UK's Deliveroo says restricting 'gig economy' could undermine the sector

12 July 2017, 12:10 | Isaac Mcdaniel

Review to recommend minimum wage for 'gig economy' workers

Gig economy firms being 'let off the hook', unions claim ahead of new report

"At its heart, this review is about the relationship between employers and the people who work for them", the report said.

Prime Minister Theresa May tried to wrest back control of Britain's political agenda on Tuesday by reviving her pledge to introduce sweeping social reforms at the launch of a report on how to better protect workers in the "gig economy".

Nearly exactly a year ago, driven by her now-departed adviser Nick Timothy, blue-collar Conservativism was the big pitch: her first speech stressed the issue of "job security" and an "economy that works for everybody" to tempt Labour voters.

Firms like Uber, Deliveroo and CitySprint at present insist that their drivers and riders are self-employed and therefore can work when they want.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said on Twitter that we "don't need new employment status".

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.

Stephen Cavalier, CEO of employment law firm Thompsons Solicitors, said yesterday after details of the report were widely known that the new "dependent contractor" status is unnecessary.

Video: Workers' rights: who is right? "This new status is unclear and unnecessary".

"Alarmingly, however, some of the proposals may make the position worse for gig economy workers, contrary to the Government's suggestion that it is seeking to enhance workers' rights".

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Mr Taylor called for all work to be "fair and decent", with the same basic principles applying to all forms of employment in the British economy.

Uber drivers and Deliveroo cyclists can expect a new feature on their app which, rather like a fitness tracker, will mark how near they are to earning minimum wage and when they should be logging in to work to make sure they do. Improving the quality of work should be an important part of our productivity strategy.

Former Blair adviser Matthew Taylor was commissioned by Mrs May to review employment laws as the economy evolves.

"But it also means finding the right balance of rights and responsibilities, flexibilities and protections". "They won't decide to do so just because they're asked nicely", he said. He also states that there needs to be a particular focus between worker status and self employed status as it is here "where there is a greater risk of vulnerability and exploitation". "The seven pillars of Taylor are very wobbly and tumble to rubble under first scrutiny".

Taylor did suggest there should be a clear separation made between so-called gig economy workers and those who choose to be self-employed. "This would not only allow the Government to have some oversight of the work being undertaken by those working under visas in the United Kingdom, but also give confidence to consumers that the people they are paying are legally entitled to work in the United Kingdom".

A Government spokesman said: "Greg Marsh is clearly an expert in his field and has insight into modern working practices, as well as being a successful entrepreneur".

"Prior to his appointment he disclosed his interest to the Cabinet Office and agreed to divest himself of his shares".

However, the Taylor report was criticised by Labour and trade unions for not going far enough to promise concrete changes in conditions for those working in the gig economy.

Mr Taylor said this would be tackled by asking the Low Pay Commission to explore a higher minimum wage level for hours that are not guaranteed, and giving people the right to request fixed hours and permanent contracts. "(Dependent contractor) is a term. consistent with the idea that you can be an economic agent and have rights, without needing to be an employee — a status that might be available to fewer people in the future". Matthew Taylor has rightly recognised that the UK's flexible employment market is a great source of strength.

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