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Workers’ rights in the gig economy

The Taylor Review into modern work practices has been published. It aimed to tackle some of the issues that leave working people unable to cover living costs, reliant on foodbanks and on housing benefit and tax credits. It has taken the Labour movement a century to secure basic employment rights that have been rolled-back by some of the less responsible companies in the gig economy.

I am pleased the Taylor Review builds on recommendations made by my Work and Pensions Select Committee in May, but companies like Deliveroo and Uber are, in my opinion, failing to acknowledge their responsibilities as employers. It is unacceptable that a million workers fall into this grey area in the new economy and are denied access to basic rights, leaving them and the taxpayer worse off.

The Review calls on the Government to define people who work for gig economy companies as ‘dependent contractors’ to secure some access to sick pay and holiday leave. Simply pushing for a change in status does not go far enough or answer the challenges faced or the shirking of responsibilities by some rogue companies.

Whilst Uber have not embraced the precepts of the Taylor Review, many people have been in touch to suggest that companies like it have been let off very lightly. I hope the report on the future of the UK Taxi Trade, to be published next week, will go much further and pressure Ministers to devolve greater powers to the Mayor of London.

The Review also recommended more widespread digital transactions take place, eventually phasing out the largely untaxed ‘cash-in-hand’ economy which would raise around £6bn in tax revenues, tackle crime, and drive up employees’ rights.

The Taylor Review provides a basis for addressing many of the issues presented by the growing gig economy, but ensuring working people have access to a stable career, fair pay, and the fundamental rights we expect from employers warrants firmer, swifter action.

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