Our head of employment law, Anthony Purvis has given his comments to The Law Society Gazette in response to the government’s decision to defer on reform of the so-called ‘gig economy’. You can read them here.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy leanched a research project into the scale of the gig economy – the first piece of government-commissioned research into the practice. The report by former aide to Tony Blair, Matthew Taylor, pays particular attention to the one-sided flexibility of employment relationships.
15% of the UK’s labour market are currently self-employed, which has seen a rise in the number of people doing ‘gig’ work – mostly casual, short-term work that is increasingly sought by people through mobile phone apps when they want to work.
The increase in ‘disruptive’ businesses – where new ways of working and technology come together to create new products and services to better meet consumer demand – has led to a change in working practices.
Many doing ‘gig’ work have ‘worker’ or ‘self employed’ employment status. Employees are entitled to a full range of employment rights: the National Minimum and Living Wage, annual leave, rest breaks, maternity, paternity and adoption leave, right not to be treated less favourably as a part-time worker, right not to be treated less favourably as a fixed-term employee, right to request flexible working, protection from discrimination at work, minimum notice periods, collective redundancy consultation, statutory redundancy pay, protection from unfair dismissal and TUPE. In comparrison a worker is entitled to a range but not all employment rights: the National Minimum and Living Wage, annual leave, rest breaks, right not to be treated less favourably as a part-time worker, protection from discrimination at work.The self-employeed have no entitlement to employment rights beyond the basic health and safety and anti-discrimination framework.
The Taylor review of modern working practices made the following recommendations:
Most employers are keen to avoid dismissing staff in whom they have invested time and money but this is not always possible.
Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), sometimes referred to as “gagging clauses”, are rarely out of the news.
On 5 December 2022, following its Making Flexible Working The Default consultation, which has now concluded, the UK government announced that it will be introducing reforms to the law around employees’ rights to make flexible working requests.
I was interested to read the recent reports in the Guardian and BBC News that Elon Musk has sent an email which requires all staff to sign a commitment to working “long hours at high intensity” and being “extremely hardcore”. They report that the alternative is that they will receive three months’ severance pay.