The Gig Economy
One of the biggest consequences of the rise in apps such as Uber and Deliveroo has been the phenomenon of the “gig economy”. In the gig economy workers are paid for each individual “gig” they perform, such as a food delivery or a car journey. This offers greater flexibility to individuals as they are free to work at their own leisure.
Due to this level of flexibility employers claim individuals within the gig economy are self-employed as they carry out the service on their own behalf. This means they receive little employment rights in comparison to workers, who gain rights under the Working Time Regulations and the Equality Act, and employees who receive the highest level of employment rights including the right not to be unfairly dismissed.
The recent case involving Uber dealt with this issue directly. Uber argued they were a technology company and they did not provide a transport service to customers but simply put customers in touch with drivers. However, the drivers argued they are actually treated as workers and should therefore benefit from the basic protection associated with this status. The Employment Tribunal agreed with the drivers and determined they were workers. However, Uber have recently been granted the right to appeal this decision and so the uncertainty looks set to continue for now.
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Colin is an Associate in Ashtons’ Employment Law team and has over 15 years experience advising businesses and individuals.