Demand increases for protection of gig economy workers

As the importance of the gig economy continues to grow in the UK and indeed the rest of the world, both employers and employees are calling for increased protections for gig economy workers.

Gig economy rights
Businesses and employees are calling on the UK Government to provide more protection for those who work in the gig economy.In a survey of nearly 5,000 workers and over 100 businesses by leading jobs board totaljobs, 90 per cent of employees and 87 per cent of employers said that more regulations were needed to protect the rights of gig workers.

Growing the gig economy

The gig economy has been on the rise for several years and 64 per cent of employers believe it’s importance will only continue to grow in the next year, as individuals turn to self-employment in favour of more flexible working arrangements. This is backed up by an annual 24 per cent increase in the number of contract and freelance roles advertised, and a 36 per cent rise in candidate applications, according to totaljobs.It’s predicted that five million people work in the gig economy in the UK, representing around 16 per cent of the total full and part-time workforce. 43 per cent of businesses surveyed said they already employ gig workers and almost half of those (45 per cent) who don’t, said that they would do so in the future.

Flexibility helps employers and employees

35 per cent of gig workers said they did so because of the greater flexibility it offers compared to the traditional nine-to-five, 32 per cent said it’s because they couldn’t find full or part-time work, whilst one in five (22 per cent) said it was to get experience in a different industry.There are benefits for businesses too. 79 per cent of employers said they employed gig economy workers to offer flexibility to their business. 40 per cent said it’s to fill a gap in the team, and over a third (35 per cent) said it’s to help them scale their operations up or down.David Clift, HR Director, totaljobs the online recruitment advertiser, said, “It’s great to see that employers and employees are united in calling for broader rights and protections for those working within the gig economy.“Public awareness of the gig economy focuses primarily on courier services and drivers, but it’s vital to remember that more and more people from a wide range of sectors are adopting flexible working options.“With the Taylor Review highlighting the issue some four months ago, our research shows that all sides are on the same page, and waiting on ministers to make improvements to protect freelance, contract and zero-hours workers.”

Plugging the economy’s productivity gap

The gig economy could also provide a solution to the problems with the UK’s productivity, which fell for a second quarter in a row in the three months to June. 80 per cent of employers said that employees who work flexibly were more productive in the workplace.There could also be unexpected benefits for unemployment, which is currently at its lowest level since 1975 as 41 per cent of unemployed people in the UK said they’d consider working in the gig economy.
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Courts’ decision to classify Uber drivers as workers upheld

On the 10th of November GMB, the union for professional drivers, scored a victory for worker’s rights after the Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld a ruling that Uber drivers should be classified as workers.In October 2016, the Central London Employment Tribunal ruled in GMB's favour – determining that Uber drivers are not self-employed, but workers entitled to basic workers’ rights including holiday pay, a guaranteed minimum wage and an entitlement to breaks.GMB brought the claims on behalf of 25 of its members to the Central London Employment Tribunal on 20 July 2016 and it decided that Uber drivers are entitled to receive holiday pay, a guaranteed minimum wage and an entitlement to breaks.Maria Ludkin, GMB legal director, said, “This decision is a yet more vindication of GMB’s campaign to ensure drivers are given the rights they are entitled to - and that the public, drivers and passengers are kept safe.“GMB is delighted the EAT made the decision to uphold the original employment tribunal ruling.“Uber must now face up to its responsibilities and give its workers the rights to which they are entitled.For related news and features, visit our Human Resources section. Look out for the launch of 2018's Relocate Awards, entries open in January. Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory  

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