Parliamentary committees criticise gig economy


Last week, takeaway service Deliveroo won a case at the Central Arbitration Committee, which ruled that the food delivery app's couriers are self-employed, rather than workers.

MPs also proposed that companies be legally obliged to provide all workers and employees with a clear written statement of their employment status, laying out their rights and entitlements, on their first day at work.

But we recognise that the labour market is not working for everyone which is why we commissioned Matthew Taylor to review modern working practices to ensure our employment rules and rights keep up to date.

The Work and Pensions and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy select committees have prepared the report, which criticises the behaviour of "irresponsible companies" which take advantage of workers.

Labour MP Frank Field, who chairs the Work and Pensions Committee, said the draft bill "would end the mass exploitation of ordinary, hard-working people in the gig economy" and would "put good business on a level playing field, not being undercut by bad business". "It is time to close the loopholes that allow irresponsible companies to underpay workers, avoid taxes and free ride on our welfare system", Field said.

The committees said that fines levied against firms would make sure that "the risks of being caught outweigh the gains companies stand to make from illegal practices". The report, due in July 2018, is likely to call for legal reform to reclassify gig workers as dependent contractors, maintaining flexibility while also giving access to statutory benefits.

We set out below the Report's key recommendations - we have noted where the proposal is also reflected in the draft Bill.

The MPs' draft bill aims to clarify the definitions of employment status and enshrine the presumption that those working for companies over a certain size are all classed as workers, with rights to the minimum wage and holiday pay.

In the United Kingdom, it is estimated that one million people are employed in this type of capacity.

Rachel Reeves, the Labour chairwoman of the Business Select Committee, said that workers rights should not be sacrificed for flexibility.

"One of the issues with employment tribunals making decisions in employee or worker status cases, apart from the length of time these cases take to land including the lengthy appeal process, is the fact that the decisions only apply to the particular cases heard before them and not to the entire workforce of the employer or engager involved", Nicol said.

The union also said that Deliveroo had managed to "game the system".

Uber and Deliveroo, both of which gave evidence to the inquiries, say drivers and riders value the flexibility of being self-employed.

IWGB general secretary Jason Moyer-Lee said: "On the basis of a new contract introduced by Deliveroo's army of lawyers just weeks before the tribunal hearing, the CAC decided that because a rider can have a mate do a delivery for them, Deliveroo's low paid workers are not entitled to basic protections".

"Riders make on average £9.50 an hour with Deliveroo, well above the National Living Wage".