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The ‘Gig Economy’ is currently in the spotlight due to the recent Uber case and the ruling is a green light for those working in a similar fashion to come forward and submit claims. Watch this space for upcoming potential cases with Hermes and Deliveroo!

So what is the ‘Gig Economy’ I hear you ask!
People who work in the gig economy usually have small ‘non-guaranteed’ jobs instead of standard full time jobs and these ‘workers’, as they are now finally being referred to, only get paid for the ‘gigs’ they do. Employment in the gig economy is growing faster by the day and is prominent in certain industries such as creative and ground transportation.

What happened in the Uber case?
The central question in the Uber case was one of ‘Control’ i.e. the more autonomy a person has in their job means they are more likely to be self-employed. Evidence found that Uber drivers were being put under extreme pressure to fulfil jobs and work long hours and if they didn’t fulfil a certain amount of jobs or perform well enough there would be repercussions.  This, along with other evidence, resulted in the courts ruling that Uber drivers are in fact ‘workers’ who are entitled to basic workers’ rights such as National Minimum and Living Wage, statutory sick pay and holiday pay.

How is it different to Zero Hours?
The major difference is that whilst Zero Hours and Casual Workers don’t get guaranteed hours or job security from their employer, they do receive National Minimum and Living Wage and entitlement to statutory sick pay and holiday pay if they meet the qualifying conditions. The so-called ‘gig economy workers’ were not receiving any such worker rights.

So is it an end to the gig economy?
The recent decisions are so ground-breaking that it will force thousands of businesses operating in a similar way to rethink their business-worker model and assess if they are on the right side of the law.  

The Financial crisis of 2008 saw a cultural change in many redundant full time workers move into self-employment, which in return brought them a better work life balance and control over their workload. More and more businesses are looking to adopt such a flexible approach to allow them to save resources in terms of benefits, office space and training and I personally can’t see how this type of working arrangement will disappear.
There is always going to be clear advantages to both parties when working in this type of way, which will remain going forward. Flexible working arrangements and control over how much work they can do benefits the worker, whilst employers don’t incur expensive staff costs when the demand for work is not there and only have to pay for work when it becomes available.

The ideal situation for businesses moving forward is one that continues to encourage innovation and embraces this new model of working, but creates much more certainty and protection for workers.     

If you are unsure about the employment status of your employees, workers, freelancers or contractors, give us a call and a member of our HR team will be happy to help!