The government should take action to end the “rampant injustice” facing some workers in the gig economy, according to a report by the MP Frank Field, who is chair of the work and pensions select committee.
He is calling for a fast-track system for employment tribunals involving worker status cases, as well as the introduction of a single labour market regulator. The report says there is evidence some companies continue to exploit workers whom they had wrongly classified as independent contractors.
“Unions are caught up in court cases that are going on for seven years. The idea that the law is working is farcical,” Field said. “We want to build up a unit that is a ‘people’s friend’ that they can go to and they know they are not going to be passed on to somewhere else which has not got the resources” Field added. “The regulator should be able to keep its fines to pay for itself.”
Field said employment tribunals should be given powers to fast-track worker status cases and recommend their findings are applied on a company-wide basis. In a string of recent cases, companies have avoided widespread reform, arguing that tribunal findings relate only to the individuals involved.
“The laws governing work in the gig economy are inadequate,” the report says. “There is virtually no proactive enforcement mechanism to prevent workers being misclassified as ‘independent contractors’ and subjected to bogus forms of self- employment. The onus currently falls on individual workers to enforce the law.”