There has been much hype in the press about last Wednesday’s announcement by the Government that rights for those working in the gig economy will be strengthened and strictly enforced. This sounds like a radical shake-up for the growing gig economy but the announcement, whilst making promises, lacks detail and true commitment to legislative change.
Our previous blog, “After Uber and Deliveroo”, covered the ongoing disputes in the Tribunal system regarding working conditions for those in the gig economy. Individuals are claiming entitlement to sick pay and holiday pay as workers, whereas they are classed by the businesses engaging them as being self-employed, and therefore not entitled to such rights.
Last year’s Taylor Report (see "What does the Taylor Review mean for HR?") recommended far-reaching changes to employment law to address these issues. The Government’s most recent announcement is in response to that report. However, it essentially reiterates the current law and offers consultation on any more radical changes.
The Government has promised that it will:
- Via HMRC, enforce workers’ rights to the national minimum wage, sick pay and holiday pay;
- Ensure that new and expectant mothers are aware of their rights;
- Introduce naming and shaming for the non-payment of Tribunal awards;
- Via the Low Pay Commission, consider introducing a higher rate of NMW for those on zero-hour contracts; and
- Ask HMRC to prioritise the enforcement of the NMW for unpaid interns.
It has also stated that it will consult on:
- Protecting agency workers;
- New legislation regarding employment status; and
- All workers being able to request a more “predictable and stable” contract.
The Government accepts that there is a lack of clarity around employment status and the definition of “worker” in particular. It appears to support the recommendation in the Taylor Report that workers are renamed “dependent contractors”, but the announcement falls short of giving any real commitment to detailed changes to the law.
Until the outcome of the consultations and any more concrete legislative changes, it is likely that individuals will still need to bring Tribunal proceedings to gain clarity on their employment status and their related rights, and uncertainty in this area will continue.
After studying law at Cambridge University, I trained at leading national law firm Mills & Reeve, qualifying into their employment team in 2002. I have extensive employment law experience, gained through advising both employers and employees on a wide range of issues, across an array of sectors – including but not limited to finance, education, hospitality, transport and retail. This diverse experience means I am ideally placed to provide advice in relation to professional conduct and regulatory matters.
I am now a senior solicitor at ESP Law, part of ESP Group – a very different employment law firm and HR consultancy business, with our own in-house legal and HR experts. Taking pride in our reputation for delivering sensible, straight-talking and practical advice – at the same time as being approachable and supportive – I am passionate about the way ESP works with its customers. By building on trusted relationships and providing prompt support at the earliest stage of any issue, we help ensure that sound commercial decisions are taken.
The vision for our business was to deliver an exceptionally personal, yet cost-effective service that truly meets the evolving needs of modern and forward-thinking HR teams and their organisations. I’m lucky to be among a team of very talented employment lawyers who work hard day in, day out, to make this vision a reality.