Gig economy threatens employment rights
New CIPD research provides first robust estimate of the size of the gig economy and highlights need for greater clarity over and enforcement of employment rights.
New research published last week by the CIPD shows 4% of UK working adults aged between 18 and 70 are working in the ‘gig economy’, and nearly two-thirds of them (63%) believe the Government should regulate to guarantee them basic employment rights and benefits such as holiday pay.
That means approximately 1.3 million people are engaged in ‘gig work’ according to the report, which is based on a survey of 400 gig economy workers and more than 2,000 other workers, as well as 15 in-depth interviews with gig economy workers.
The research also found that, contrary to much of the rhetoric, just 14% of respondents said they did gig work because they could not find alternative employment. The most common reason for taking on gig work was to boost income (32%). Overall, gig economy workers are also about as likely to be satisfied with their work (46%) as other workers in more traditional employment are with their jobs (48%).
However, there were concerns raised by some workers interviewed for the report about the level of control exerted over them by the businesses they worked for, despite them being classified as self-employed. This is supported by the data, as just four in ten (38%) gig economy workers say that they feel like their own boss, which raises the question of whether some are entitled to more employment rights.
Peter Cheese, CEO of the CIPD, said:
“We are pleased that the Government has commissioned a review of modern employment practices and look forward to working with his team. The Government also needs to take a number of steps to help clarify people’s employment rights and enforce existing legislation better, such as supporting a ‘know your rights’ campaign, so more people are aware of what protection they can expect.
“In addition, it is crucial that the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority is given sufficient resources to monitor and enforce compliance with existing employment rights. There is also a case to strengthen the role of Acas to allow it to proactively work with business to improve their working practices if they are in danger of falling foul of the law through a lack of resources or ignorance.
“Finally, we need better guidance for employers on atypical working, setting out the key principles of good work and responsible employment and the HR and people management practices that underpins this.”