Government begins addressing problems in the gig economy

Following the publication of the Taylor Report last year, the Government has announced the measures it intends to take to protect the rights of workers in the so-called “gig economy”. However, it has not taken any steps in relation to some of the most controversial issues, choosing instead to carry out further consultation on these topics.

The Taylor Report was commissioned to look into the rights of those members of the workforce who are not “employees” in the traditional sense, including agency workers, self-employed contractors and those whose employment status is open to dispute.

The Government has now agreed to take up some of the recommendations made in the report, including:

  • Strengthening the enforcement of vulnerable workers’ holiday and sick pay rights;
  • Giving all workers (including those on zero hour contracts) the legal right to receive payslips;
  • Giving all workers the right to request a “more stable contract” in terms of the weekly hours worked; and Strengthening the rights of unpaid interns.

However, there have been no proposals for dealing with the widespread uncertainty surrounding the definitions of self-employment and worker or employee status. The Taylor Report recommended that Parliament should produce new legislation to clear up this uncertainty, but the Government has instead launched a new consultation on how the law in this area could be improved.

This is likely to be a lengthy process and will mean that it will be several years before we see any changes in the law. This will mean that the issue of employment status will continue to be the subject of Employment Tribunal litigation in the meantime.

If you would like more information on this or a related topic, please contact the Employment and HR team.