Gig Economy: Government announces overhaul of workers’ rights

Today the Government has published its long-awaited response to last year’s Taylor Review

The Government promises that millions of people will benefit from enhanced rights, most particularly vulnerable workers in the so-called “Gig economy”.  But behind the headline, is there any substance to today’s commitments?

In the wake of controversy last year over the treatment of “gig” workers by companies such as Uber and Deliveroo, the Taylor Report called for a substantial overhaul of employment law to protect zero-hours staff and other casual workers without job security.

Having deliberated on this for several months, the Government today promises “major government reforms”, announcing that millions of vulnerable workers will get new rights, and that action will be taken against employers who breach workers’ rights.  The Government says it will go further than the Taylor Review recommendations, by:

Business Secretary Greg Clark says: “We want to embrace new ways of working, and to do so we will be one of the first countries to prepare out employment rules to reflect the new challenges”.

But scratch beneath the surface, and there is a distinct lack of substance to this announcement

Most of what has been announced simply involves enforcing and clarifying existing laws.  People who are officially classified as workers are already entitled to sick pay and holiday pay.  The new proposals do little more than commit to telling people what rights they already have.

And interestingly, the announcement confirms that there will be no change to the rates of tax or NICs.  The Government has rejected the Taylor Review recommendation that NICs of employees and self-employed should be brought in line with each other.

Beyond that, today’s announcement amounts to little more than launching consultations with industry and other bodies such as the Low Pay Commission.

As to what impact this will have on employment rights in the UK is yet to be seen.  We advise you to watch this space for further developments, and if you have any queries relating to employment law and your business, don’t hesitate to speak to one of our expert employment lawyers.