Report recommends more rights to 'gig economy' workers

Posted July 12, 2017

In a statement, Andrew Byrne, Uber's head of policy, said its average drive took home well over the national living wage after costs.

But the rise of these companies has triggered protests from unions and some workers in the United Kingdom, just as it has in other countries such as the US, France, India and Australia.

"If they were serious about workers' rights they are welcome to borrow from Labour's manifesto".

The idea is that would-be workers can log into a platform and see "real-time earnings potential", the BBC reported.

A frustrated judge in San Francisco summed up the problem neatly in one "gig" case: "The jury in this case will be handed a square peg and asked to choose between two round holes".

The review recommends that the government should replace the "minimalistic approach to legislation" with a clearer outline of the tests for employment status, setting out key principles in primary legislation.

Paul Griffin, partner in the employment team at worldwide firm Norton Rose Fulbright, said the recommendations throw interesting questions into the mix but said "significant work" will be required to introduce the amendments to the current legislation. Mr Taylor may have borrowed the term from Canada, which successfully introduced a "dependent contractor" status decades ago.

The review is set to call for a new category of worker called a "dependent contractor" the BBC reports.

The proposed definition would rest on how much control and supervision the employer imposes.

'It's the people told to be ready for work or travelling to work only to be told none is available, it's the people who spent years working for a company on zero hours contracts but who without a guarantee of hours from week to week can't get a mortgage or a loan.

The review will call for the new "dependent contractor" payment system to be overseen by the Low Pay Commission, the official body which sets the minimum wage.

Trade unions also said Mr Taylor did not tackle numerous issues facing workers. Done simply for employers to avoid national insurance contributions, that is plainly wrong.

Policymakers in the U.S. are likely to watch this proposal particularly carefully. "We therefore urgently need appropriate limits on surveillance and monitoring in the workplace". Instead, what we will most definitely get is a commitment to the minimum wage.

As reported earlier, the review suggested the creation of a right that would allow those who have worked on a zero-hours contract for 12 months or longer to request fixed hours from their employers that better reflect the hours they have actually been working.

Such a review would not, I'd predict, recommend banning zero-hour contracts though, nor would it lobby for one-job-for-life employment for all.

"While the notion of a wage premium in exchange for working hours is attractive it could have consequences and push up prices elsewhere".

Why, for example, wasn't there a Deliveroo worker - or any precarious worker - on the panel?

"Drivers using Uber made average fares of £15 per hour previous year after our service fee and, even after costs, the average driver took home well over the National Living Wage", he noted.

Government officials should look at reducing the cost of employment tribunal fees, according to Matthew Taylor, who today publishes a long-awaited review into employment rights of workers in the gig economy. It says this can be doing using "piece rates" to enable workers to know what the demand is and whether pay will increase for certain tasks.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "From what we've seen, this review is not the game-changer needed to end insecurity and exploitation at work". If they can't reasonably earn a living wage with the work on offer, the report will argue it needs to be up to the contractor to decide whether they should take up the work or not - but that also means that companies will not be required to pay minimum wage to those who knowingly agree to take on work at less busy times.

Employment lawyers warned the new rules would be complicated to install, let alone enforce.