Industry experts respond to Labour’s gig-economy plans

(4 minutes to read)

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Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has made the announcement for plans to put a ‘complete stop to exploitation in the workplace’ by extending rights to gig-economy workers.

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) have said that the Labour Party’s proposal will ‘strangle innovation at birth’ and make it harder for people to find work that will fit around their lifestyle.

Andy Chamberlain, IPSE’s Deputy Director of Policy, said“Labour’s proposal will drive a stake through the heart of the flexibility which makes gig work so attractive to people.

“The gig economy has created opportunities for workers, benefited consumers and confirmed the UK as a global beacon of innovation.

“Government research released this year confirms that the majority of people in the gig economy are satisfied with their experience. Gig work gives them a sense of control over their careers, which is particularly important for people who need to find work which fits around parental or caring responsibilities.

“The clear majority of people also have a regular job alongside their gig work, so gig work provides a source of additional, flexible income that most are very happy to have.

“This proposal may have the unintended consequence of making it more difficult for people who want to explore new challenges by having a ‘side hustle’”.

He added, “While the gig economy has its benefits, we should not overlook the not-insignificant proportion of workers in the gig economy who are at risk of being vulnerable, and they must not be ignored.

“And we must work to stamp out ‘bogus self-employment’, where unscrupulous companies unilaterally declare their workforces to be self-employed.

“But it would be a mistake to conflate ‘bogus self-employment’ with the ‘gig economy’ or wider self-employment, and then try to regulate these ways of working into oblivion.

“The Government can clear the confusion over employment status and ensure vulnerable workers get existing rights they are entitled to by introducing a statutory definition of self-employment.”

Tania Bowers, General Counsel at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), also commented, “While APSCo, of course, supports efforts to protect vulnerable workers, introducing blanket rules where all non-permanent workers are offered the same rights as employees has the potential to severely dampen the economy.”

“It is crucial that we differentiate between those who are forced into false self-employment and contractors who operate in the professional market. We do recognise the need for professional contractors to be in a financial and legal position to provide for their pensions, sick pay and holiday pay. However, this must not be at the expense of flexibility in the labour market.”

“The Government must recognise the reality that a vast number of contractors choose to shun traditional employment models and the strength of the UK labour market – and wider economy – lies in its flexibility.”

“While the Shadow Chancellor has made clear that many of his solutions for helping people in temporary jobs ‘won’t be found’ in the Taylor Review, I think it’s important to note the recognition by Matthew Taylor of the importance of flexible working, both to individuals and the productivity of the economy. We would not want to see a situation whereby providing full employment rights to workers – including dismissal rights – stunts productivity and growth. By their nature agency workers are temporary.”

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