Matthew Taylor, former Labour party strategist and current Chief Executive of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) has conducted an independent review into modern working practices, namely the gig economy.
The rise of app-based companies using workers on zero hour contracts on a piecework basis has made this review necessary, with many claims being brought against companies such as Uber and Deliveroo for failing to provide adequate workers’ rights.
It has been claimed that gig economy employers are failing to ensure that workers receive even basic workers’ rights such as National Minimum Wage and holiday pay, arguing that individuals working for them are self-employed contractors and are therefore not entitled to these rights. Contrary to this, workers are often expected to wear branded uniform and to display the company’s logo on their equipment in addition to being subject to performance reviews and having their rate of pay determined by the company.
Taylor’s review, published today calls for the introduction of a new worker status named ‘Dependent Contractor’ which will fall somewhere between self-employed and employed, entitling workers to sick pay and paid holiday.
However, surprisingly the review does not advise that these workers should be guaranteed the National Minimum Wage. Instead, it suggests that companies would be required to show how a worker could possibly earn 1.2 times the National Living Wage of £7.50 per hour by completing their tasks, and the rate at which they would need to be completed to achieve this. It is claimed that this would allow workers to see real-time earnings potential and make the decision whether or not to work. If workers do decide to work despite knowing that it is a quiet period, the company would not be obliged to pay National Minimum Wage.
Additionally, the review does not call for a ban on zero hours contracts, recognising that the flexibility of zero hours work has significant benefits for workers as well as for the companies that they serve and that people are often happy to pick up work as and when suits them, which can be useful when juggling other commitments.
Some may argue that the introduction of a new category of worker is unnecessary and does not offer the level of protection required however, it remains to be seen to what extent the government will use this review to inform new processes. This will be one to watch over the coming months.
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