Gig economy review 'will not shift balance of power' for workers

Gig economy review 'will not shift balance of power' for workers

Gig economy review 'will not shift balance of power' for workers

The British government tried to tackle a question on Tuesday which is troubling countries around the world: how to protect workers without "stopping the clock" - in the words of the United Kingdom prime minister - on the way technology is changing the workplace.

But he stops short of demanding a blanket minimum wage - instead calling for two-way flexibility on the issue of pay, with companies having to pay at least the minimum wage in exchange for a contractor working during busy periods.

As The Guardian points out, one of the report's four panel members - Greg Marsh - is a former investor in Deliveroo, which is a company very much at the heart of the gig-economy.

The review recommends that a new category of workers called "dependent contractors" should be created in an attempt to clarify the grey area between fully-employed and self-employed workers.

Let's get serious about sorting out the gig economy.

The report proposes a new category of worker called a "dependent contractor", who should be given extra protections.

The report found the way the law is publicised and enforced should "help firms make the right choices and individuals to know and exercise their rights". Mr Taylor may have borrowed the term from Canada, which successfully introduced a "dependent contractor" status decades ago.

Matthew Taylor, who was commissioned previous year by the Prime Minister to carry out this review, will today publish his 7 principles to achieve "good quality work for all".

The review, we were promised, would look at the working lives of those in these precarious self-employed jobs; if, how and why they're being exploited by employers; and how the government can step in to make improvements. As per the current rules, it would give rights to holiday, sick and maternity pay, but not to claim for unfair dismissal.

"The review calls on the government to adopt the ambition that all work should be fair and decent with scope for fulfilment and development", Taylor said. A self-employed person doing the same work as an employed person can pay a different amount of tax or National Insurance despite receiving similar contributory benefit entitlements in return, ' the report added.

Policymakers in the U.S. are likely to watch this proposal particularly carefully. "To close this gap we need a shift in attitude towards employment in general and modern industry".

Proposals include setting a higher minimum wage for uncontracted hours to encourage firms to guarantee more work - and to allow workers to request a full, fixed contract once they've been with an employer for 12 months. "They won't decide to do so just because they're asked nicely", he said. It needs to be accompanied by sectoral strategies engaging employers, employees and stakeholders to ensure that people - particularly in low-paid sectors - are not stuck at the living wage minimum or facing insecurity but can progress in their current and future work.

This would apply at times of normal demand.

Why, for example, wasn't there a Deliveroo worker - or any precarious worker - on the panel? Uber, which has 40,000 drivers in the United Kingdom, said drivers made an average of £15 an hour past year after service fees.

Andrew Byrne, head of policy for Uber in the United Kingdom, said: "The main reason why people say they sign up to drive with Uber is so they can be their own boss".

Arguing that the review is not the "game-changer" needed, TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "I worry that many gig economy employers will be breathing a sigh of relief this morning".

But employment specialists warned that the reality of implementing new legislation would prove a hard task. She said she wanted to work more on a cross-party basis, challenging her political rivals to contribute ideas and back government proposals that they agree with, reflecting the new political reality of her minority administration.

Richard Fox, head of employment law at Kingsley Napley, said the big question would be whether Prime Minister Theresa May will be practically able to drive through the changes. Firms such as Uber and Deliveroo, who make widespread use of temporary workers, have come under fire for their working practices. "If not, the review will be little more than an awareness campaign".

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