28th November 2017
A draft bill and report tackling the controversial way gig economy companies treat their workers has been published this month.
The bill focuses on the practice of using self-employment as a means of avoiding tax and exploiting cheap labour.
If successful, the bill would put the onus on companies to prove self-employed status and if they are unable to prove this, they would be obliged to offer employees benefits such as holiday and sick pay, or potentially face significant fines.
The current onus places the burden on workers to expose poor practice and prove that they are not self-employed, potentially exposing them to expensive court cases.
Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee the Rt Hon Frank Field MP, said the bill would, “end the mass exploitation of ordinary, hard-working people in the gig economy.”
The bill also proposes setting a wage premium for workers without contracted hours that is above the national minimum and living wages, encouraging employers to offer more stable work and ensuring agency workers are not paid less than permanent employees doing the same job.
The joint draft bill follows Uber losing an employment appeal tribunal against an earlier decision which confirmed its drivers had workers’ rights. James Farrar and Yasmeen Aslam, two Uber drivers, argued that as their actions were controlled by Uber, this meant they were employed by the firm and were entitled to holiday pay, rest breaks and the minimum wage. The tribunal ruled in favour of the drivers.
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