The Gig Economy...An Opportunity Or Something To Avoid?

Submitted by Dawn on 24th April 2017

Gig Economy, short-term contracts, employment law, HR, flexibility

Over the past few weeks, the ‘gig economy’ is something that’s being discussed more and more in the media. Basically, it’s about a labour market that is characterised by lots of freelance work and short-term contracts, rather than permanent roles.

Some argue that it’s a win-win for employers and workers alike.  People get to enjoy the flexibility of having less constraints placed on their time, they are free to decide the finer details of how the work is carried out, and they also have an element of ‘pick and choose’ when it comes to finding projects that they want to work on. 

And of course, the benefits for employers are obvious, too. But are some businesses taking the market conditions a bit too far and using them to exploit their workers? 

It’s an issue that’s still something of a grey area in legal terms, though there has been an attempt recently to shed more light on the subject, in a case brought to the Court of Appeal. 

In February, Pimlico Plumbers, a London-based company, lost its appeal against a previous ruling that decided that a long-term worker was in fact an employee rather than a contractor, and should therefore enjoy rights such as basic holiday pay. 

Uber and Deliveroo have also come under scrutiny and it’s safe to assume that the discussions won’t end here. As we move into an economy with more flexibility and the traditional role of employment changes, business all across the UK will no doubt be thinking about their next moves. 

Most employers want to do the right thing for their workforce and are not actively looking for loopholes to exploit. Rulings in recent tribunals though have suggested that legislation will be stamping down on unscrupulous employers who aren’t stepping up to their responsibilities. 

Do you regularly rely on contractors to run your business, and enjoy the flexibility that it gives you? If so, then just hoping for the best and acting with good intentions probably isn’t going to be enough anymore. 

If you’d like to have an informal discussion about where you and your workers stand, please get in touch by completing the Contact Form or calling us on 01604 763494 to arrange your no-obligation discussion.