Two recent Employment Tribunals in favour of the Applicants have blurred the boundaries between employed and self employed in what’s known as “the gig economy”. In the most recent, the BBC has reported that bicycle courier, Maggie Dewhurst, succeeded in her claim she was a “worker” and not self-employed. The Respondent, CitySprint argued that she was a self-employed contractor. As a “worker” Ms Dewhurst would be entitled to holiday and sick pay as well as the National Living Wage. You can click here to read the BBC Report. This means this decision could have very serious implications for what is known as the gig economy.
What is the “gig” economy
The “gig” economy is where people run their own businesses or juggle several low-paid jobs on a self-employed basis. Companies then engage these people and offer them work on a gig by gig basis. Accordingly, there’s no guarantee of regular work. It is also up to the contractor whether or not to accept the gig. The companies involved in these kinds of businesses argue that the people it engages are self employed contractors. If someone is self employed it means they are neither entitled to holiday or sick pay nor the National Living Wage.
Employment legislation is struggling to cope
The decision in this case follows an earlier case of Alam, Farrer and Others v Uber decided in October 2016. Alam and Farrer claimed they were “workers” and, as such, entitled to minimum wage and paid holidays. The tribunal also found in their favour. As a result of the Alam and Farrer case, the Government has set up a Review on Modern Employment Practices. The review will attempt to address this growing part of the economy and make recommendations.
At the time of writing we are awaiting the publication of the Dewhurst Decision on the Tribunals website. You can read the full facts of the Alam Farrer and others v Uber case by clicking here
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