Thursday, July 9, 2020

Will the government allow a national minimum wage standard for the self-employed?

By Ian Lewis, senior consultant in company commercial law and employment law at Bray & Bray.

MP, Frank Field has urged the government to implement a national standard of fair work in the gig economy. This relates to people that are self-employed and working for large companies on an adhoc basis, carrying out services such as courier deliveries or driving taxis.

Many of the companies that employ gig economy workers rely on them being flexible and only providing work on-demand according to the needs of the company. This means that when the company has no need for the service provided by gig economy workers such as couriers, they do not have to pay them anything.

Employment rights for self-employed workers

Currently there is a national minimum wage in the UK of £7.20 for people that are employed and aged over 25. Under the regime that Frank Field is proposing, gig economy workers would be entitled to the national minimum wage, as well as to employment rights such as:

  • The right to challenge certain practices at their place of work
  • At least 4 weeks’ notice from an employer of an intention to change working patterns or withdraw work

One of Field’s arguments for implementing this regime, is that currently, employment tribunals and HM Revenue & Customs have to review pay related claims on the basis of whether a person is genuinely self-employed or not. The introduction of a national minimum wage for gig workers would alleviate the need for them to investigate this.

How the changes to minimum wage payment would work

It is not clear how this regime would work, as in some cases gig workers are employed by several employers for the same service. For example, a food delivery app may use the services of a food delivery person during the same day or night that the same person could be delivering for another, similar app. The question here would be who should then be paying that person the minimum wage, each hour.

Are the changes likely to happen?

It is entirely possible that the changes to a national minimum wage for gig workers could happen, especially if it was to be supported by some of the larger employers in the UK.

According to an article published by The Guardian, a spokesperson for the Taylor review, a review on modern employment practices which aims to ensure fairness in relation to aspects such as pay at work, said:

“As part of our country-wide evidence-gathering tour we are considering whether employment practices need to change to keep pace with modern business models – including the gig economy and use of agency workers. It is also considering the implications of new forms of work on worker rights and responsibilities – as well as on employer freedoms and obligations”.

Advice about your legal employment rights

Whatever your employment status, whether you are currently employed, working on a zero hour contract or if you are a so-called “gig worker”, employment law is continuously changing. If you are unsure whether you are being treated fairly or not, please do not hesitate to get in touch for some advice.

Contact an employment law solicitor

To speak to a specialist in employment law, call our team of employment lawyers today on 0116 254 8871. Alternatively, you can email me with any questions that you may have, directly at idlewis@braybray.co.uk

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