The Gig Economy in the U.K.: Growth, Issues and Predictions

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The “gig” or “platform” economy is a worldwide phenomenon. Whether car service drivers or skilled online freelancers, it is present and growing in many countries in every region across the world.

Not only is it an enormous pool of labor, the gig economy may also represent potential sourcing networks, since generally workers are connected through various digital platforms. But for now, while the gig economy is growing across the globe, labor issues and legal uncertainties are common.

Our colleagues at Spend Matters UK/Europe covered this subject in their review of a recently published article, “The future of work: Six predictions on how proposed changes in the law will affect staffing companies, online platforms and users of their services.” The article is written by two legal experts from the law firm Osborne Clarke, probably the most consulted law firm on the subject in the E.U. (I know this from my many discussions with online work platform executives which said they have used the firm.)

So, what are the six areas contingent labor practitioners need to be aware of? Regular Spend Matters readers will recognize many of these areas:

  • New rules about zero-hours working, including agency and platform working
  • Impact of AI and robotics on jobs and incomes
  • Employment status of gig workers
  • Further attacks on perceived tax avoidance in the staffing supply chain and gig economy
  • Changes to the Agency Workers Regulations
  • Increased regulatory focus on online staffing platforms and staffing companies

As our colleagues across the pond noted, procurement professionals have already seen changes in these areas playing out in their jobs.

“We’ve seen this year a clamp-down in the public sector on ‘false self-employment’ and debates about IR34 that caused many problems for hiring government departments and NHS bodies, as well as for the contractors affected. Might we see similar events impacting private sector employers too in coming years? That also links into the rights of “gig workers”, and those employed (or not employed) by Uber, Deliveroo and the like. It certainly seems very likely that the Taylor Review will make recommendations about increasing the rights of such workers.”

To read the Spend Matters UK/Europe post and link to the complete article, click here.

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