Clarifying employment laws to distinguish Workers (or “dependent contractors”) from the genuinely self-employed will be a particularly complex task and not one that should be taken lightly argues Dave Chaplin, founder and CEO of ContractorCalculator. Chaplin acknowledges that the Taylor Review has faced some crucial challenges, particularly regarding the rights of lower-paid vulnerable workers and he welcomes better legislation around providing protection to workers who are forced into self-employment when they should be classed as workers and have rights.
Said Dave Chaplin:
“Whilst we applaud the sentiments of the report and it’s goals, solving the issues will not be easy. One of the inherent challenges with employment status case law is that the layman, without an understanding of the case law assumes the laws align with the common sense view of what it means to be employed, but this is far from the truth of the complexities involved. The stark reality is that anyone calling for “a simple test of employment or worker” is akin to calls to find the Holy Grail. If it was that easy it would have been done decades ago.
“It is however now vitally important to distinguish between low-skilled, low-paid workers in the gig economy, who are vulnerable to exploitation, and highly skilled, well-remunerated contracting professionals who have actively chosen to freelance over salaried employment. We know from research we conducted last year that 80% of self-employed high-end professionals do not want rights or benefits so we do not need any more onerous legislation that reduces the flexibility of the whole market simply to protect one sub-section. The inequality comes in the bargaining power that up until now has been cleverly exploited by platform-based companies to advance gig-working arrangements. Unlike conventional employers, these companies do not pay their workers for any intervals between jobs which enables them to circumvent employment law which benefits the companies who then avoid paying for standby time between jobs.
“Any future legislation to protect workers engaged by companies like these needs to factor in protections, rights and benefits so I applaud Matthew Taylor’s proposal on this point. But, trying to deliver clarity and enforcement of employment status is a tremendously impossible task and any legislative moves towards simplicity may result in unintended and destructive consequences for the UK economy, just at the wrong time as we plan to leave Europe.”