by Conrad Landin
“GIG ECONOMY” firms like Uber and Deliveroo are being “let off the hook” by a key probe into workers’ rights, trade unions warn today.
Former Tony Blair adviser Matthew Taylor is set to announce a new employment category of “dependent contractor” as part of his No 10-commissioned review into modern employment practices.
The change is likely to be presented as a way of pushing companies into paying statutory sick pay and holiday pay.
An increasing number of delivery companies and taxi firm Uber employ their workers on piece rates, a practice unions say pushes workers into bogus self-employment.
It has been reported that Mr Taylor’s review could recommend models for “real-time” earnings potential — where workers can log on to an online system and assess the likely pay rate for working on a particular day.
If a worker accepts work at a time when there are too few jobs to reach minimum wage levels, they could not subsequently sue for back-payment.
The dossier will also recommend that non-wage costs paid by the employer are “already high” and should not be increased.
General union GMB leader Tim Roache said he feared the review would create “more loopholes employers will inevitably exploit.”
He warned: “Current employment laws and our tax and national insurance structures are sufficient — the issue has been one of enforcement, or lack of it.”
Trade unions have challenged bogus self-employment at employment tribunals, which have largely ruled in favour of couriers and taxi drivers being classified as “workers” rather than self-employed.
In a speech in central London this morning, Mr Taylor will say work “should be fair and decent with scope for fulfilment and development.”
But TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “I worry that many gig economy employers will be breathing a sigh of relief this morning.”
Trade union law firm Thompsons said the review took a reckless attitude to workers’ rights.
“The offering delivered by Matthew Taylor is a dog’s dinner and certainly not what workers ordered,” Thompson’s chief executive Stephen Cavalier said.
He warned that the proposed model for calculating gig pay rates would mean some workers would “fall through the gap and actually end up with less,” saying the dependent contractor category was “unclear and unnecessary” and “not the solution” to exploitation.
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