UK Government Could Require Some Extra Benefits for Uber Drivers

12 July, 2017, 00:29 | Author: Garry Little
  • Deliveroo is calling on the Government to update legislation to give self-employed people greater security while maintaining the flexibility they want

The Taylor Report cited HM Revenue and Customs figures suggesting that cash-in-hand payments to casual workers like gardeners, window cleaners or child-minders contribute to a hidden economy accounting for around 18% of the gap between amounts of tax due and the total paid.

In February, Uber announced its decision to make its United Kingdom drivers' lives "easier" by limiting the number of hours they can work.

"The main demand that people have had about platforms like Uber and Deliveroo is that people in those platforms shouldn't be treated as self-employed, which means they don't have many rights, that the employer doesn't have to pay national insurance", Taylor said. That means a simpler test that might ask, say, if the firm sets your rate of pay.

The gig economy work is worth up to £6bn annually in the United Kingdom, according to a government report, calling for companies such as Uber and Deliveroo to better protect the workers they employ.

While reforms to the state pension introduced a year ago boost self-employed workers by giving them exactly the same entitlements as employed workers, the Taylor Review acknowledges that most should not be relying exclusively on the state to support them in retirement.

Mrs May is marking her first anniversary as Tory leader by launching a Government review of modern working practices by a former aide to Tony Blair, Matthew Taylor.

She said the government would carefully study his recommendations, which include ensuring workers in the gig economy have sick and holiday pay, the possibility of a higher minimum wage for non-guaranteed hours and a new definition of "dependent contractors" to stop companies wrongly claiming their workers are self-employed.

A spokesman for the Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain said: "Gig economy workers already have a right to the minimum wage and these proposals seem to want to erode those rights, particularly by preventing workers from pursuing employers that pay below the minimum wage".

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The review isn't binding; May's government will have to decide to implement the changes and how to go about it.

Uber drivers and Deliveroo cyclists can expect a new feature on their app which, rather like a fitness tracker, will mark how near they are to earning minimum wage and when they should be logging in to work to make sure they do. The status will be primarily used for people operating in the "gig economy", where employers treat workers as self-employed to avoid liability for holiday and sickness pay.

"The employment statuses should ... be distinct and not open to as much interpretation as now, nor be so ambiguous that only a court can fully understand the basic principles", the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices report (116-page / 3.94MB PDF) said.

Gig economy companies around the world have insisted they can not pay the minimum wage per hour without stripping workers of the right to "log on" to work whenever they want.

This term describes the modern, flexible working structures characteristic of companies that came out of Silicon Valley and other tech hubs such as London, including ride-sharing firm Uber and delivery business Deliveroo. "Experience shows that this will not happen". Tim Roache, head of the general trade union GMB, described the report as a "disappointing missed opportunity", while Len McCluskey, head of the UK's biggest union, Unite, said it had "spectacularly failed [to tackle] the scourge of insecure working in this country".

His view was echoed by unions.

A spokesman for Deliveroo said the company is ready to work with Government to end the trade-off between flexibility and security of employment.

"While much of the focus has been on relatively small shifts on the gig economy, the review's most radical proposal would actually have far more impact in traditional sectors such as retail and social care", Bells said.

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