Default employment status for ‘gig’ economy workers?

Print publication


The Law Society has responded to the Government’s call for evidence on the future world of work and rights of workers with the game-changing suggestion that people working in the gig economy should be assumed to have employment status and the right to paid holiday and the national minimum wage unless the employer can demonstrate otherwise.

The Society suggests that an employment status ‘default position’, which exists in certain other countries, might be beneficial in the UK. It argues that the existing law, with its separate definitions of ‘worker’ and ‘employee’, causes too much uncertainty.  We have certainly seen the effect of this uncertainty in the recent high-profile cases of Uber and Citysprint.

Default employment status (where it is up to the employer to disprove it rather than the worker to prove it) would represent a seismic change in our current employment law although we do seem to be living in an age where stranger things can happen! Recent case law developments and the general direction of travel shown by Government and HRMC inquiries and reviews mean that default employment status cannot be completely ruled out as a possible future development in the longer term.  Affected employers will want to keep this issue on their radar as a possible future strategic challenge.