Reforming workplace initiatives to protect gig economy workers
Reforming workplace initiatives to protect gig economy workers
Reforming workplace initiatives to protect gig economy workers

Reforming workplace initiatives to protect gig economy workers

Reforming workplace initiatives to protect gig economy workers

From Christmas Eve, there will be a requirement for businesses to make workers in the so-called gig economy aware of the specifics of their rights from their commencement date in a job.  The gig economy has various definitions, one such being that it is “a labour market characterised by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work, as opposed to permanent jobs.”

Any such communication provided to gig economy workers will include making them aware of what their eligibility is for paid leave and paid sick leave.   Additionally, gig economy workers will also be given the right to request hours that provide a greater guarantee of work.

Feedback from critics including the Trade Unions and the Labour party have commented that these reforms are not as extensive as they should be.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, has said:

“The right to request guaranteed working hours is no right at all” … Unless unions get the right to organise and bargain for workers in places like Uber and Amazon, too many working people will continue to be treated like disposable labour”, she added.

From a business perspective, Matthew Fell, who is chief UK policy director at the CBI has said that:

“Business welcome a new law that gives all workers the right to request more guaranteed hours, this will help to facilitate the conversations that are essential to ensuring flexibility benefits to both parties.

He also said that;

“Legislation to amend employment status rules risks making the law less able to adapt to new forms of work in the future.”

Matthew Taylor, a former aide to ex Prime Minister Tony Blair and the CEO of the Royal Society of Arts derived these findings from research that he undertook into modern working practices. Part of his review recommended that there should be a national strategy to provide good work for all “for which government needs to be held accountable”. It also said that individuals who prefer flexible working should be allowed to continue but they should be provided with fairness at work.

The view point from ministers regarding the legislation is that it will;

  • Make sure that Companies provide a “statement of rights” on day one of an individual’s employment, which sets out what paid leave they are entitled to, this includes payments for maternity and paternity leave as well as any time off for illnesses.
  • Guarantees that organisations calculate holiday pay based on 52 weeks, instead of 12 weeks, so that individuals in “seasonal or atypical roles get time off with pay as per their entitlement.
  • This legislation is also seen as closing the gap that has enabled agency staff to be paid a lesser amount than permanent employees.

So, where does this leave gig workers?...

It appears that this has created a better balance between the rights of employees on permanent contracts and gig economy workers, with the Government pledging to enact 51 of the 53 findings from the report. Some critics say that more could have been done, additionally that the fact that zero hours contracts still exist is a concern for them. However, due to the nature of the working world in the UK presently some individuals and businesses find that zero hours contracts work well for their purposes. These reforms are seen by many as a significant step in the right direction to make a difference to the working lives of many, especially those who have not been afforded such rights up until now.

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