Belfast Telegraph

Review on gig economy branded feeble by unions

By Alan Jones

A Government-ordered review into the employment rights of workers in the gig economy, which calls for better jobs, has been attacked as "feeble."

The review, headed by Matthew Taylor, a former adviser to Tony Blair, recommended a new category of worker called a 'dependent contractor', and said there should be "genuine two-way flexibility", giving workers additional protections.

The report by Mr Taylor, the head of the Royal Society of Arts, said low-paid workers should not be "stuck" at the living wage minimum, or face insecurity.

But unions and employment lawyers criticised the report, which has taken nine months to produce, for doing little to help the growing number of so-called gig economy workers - generally those on short term or freelance contracts, like employees at delivery and taxi firms such as Deliveroo and Uber.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "I worry that many gig economy employers will be breathing a sigh of relief.

"From what we've seen, this review is not the game-changer needed to end insecurity and exploitation at work.

"We'd welcome any nuggets of good news, but it doesn't look like the report will shift the balance of power in the modern workplace."

Thompsons Solicitors' chief executive Stephen Cavalier said that the report's recommendations were "feeble".

He added: "The creation of a new 'dependent contractor' status for gig economy workers would further complicate existing categories of how workers are defined in law.

"What is needed is one category which affords all workers all employment rights from day one of their contracts starting. This new status is unclear and unnecessary."

Mr Taylor said the UK's performance on the quantity of work was strong, adding that now was the time to create better jobs.

"The review calls on the Government to adopt the ambition that all work should be fair and decent with scope for fulfilment and development," he said.

"Despite the impact of the National Living Wage and tax credits, there will always be people who are in work but finding it hard to make ends meet. Our social contract with those people should include dignity at work and the realistic scope to progress in the labour market.

"Bad work - insecure, exploitative, controlling - is bad for health and well-being, something that generates cost for vulnerable individuals, but also for wider society."

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