The majority of gig-economy workers want employment rights

Some 1.3m people in the UK are workers in the gig economy, the human resources trade body CIPD estimates, with 63 per cent saying the government should regulate to ensure workers rights, City AM reports.

Gig economy workers are largely classed as self-employed, but just two in five say they feel like their own boss, something the CIPD say highlights this grey area on legal status.

“This research shows the grey area that exists over people’s employment status in the gig economy,” said the group’s chief executive Peter Cheese.

“Our research suggests that some gig economy businesses may be seeking to have their cake and eat it by using self-employed contractors to cut costs, while at the same time trying to maintain a level of control over people that is more appropriate for a more traditional employment relationship.”

It comes amid major investigations into the gig economy and world of work – the Taylor review and an inquiry by the work and pensions committee – following a landmark employment tribunal which ruled that Uber drivers are not self-employed. A similar ruling was given in a case brought by a plumber working for Pimlico Plumbers. Both companies are appealing the ruling.

But, the research of 2,000 workers, 200 in the gig economy as well as 15 in-depth interviews with them, also found that most gig economy workers are boosting their existing income with such work (32 per cent) and only 14 per cent because they have haven’t been able to find other employment.

A quarter said it was their main job and while 60 per cent said they do not get enough regular work half said they were satisfied with earnings compared to 19 per cent who were not. Rates of satisfaction were found to be higher than in traditional jobs and dissatisfaction lower.

And, gig economy worker were found to be broadly as happy as general workers – 46 per cent compared with 48 per cent.

“It is crucial that the government deals with the issue of employment status before attempting to make sweeping changes, else they risk building foundational changes on shifting sands,” said Cheese, calling on the government to fully consult on the “complex issue”.

Members of the London assembly last week added their voice to calls to give more rights to Uber drivers.