November 28, 2017
The gig economy is a hot topic. Love it or loathe it, it is a way of working that seems set to stay. Characterised by payment per “gig”, it is seen by some as the ideal way of working flexibly but by others as an exploitative exercise that provides little or nothing in the way of workplace protections.
2017 has seen several cases in which the gig economy came under the judicial microscope. In the most recent of these, the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) struck a blow at union hopes of challenging the employment status of Deliveroo drivers and perhaps also gaining new membership from among gig economy workers. The CAC ruling that Deliveroo riders are self-employed is a departure from other recent rulings that have found Uber drivers and a CitySprint courier to be workers. Concerned business owners who make use of the gig economy may now be regarding the case law with some perplexity and wondering where it leaves them.
Right of substitution
The Deliveroo riders’ case failed on the right to substitution. Permitting individuals to provide a substitution for themselves either before or after accepting a job was found to weigh heavily against employer control. This, when combined with a removal of the requirement to wear Deliveroo-branded clothing, allowed the scales to fall on the side of self-employed status.
Self-employed status – what are the effects?
As well as not being entitled to union recognition, self-employed workers do not benefit from the right to sick pay, holiday pay or the full force of the minimum wage. They also have no protection against unfair dismissal or any right to a redundancy payment.
What will happen next?
Moves are afoot to alter this state of affairs and businesses should be alert for any change to the current uneasy status quo. Released earlier this year, the Taylor Review of Modern Employment Practices hints at a thorough shake-up. The government has promised a full response to the findings of the review by the end of the year, although it would not be surprising if this was delayed given other pressing political priorities.
How can we help?
In the murky world of employment status, where the legal tests for determining whether someone is employed or self-employed alter with each new case, specialist advice is essential. It is not only a question of complying with the law as it stands; it is also a matter of ensuring a business presents itself as an attractive place to work. If the need for labour were to rise, it is far from inconceivable that demand could outweigh supply. With individuals most likely to choose to work where they have all the rights and protections possible, it makes sense for businesses to position themselves to have the fullest choice of the available talent pool. Our experienced team of employment law practitioners would be delighted to assist you with any queries you may have regarding employment status.