The ‘gig-economy’ is a term cropping up more and more, and refers to the environment where workers can operate under a contractor basis for an organisation. For example; Deliveroo, Uber, Etsy and Airbnb. With gig economies, the appeal is there. A short term solution for many to earn an income in an uncertain job market is proving to be a sure way to earn some money with flexible working hours. However, a potentially short term solution still has long-term rights which affect their future.
Uber’s recent tribunal in particular has shaken the world of Auto Enrolment (AE). Once upon a time, employers in a ‘gig-economy’ could hide behind the shield of adopting self-employment practices. However, it was announced on the 28th October 2016 that Uber employees are classified as ‘workers’ and not ‘self-employed’ which Uber are now trying to appeal. Failing the appeal, this will open up a new can of worms surrounding AE and 60,000 ‘gig-economy’ workers in the UK will have more recognised employee rights, such as being enrolled in a pension scheme.
Similarly, Deliveroo have been encouraged to unionise in an effort for the company to recognise them as workers and as such have certain rights. This encouragement comes after the new payment structure was announced as £3.75 per delivery compared to the old structure of £7 per hour and £1 per delivery. This new structure leaves some employees unable to earn any money during their shift if no deliveries have been booked. Therefore, it is so important for a union to be in place in order to treat the Deliveroo riders’ as workers with access to basic rights such as a pension scheme, as opposed to being viewed as just another cog in the machine.
The next few weeks will witness the government examine the terms of AE to ensure nobody misses out and that those classified as workers will be entitled to the rights set out in The Employment Rights Act 1996. Watch this space for future developments!