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December 6, 2017updated 27 Jun 2022 5:01am

Gig economy workers will have to wait another year for improved rights

It is a waiting game for self-employed workers as they must wait longer for law implementation around workers rights.

By April Slattery

Thousands of self-employed ‘gig economy’ workers expecting to benefit from employment reform laws will now have to wait a little longer, as the government has delayed new legislation until next year.

Matthew Taylor, the chief exec of the Royal Society of the Arts who is leading the review into employment practices, recommended reforms to the gig economy in a paper last July. Taylor outlined changes that looked to improve the rights of up to 1.1million people, but the plans have now been put on hold.

Reforms to the employment law were expected to enhance the terms for a large proportion of gig workers including minicab drivers working for companies such as Uber, Deliveroo and Hermes.

The reform comes as a result of companies labelling workers as self-employed, giving them no workers’ rights such as minimum wage or holiday pay.

Within the review, Taylor said: “The current framework works reasonably well, but needs to adapt to reflect emerging business models, with greater clarity for individuals and employers.”

At present there are six million people not covered by standard workplace rights. Therefore, by developing such legislation it will make it much easier for all working people to find out basic details about their employment terms from day one, as well as updating these terms continuously during their employment.

Changes Taylor sees as a necessity include the Government reforming Statutory Sick Pay so it is a basic right, which is also comparable to National Minimum Wage that all workers are eligible for. Furthermore, he believes the Government should ensure there is a good awareness of rights between both workers and businesses for the economy to grow.

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Among the news in the recent months, the likes of Uber and Deliveroo have gone through court cases regarding disputes around employee rights, which is another area that Taylor hopes reforms will change.

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Most recently Uber’s case has been sent to the Court of Appeal after the Supreme Court rejected its request to appeal directly to the highest court instead of going through the correct channels, which means the dispute could now go on until 2019.

This followed the first appeal last year from two former drivers outlining they should be classed as workers as opposed to self-employed because of their conditions to work. Deliveroo and Hermes have also among other companies that have gone through legal challenges over the rights of workers.

Reforming employment laws aims to significantly reduce these incidents, but workers will have to wait a bit longer than they hoped. Taylor said: “I would rather it was later and stronger rather than earlier and weaker.”

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