Gig economy workers and low paid set to get extra rights

The Taylor review, set up by the Government to investigate working practices and the ‘gig economy’, has now reported back to business secretary Greg Clark, with the promise that many of the recommendations will be taken forward and some expanded upon. The review was set up following significant employment cases involving major employers in the gig economy, which suggested their zero hours workers and temporary staff could be considered as employees.

Most assume ‘gig workers’ to be in stereotypically low skilled jobs but only 26% are employed in delivery/courier services or unskilled manual labour roles. The extent of the gig economy includes 18% in skilled manual work and 28% in consultancy and professional services, roles that one may not immediately associate with attracting unsecured workers.

Of the recommendations put forward, the Government will be focussing on securing the rights of vulnerable workers and giving them greater parity with their full time employed counterparts. Some of the measures being proposed may seem rather obvious, but for many sick pay and holiday pay do not form part of the hourly or job/task specific rate they are paid. Many do not receive formal payslips recording their income and tax deductions and very few have the benefit of detailed contracts of employment, leaving them at risk of exploitation.

Despite the positive sounds resulting from the release of the Taylor Review, which will enhance the rights of the 1.1million workers in the so called ‘gig economy’, Unions are saying that the recommendations and promises don’t go far enough and will still leave a further 1.8 million workers without adequate protection.

Whilst the Taylor Review has been endorsed by the Government and they look set to bring many of the recommendations forward in law, at present there is only a promise to do so and there will need to be a period of consultation and implementation before changes happen. The Government will be very aware that the growth in the overall economy and drop in unemployment levels in recent years will have been, in part, due to the growth of the gig economy and the use of unsecured workers. So it will be equally aware that the proposed changes will have a financial impact on businesses and could stifle important economic growth.