The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices, written by former policy chief Matthew Taylor, calls for cash-in-hand companies to switch to payment platforms in order to benefit workers. The gig economy, he says, gives too much power to the employer and one-sided flexibility puts all the risk on the workers.
The gig economy is a term that refers to jobs that are made up of short-term contracts and freelance work. It is estimated that in 2017 there are 1.1 million gig workers, including jobs in accountancy, legal and consultancy work, skilled manual work and delivery and courier jobs such as Deliveroo and Uber.
The advantage of gig work is the flexibility but it offers little protection and Taylor’s review says that by classifying workers at platform-based companies as dependent contractors, they would not run the risk of getting stuck on the National Living Wage. Transferring from cash payments to platforms like PayPal and WorldPay would allow workers to pay tax and National Insurance which in turn would allow them to claim benefits such as a pension.
Taylor’s report highlighted the importance of embracing these kinds of jobs and being able to tax them appropriately. Trade unions, however, have criticized the report. The leader of the Unite union, Len McCluskey, said the report “spectacularly failed to deliver” on “the hope that work would once again pay and there would be no profit in exploitation.”
Prime Minister Theresa May warned, in her first public speech since the election, that a ban on zero-hours contracts would “harm more people than it would help.”