Government to review gig economy

The government has begun a review of modern labour market practices with a regional tour visiting different sectors, as part of a bid to examine whether there need to be changes to the tax and legal systems to match new ways of working and ‘disruptive’ business models

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has also announced plans to launch a research project into the scale of the so-called ‘gig’ economy – the first piece of government-commissioned research into the practice. The project will also look at the motivations of people engaging in gig work.

The employment practices review was announced in October and is headed up by Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the Royal Society of Art.

He has now been joined by three expert panel members: Paul Broadbent, chief executive of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority; entrepreneur Greg Marsh; and Diane Nicol, a partner at law firm Pinsent Masons specialising in employment law.

They are conducting a six month review which includes a regional tour of areas including Maidstone, Coventry and Glasgow, speaking to workers and employers working in sectors such as the gig and rural economies and manufacturing, to fully understand the impact of modern working practices and how different labour markets work.

Taylor said: ‘We have a lot of research and policy to discuss but the most important part of our process is getting out and about to talk to businesses and workers across Britain about their experiences of modern work.

‘As well as making specific recommendations I hope the review will promote a national conversation and explore how we can all contribute to work that provides opportunity, fairness and dignity.’

Taylor indicated the review will look at the rising numbers of self-employed, plus the increase in the number of people doing ‘gig’ work – short-term, casual work that is increasingly sought by people through mobile phone apps when they want to work.  It will consider how employment rights differ currently, based on employment status, and at the different tax treatments.

The Taylor review has been welcomed by IPSE, the association of independent professionals and the self employed, although it has expressed concerns about the current lack of clarity over self employed status.

Simon McVicker, IPSE director of policy, said: ‘This review presents a vital opportunity to provide clarity around how modern employment relationships should be treated in the employment and welfare system. It will also have huge implications for what it means to be self employed, a worker or an employee.

‘The majority of freelancers love what they do, and would not want to work any other way. However, there is a small minority who feel they have been forced into bogus self-employment, and the review must examine those business models which risk exploiting people. If an individual is engaged like an employee, they must have employment protections.

‘An agreed definition of self-employment is essential. Business and government need certainty over what self-employment is, otherwise confusion will remain.’

Details of The Independent Review of Employment Practices in the Modern Economy are here.

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