Copyright Moore Barlow LLP (Moore Blatch and Barlow Robbins merged May 2020)

An update on the gig economy

The term ‘gig economy’ is a fairly new term which you are likely to have heard in the media. Some have defined the gig economy as “a labour market characterised by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work, as opposed to permanent jobs”. It is thought that approximately 5 million people work in this type of capacity in the UK.

It would seem that some individuals like a working environment that offers flexibility with regard to employment hours etc. However some feel that this new economy is just a way for companies to exploit individuals who then have very little workplace protection. For this reason, there have been many cases in Employment Tribunals which have been recently classified as ‘gig economy’ cases.

As a reminder, if an individual is deemed to be a ‘worker’ rather than an independent contractor, they are entitled to a number of benefits including: holiday pay, paid rest, sick pay and the national minimum wage.

We thought it would be useful to provide an update on the various gig economy cases and the status of the cases:

  • Uber: In this case it was held that uber drivers should be classed as workers rather than independent contractors. Uber have been granted the right to appeal against said decision, and the hearing will take place in the London Employment Tribunal in September 2017.

  • Pimlico Plumbers: In this case it was held that one of the long-serving plumbers was a worker rather than an independent contractor. We reported this case in greater detail in our previous update. 

  • City Sprint: In this case it was held that a courier should be classed as a worker rather than an independent contractor.

  • Excel Group Services: In this case it was held a cycle courier should be classed as a worker rather than an independent contractor.

  • Deliveroo: The tribunal will determine the employment status of Deliveroo riders at the end of May 2017.

We will of course keep you updated with developments in this area. In the meantime if you are concerned about the status of any of the individuals who your company engages, please get in touch with us. We can help you assess their true status and consider any risks your company may face.


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