Gig economy workers seeking guarantees over basic rights

Most people working in the so-called gig economy want the Government to take action to guarantee they have basic employment rights such as holiday pay, a new study shows.

Research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that 4% of adults are now employed on the short-term or freelance contracts making up gig work.

The survey of 400 gig economy workers and interviews with a number of others, showed that almost two thirds believed the Government should regulate to give them rights enjoyed by other employees.

The most common reason for taking on gig work was to boost income, with almost half saying they were satisfied with their job.

More than half of those polled said gig firms were exploiting a lack of regulation.

Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, said: "This research shows the grey area that exists over people's employment status in the gig economy.

"It is often assumed that the nature of gig work is well-suited to self-employment and in many cases this is true. However, our research also shows many gig economy workers are permanent employees, students, or even the unemployed who choose to work in the gig economy to boost their overall income.

"Our research suggests that some gig economy businesses may be seeking to have their cake and eat it by using self-employed contractors to cut costs, while at the same time trying to maintain a level of control over people that is more appropriate for a more traditional employment relationship. 

"It is crucial that the Government deals with the issue of employment status before attempting to make sweeping changes, else they risk building foundational changes on shifting sands."

Stewart Gee, of the conciliation service Acas, said: "Attempting to define workplace rights for gig economy workers can be a tricky area of employment law. A person who is defined as an employee or worker is likely to have different legal rights to someone else who is self-employed.

"We have updated our employment status advice to help provide some clarity on the various different ways that people can work and the employment rights that they are entitled to."

A Government spokesman said: "Matthew Taylor is leading an independent review into whether employment practices need to change in order to keep pace with modern business models."

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