Are Gig Economy Employers Trying To Have Their Cake & Eat It?

Deliveroo were at the House of Commons last week arguing for change.

It’s as clear as mud – Uber and Deliveroo don’t want to employ their drivers and delivery riders because it would be too expensive and eat into their profits…oh, no, sorry it’s because it would “restrict the flexibility” of their “freelancers”…hmmm how many of them would snap your hand off if you offered them full employment status, chaps?

Either way, both of these “gig-economy” proponents say they want to help staff by providing them with added benefits, but that the law is preventing them from doing so.

So says Deliveroo MD Dan Warne; to be precise, he said “we are very supportive of the idea if perhaps you have certain riders who work longer hours they should be entitled to benefits. That is something we hope the government would consider looking at.”

“There is very little clarity in employment law, you don’t know where the line is”, adds Uber’s UK head of public policy, Andrew Byrne.

To be fair, they have a point. The gig economy is new, and like it or loathe it, it is not going away. It suits some workers, and for others, it’s a nightmare.

So is this a government issue?

Yes, in our opinion the government needs to instruct somebody to look at the law. The Daily Telegraph say that Economic thinktank The Resolution Foundation believe that rising self-employment will cost the tax-payer more than £6bn by 2020 in National Insurance Contributions.

It kind of feels like gig-economy companies took the path of the least resistance – they wanted to do things a certain way – and there were tonnes of workers who wanted to help them do it. Was it short-termism? Law-dodging? Maybe a bit, but it worked, and the “fools” rushed in where the “angels” feared to tread.

It feels like the gig-economy is a halfway house, a movement that has started that is unlikely to finish in the same place. We are mid-revolution. Where is our Napoleon?

Busy conducting an internal investigation into sexual harassment like Travis K? Playing golf with Rory McIllroy, like Donald T? Buying up WeWork, like Masayoshi S?

Or is it up to the everyday worker to decide how they want to live their lives…with a little help from the agency they pay their taxes to?

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