A major government-backed review of British working practices has called for a new categorisation of gig economy workers in order to ensure their rights are better protected.
Following a nine-month probe, Royal Society of Arts chief executive Matthew Taylor has published his long-awaited review of modern working practices, which proposes a range of measures to ensure that employment law becomes more reflective of the way people work in the current economy.
The most prominent measure concerns the establishment of the concept of a “dependent contractor” as a new status category, which would apply to forms of employment that are not adequately covered by current protections for employees or self-employed people.
It would ensure that people working in the gig economy would gain access to a limited number of employment benefits, including sickness pay, to compensate for the fact they do not enjoy the same level of independence and control as more traditional forms of self-employment.
Business secretary Greg Clark said: “We have record numbers of people in work thanks to our flexible labour market. Being in work is important but people also deserve to be treated fairly by their employers whatever work they are carrying out.”
The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) welcomed the review and its recommendations to protect the flexibility of the self-employed, while also repeating its call for a statutory definition of self-employment in order to end the current confusion around the rights of gig economy workers.
Chris Bryce, IPSE’s chief executive, said it is “far too reductive” to only consider direction and control as indicators of dependent contractor status, explaining that policymakers should also take into account “the ability to choose when and where you work, whether the role is project-based and whether you have the right to send a substitute”.