Legal Review to Guarantee Gig Workers’ Rights & Wages

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Posted: 11th July 2017 by
Lawyer Monthly
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An upcoming government review of workers’ rights is set to demand minimum wage, a new working title under ‘dependent contractor’, and benefits such as sick pay and holiday leave.

Until now the UK’s working system has been divided into employee, worker and self-employed, but now these categories could be joined by ‘dependent contractor’.

Gig workers, who are employed on a contractual basis by companies such as Deliveroo or Uber, following the government review, will be entitled to benefits like sick pay and annual holiday leave, as well as some of the UK’s minimum wage requirements.

This will clarify matters that have been ongoing in regard to lawsuits and disputes surrounding the rights of gig workers.

Matthew Taylor, the head of the Royal Society of Arts and a former Tony Blair adviser, is planned to outline the government review and will sketch a structure obliging companies to show that a worker employed by them on a gig contract can earn at least 1.2 times more than the national living wage, which is £7.50 an hour for over 25s.

Deliveroo has also recently announced it will be paying sickness and injury benefits to its 15,000 UK riders if the law is changed.

Leon Deakin, Partner at law firm Coffin Mew, told Lawyer Monthly:

“Given the current levels of uncertainty and associated volume of ‘worker or employment status’ claims facing the gig economy, I understand why Deliveroo is raising this issue. A complete review and potential overhaul is long overdue as the business world and modes of working have moved on significantly since the last time we had specific legislation. Trying to apply the current rules, designed when 9-5 working was the norm, just feels clunky.

“Broadly speaking, the categories we currently have (employee, worker and self-employed) do give a fairly rounded range of options but a bespoke category for businesses like Deliveroo, with perhaps a variable approach to benefits in return for flexibility in working, could improve things further.

“If the Taylor Review produces persuasive evidence that gig economy workers actively choose that form of employment, the case for a wider range of categories would be easier to justify. However, if it is actually because of a lack of choice in the job market and this is deliberately being abused by employers, the better option may be to simply stick with the current groupings and clarify guidance, so that businesses have no excuse and individuals can more easily enforce their rights.

“We must always bear in mind that we cannot sacrifice the rights of individuals on the altar of progress just because the businesses in this area demand it.”

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