Published: Tue, November 21, 2017
Economy | By Shawn Conner

MPs seek to end gig economy worker 'exploitation'

MPs seek to end gig economy worker 'exploitation'

Two parliamentary committees urged the United Kingdom government on Monday to extend greater employment rights to members of the so-called gig economy, which could force giants such as Uber and Deliveroo to enroll workers onto pension insurance plans.

They suggest that companies should be fined if they falsely classify workers and deny them benefits.

The work and pensions select committee and the business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS) committee have prepared draft legislation meant to close the loopholes that allow "irresponsible companies to underpay workers".

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"Uber, Deliveroo and others like to bang the drum for the benefits of flexibility for their workforce but now all the burden of this flexibility is picked up by taxpayers and workers", she said, referring to the fact that gig firms do not have to pay the same rates of tax as businesses which employ staff on full-time or part-time contracts.

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"It is time to close the loopholes that allow irresponsible companies to underpay workers, avoid taxes and free ride on our welfare system", he said.

It also follows on the heels of numerous tribunal cases debating worker status, including a decision last week by the Central Arbitration Committee that Deliveroo riders are self-employed contractors rather than workers.

Deliveroo recently won a case on the self-employed status of its riders and continues to insist that this self-employment status is favoured by employees.

It comes as the committees publish a draft Bill today aimed at tackling worker "exploitation".

Companies such as Deliveroo and Uber have been criticised by the select committees in the past for their employment model, which they say gives workers more flexibility to choose their own hours.

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The draft would seek to remove a loophole called the "Swedish derogation" that allows temporary staff from agencies to be paid less than employees for the same job, something recommended in Taylor's report. "We need new laws but also much tougher enforcement, to weed out those businesses seeking to exploit complex labour laws, and workers, for their competitive advantage", said Reeves.

MPs want to see enforcement bodies equipped with more resource - paid for by a significant increase in fines for offending employers - to root out bad practice.

Stronger penalties against firms which break employment laws have been proposed while the government is being urged not to make changes that would undermine current laws on the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage.

A BEIS spokesperson said the government would respond fully at a later date, but added: "We have record numbers of people in work thanks to our flexible labour market, benefitting both workers and business".

"Alongside this flexibility and good pay, we want to offer riders more security - such as injury pay and sick pay".

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