Wide-ranging reforms needed to tackle surge in interest in gig economy work

Gig Economy


Gig workers should be given more power to hold companies to account under the law as a first step to making the gig economy fit for the future, according to a new report and survey published by the RSA which shows one in five would consider this way of working in future.

Good Gigs: A fairer future for the UK’s gig economy recommends the burden of proof be shifted to companies to prove gig workers are not employees and that penalties should be strengthened against companies who use clauses that prohibit employment status litigation.

It also calls for tribunal fees for workers challenging their employment status to be scrapped and tribunal rules to be modified to allow for a fast-track summary process to give workers immediate clarity.

And it calls for wider reform and a new approach to regulating the gig economy. The report proposes that, under ‘shared regulation’, government, gig economy companies and workers should collaborate to create a Charter for Good Work in the Gig Economy, setting out how the sector can support career development and professional fulfilment.

In addition it calls for greater investment in ‘Worker Tech’ and sustainable business models and for an inquiry into whether market competition across the whole economy is robust and serving the interests of customers, suppliers, shareholders and taxpayers.

An RSA survey shows there are currently 1.1 million people working in Britain’s gig economy, making it almost as big as NHS England and claims almost one in five of the working age population – or 8 million people – would consider some form of gig work in the future. It says young people are particularly attracted to gig work. A third of the gig economy workforce is aged between 16 and 30, compared to 11% of other self-employed workers and a quarter of employees. A quarter of all 16 – 30 year olds are considering gig work in the future.

The report’s lead author, RSA Senior Researcher Brhmie Balaram, said: “Our survey – the biggest ever of its type – shows the potential for the gig economy to grow at great speed over the coming years. In the short term, this means we must tackle the debate about the employment status of gig workers and clarify the law.

But to truly transform gig workers’ experiences of the labour market, we need an approach that goes way beyond legal housekeeping. That’s why we are urging government and the gig economy industry to collaborate and create a good work charter which sets out how gig workers can have fulfilling working lives.”

*Picture courtesy of Wikipedia.


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