What is the Government doing about the Gig Economy?
With great fanfare earlier this month, the Government published its proposals about how to deal with employment rights for the age of the Gig Economy. Result? Further delay and consultation.
This came in the wake of the Taylor Review into modern working practices, published in July 2017, which looked into UK employment laws and how they should change given modern working practices. This was set up because of various Court cases on Uber drivers, Pimlico Plumbers, Deliveroo Drivers, and the like.
The general direction is that the Courts do not agree with the companies that their “contractors” are genuinely self-employed. Instead, the Courts believe they have the in-between status of workers, which means they get national minimum wage, holiday pay and potentially auto-enrolment pensions. It is a big deal for a significant chunk of the economy.
The Taylor review set out around 30 practical proposals to help clarify the distinction between self-employed, worker and employed and on a number of other still important but less critical areas. You can read the full document here.
However, rather than put forward concrete legislative proposals, all the Government has done is to ask for more consultation on the most important areas of the Taylor recommendations. In other words, it has not done any of the hard work of thinking for itself what should be done, and instead has done what all Governments do when they do not want to take a decision: send it out for long term consultation. You can read all about the Government’s response: here
That said, the Government has pledged to tighten up on a number of other issues, such as protecting unpaid interns and enforcing vulnerable workers’ holiday and sick pay for the first time (amongst other measures).
However, the big picture is that we could wait a long time before anything major comes out of the Government on the main issue of our day – worker status in the Gig Economy.
Instead, the main thrust of change will come from the judges and not politicians: the Supreme Court decision on Pimlico Plumbers is due out soon, and the Court of Appeal decision on Uber is due out later this year.
In my view, it should be elected politicians making this decision, not judges. Perhaps Parliament has something else on its mind these days?
© Ben Thornber, Thornber HR Law