IPSE: Self-employment definition needed to address gig economy issues

Posted 7th July 2017 in For Businesses For Workers

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) has once again called for an official definition of self-employment to be introduced as a means of tackling the current confusion over workers’ rights within the gig economy sector.

The organisation has defended the gig economy model in the face of recent criticisms, describing its emergence as a “positive development” for the majority of those working within the system, but stated that greater clarity on how the term “self-employed” is used would help to address the problem of some workers being exploited.

Responding to a report from the Resolution Foundation calling for a minimum wage to be applied to self-employed people who do not set their own rate of pay, IPSE welcomed the general principle, but noted that the true definition of self-employment encompasses more than a system of billing.

It noted that having autonomy over workloads and working arrangements, responsibility for business risks and independence from clients are all key markers of truly self-employed people, and that any planned reforms should look to protect these concepts – while also offering greater support for gig economy workers who do not enjoy these benefits, but are nevertheless classed as self-employed so that bosses can avoid giving proper working rights.

In a separate response to MP Frank Field MP’s recent open letter to Politics Home about the gig economy, IPSE’s director of policy Simon McVicker said a statutory definition of self-employment is the best way to identify which workers are in need of support.

He said: “At present, the only recourse gig economy workers have to clear up this confusion is through the courts. They should not have to pay fees and navigate the complexities of employment tribunals just to clarify their status.

“A statutory definition of self-employment would eliminate this problem and make it clear who is self-employed and who needs greater rights and protections.”

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