A government review of the work environment is calling upon a change in the law to enable more rights for the self-employed.
Emma O’Leary is an employment law consultant for the ELAS Group. She says: “Although this appears to be a response to the growth of the gig economy and the ongoing debate over employment status of those who work in it, this review has also looked at piece workers i.e. those who are paid according to the amount they produce.
“The review will almost certainly look at companies such as Deliveroo and Uber who engage their drivers/bikers on a self-employed status, which means that they have no employment rights, sick pay or holiday pay. Deliveroo said last week that if the government changed the law, they would offer some of the rights given to workers – a move that was criticised by one of Britain’s biggest unions, the GMB, who said that it was ‘the exploitative employment practices of companies such as Deliveroo that are out of date – not the law.’
“We anticipate that the review will call for a new category of employment status – the dependent contractor – which would allow them to receive benefits such as sick pay and holiday leave and guarantee that they are paid the minimum wage.
“Employment status has long been a grey area and this review seeks to clear the muddy waters following a spate of cases. If the government does implement these suggested changes then they would be creating this new category just to respond to the gig economy. Companies such as Deliveroo, Uber and CitySprint have been criticised in the past for exploiting the law in order to keep costs down. Last year an employment tribunal ruled that Uber drivers were really workers and, therefore, should receive basic rights. Uber have appealed but the binding EAT ruling will hopefully provide further clarity on the issue.
“Perhaps this government review will go even further.”