A ruling by the European Court of Justice could re-shape the gig economy and award paid leave to contractors. But, while temporary gig workers win victories in the courts, will new rights be enforceable in real-world situations?
Christmas comes early for self-employed workers
We often talk about the future of work and how employment may change in the coming years. This week revealed one more piece of the future-work jigsaw puzzle, as a court ruled on gig workers’ rights.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) heard the case of an unsecured British worker employed in the gig economy. The claimant, identified as Mr King, operated under a commission-based contract for by the Sash Window Workshop Limited. However, his position gave no legal entitlement to paid leave. A previous employment tribunal found that Mr King should have been treated as a full-time worker. Under such an agreement, he would have enjoyed access to additional rights.
The ECJ ruling reinforced the earlier decision: Mr King should have been permitted to carry over unspent annual leave.
The ruling is the most recent in a series of high profile court cases that have limited the extent of exploitation within the so-called ‘gig economy’. In September, the private taxi hire firm Uber lost a tribunal case against two of its workers regarding their status in the gig economy. The tribunal upheld the drivers’ claim that they operated as employees of Uber. An appeal on the ruling in November then decided in favour of the workers once more.
Along with GDPR and the Uber ruling, the ECJ decision could mean big changes to hiring culture in 2018. Exploitation in the gig economy remains a source of criticism. However, a growing portion of the labour market also prizes flexibility in their work as a top priority. Striking a balance between fairness and casual employment may become a core factor in shaping our future of work.
Chancellor’s Autumn Budget: IR35 for private sector
A week on from the Chancellor’s atumn budget, and analysts are beginning to get to grips with the implications of some of Philip Hammond’s more significant changes.
Beyond personal tax allowance adjustments and stamp duty headline-grabbers, was the potentially more challenging issue of tax status for contractors within the private sector.
The chancellor used his budget speech to announce a consultation into the possible application of IR35 in the private sector. Earlier in the year, the controversial tax assessment policy was criticised when it was introduced in the public sector. Its use resulted in increased tax liabilities for contingency and locum doctors within the NHS. At the time, some commentators feared the costs would be passed on to the understaffed health service.
The consultation suggests the chancellor is considering IR35 for the private sector some time in the future.
Q4 opens with a recruitment dip for contractors
New market data from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) has found a drop in the hire rate for contractors at the start of the fourth quarter of 2017.
The survey results show that short-term positions fell by 10 per cent in October, year-on-year. The amount of contractors currently engaged in work fell 8 per cent during the same period.
A further breakdown of the data finds a notable 30 per cent fall in IT professionals currently engaged on short term contracts. Rises in engineering and financial contractors over the same period compensate for the overall figures. The two sectors grew their army of short term staff by 17 per cent (in engineering) and 7 per cent (finance) over the last twelve months.: