HERE, IRWIN MITCHELL’S ASSOCIATE SOLICITOR, SARAH BURKE GIVES YOU THE ANSWERS YOU NEED
How is the gig economy affecting employment?
In England there are three types of employment status; self-employed, worker or employee. Employees have the most employment protection with self-employed individuals having very few rights. Often, those engages in the gig economy are labelled by the parties as self-employed contractors. However, concerns have been raised regarding the rights of those individuals which have resulted in legal challenges and a Government review being launched to look into whether further protection should be given.
The most recent notable challenge came from Uber drivers. The drivers won their case in the Employment Tribunal with the tribunal deciding that they are workers and therefore entitled to be paid the National Minimum Wage, entitled to rights under the Working Time Regulations 1998 (including the right to paid holiday) and various other rights. This case is a good example of how employment laws are catching up with new and innovative ways of working in order to ensure protection for individuals. However, Uber are likely to appeal the decision.
What impact could this have on businesses?
At the moment the employment status of an individual (and therefore the rights they are entitled to) depends on a number of factors including whether they provide personal service, mutuality of obligation, control and other provisions. Businesses should be conscious that although on the face of it written agreements may suggest a self-employed arrangement, courts and tribunals can look behind those agreements. Therefore, if in practice the arrangements are more akin to a worker or employee relationship then challenges could be faced. Businesses would be well advised to review their arrangements (both contractually and in practice) to ensure that they remain as expected and have not evolved into something different entirely.
Sarah Burke, Associate Solicitor, Irwin Mitchell