What next for the gig economy?
It has been clear for some time that the rapidly changing face of modern business has highlighted the gaps in employment protection faced by many of those engaged in it. The existing system simply isn’t working for everyone.
The Government has been taking steps to address the issue having commissioned an independent review of employment practices chaired by Matthew Taylor in 2017. Various consultations followed this review in 2018, and the latest response was published on 17th December: the Good Work Plan . This has been hailed as the “largest upgrade in a generation to workplace rights”. The aim is to redress one-sided flexibility, take into account new business models and technological advances and provide clarity for workers and employers. Good Work received a lot of press interest primarily because of the high profile “gig” economy employment status cases involving companies such as Uber, Deliveroo and Addison Lee and also the abuse by some employers of zero hours contracts.
Key proposals include aligning the employment status test for employment rights and tax, the ability to request a “more predictable and stable” contract after 26 weeks and an extension of the right to a written statement of terms to all workers (not just employees). Notably there does not seem to be any recommendation to reclassify some workers as “dependant contractors” with a new status test, as suggested by the Taylor Review.
Although the Government states that Good Work takes forward 51 out of the 53 recommendations made by the Taylor Review there is still much which needs to be fleshed out. Whilst there are timeframes in place for some simpler aspects of the proposals (with many coming into force in April 2020), the more complex aspects will take more thought. The Government recognises, for example, that it will not be simple to draft legislation clarifying employment status. It is also not clear how the right to request a predictable and stable contract will work in practice, and it appears to be a right to request (perhaps similar to the right to request flexible working) rather than a right to have a stable contract. As ever, the devil will be in the detail.
For full details on this, see our article here.