The online platforms hosting or offering the gigs tend to consider gig workers as self-employed, or ‘independent contractors’, citing the flexibility they have over choosing their own hours. The gig economy is thus sometimes conflated with the general trend towards self-employment or ‘independent work’.
Some argue that platforms are misclassifying workers as self-employed, depriving them of rights and protections while still exercising control akin to employers. There are also concerns about how this affects public finances because the self-employed and the companies that contract them pay a lower rate of tax than employees and the businesses they work for.
Both the RSA’s report on the gig economy and the Taylor Review on Modern Employment Practices reached the conclusion that how a worker is classified should be decided on a case by case basis rather than assuming that all workers in the gig economy fall under a particular category. However, the Taylor Review sought to clarify the ‘worker’ category – a third category that sits between employee and self-employed – renaming it ‘dependent contractor’ and specifying the rights and entitlements to be provided. It is likely that many gig workers will be reclassified as ‘workers’/dependent contractors, especially given that a tribunal recently found two Uber drivers to be ‘workers’ rather than self-employed as claimed by Uber.
The Taylor Review was a much anticipated milestone in progressing the debate on employment rights of gig workers. Our next blog will delve into the detail of this debate and its implications for workers, businesses and consumers.