that increasing workers' rights might face backlash from some of the more right-wing members of the Conservative party.

Downing Street's adviser on modern work, Matthew Taylor, has recommended the reforms that would better define what constitutes a worker, and employee, and someone who is actually self employed. The reason being that workers and employees get certain rights, while self employed contractors don't get things like sick pay, paid holiday, or a guaranteed minimum wage.

Not only could it improve the working conditions of many gig economy workers, the new reforms might have been enough to stop the string of court cases against companies that refuses to categorise its staff as anything other than self-employed.

Theresa May promised to ensure worker rights during this year's election campaign, having hired Taylor last October to make it happen. He published his initial report on the matter in July, though the issue has been taken over by chancellor Phillip Hammond because it would affect peoples' national insurance contributions. Margot James, a Conservative MP and business minister, told Parliament that the government believes there is "too much bogus self-employment", but that the Treasury is concerned that any sort of action might affect the UK's employment rate. According to the Resolution Foundation self employment has accounted for 45 per cent of employment growth since 2008.

Naturally the companies who hire gig economy staff don't really want to have to be responsible for that extra expense, with one unnamed company telling The Guardian that redefining self-employed staff as workers would increase operating costs by 20 per cent.

So the gig economy workers hoping to one day be entitled to minimum wage (which is obviously a huuuuge ask, I say with heaps of sarcasm) will have to wait until next year to find out if their situation will change. It's not clear when, however, since all we have to go on is 'early'. [The Guardian]

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