• More people would be ‘giggers’ if they had better rights

  • 10 Jul 2017
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Long-awaited review expected to call for new employment status category to improve protection for workers

Two in five people would be more likely to take up gig work if employment rights were improved, research out today has found.

The study of 2,000 UK adults by consultancy firm PwC also found that, while 77 per cent of people would prefer to be full-time employees, almost half (45 per cent) were already in gig-style jobs or would consider working in this way.

Gig work was more popular among younger workers, with 58 per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds surveyed saying they would consider working in the gig economy, compared with just 30 per cent of those aged over 55. However, many flagged fears about not being able to earn a decent income, job security and lack of rights such as holiday and sick pay.

“A flexible labour force is one of the UK’s strengths, and key to driving competitiveness and productivity. But it needs to be a win-win for both employers and workers,” said Julian Sansum, employment partner at PwC. “Our research shows that while many workers are open to the idea of gig working, for many their concerns over job security and being able to generate sufficient income still outweigh the benefits this type of work can offer.”

The findings come ahead of the release of a long-awaited review into employment rights, which is due to be published tomorrow.

The BBC has reported that the Taylor review will call for a new category of employment status, known as ‘dependent contractors’, who will receive some of the same benefits that employees do, such as sick and holiday pay, and will have some minimum wage rights.

And earlier reports suggested that the review, which is being headed by Royal Society of Arts chief executive Matthew Taylor, would advocate new rights for those on zero-hours contracts. These could include a right to request fixed hours, which would work similarly to employees’ right to request flexible working, with businesses expected to treat such requests seriously and give reasons if they turned them down.

A number of cases have been brought recently attempting to determine what rights gig workers should have. In October, a tribunal decided Uber’s drivers should be classified as workers rather than self-employed. The taxi-hailing app has appealed against the decision and the case is scheduled to be heard in September.

Meanwhile, in January, a tribunal ruled that CitySprint cycle courier Margaret Dewhurst should be classified as a worker, entitling her to holiday pay and the national living wage. That case is also likely to go to the Employment Appeal Tribunal later this year.

Some well-known gig economy companies have recently extended more rights to their workers. Uber announced earlier this year that it would be offering its drivers sickness and injury cover in return for a £2-a-week charge.

Meanwhile, Deliveroo revealed late last week that it would be willing tfo give its riders benefits such as sick pay, but only if the law was changed.

“Current employment law prevents on-demand companies from extending some of the entitlements that are open to ‘workers’ without calling into question the status of its riders, who are self-employed,” a spokesperson from the food delivery firm is quoted by Reuters as saying. “Deliveroo is calling for a change... that would allow it to offer new benefits to its riders; for example, sick pay, insurance or shares for long-standing riders.”

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  • You don't voluntarily enter the gig economy for job security and the benefits package.

    You voluntarily enter the gig economy because you want flexibility, challenge and change or you want to run your own business.

    It takes a certain mindset to be successful in the so-called 'gig' economy - such as being entrepreneurial, willing to take risks, love change and disruption, resilience, action-orientated, can anticipate.

    The 2 in 5 people who would be more likely to take up gig work if employment rights were improved - don't sound like they have those approaches and attitudes.