The Gig Economy- What to expect in 2018

The great debate on who is a “worker” versus who is “self-employed” is expected to gain even more momentum in 2018 with two key cases heading to the Supreme Court.  Both cases are important for companies that have large numbers of “self-employed” individuals working for them to determine whether these workers are entitled to receive basic worker rights such as the national minimum wage and paid annual leave.

Details of the cases can be found below:

Pimlico Plumbers Ltd and another v Smith

In this case, a plumber successfully argued that he is in reality a worker, despite his contract framing him as self-employed. This meant that he was entitled to additional employment rights, as well as whistleblowing and discrimination protections. Pimlico Plumbers appeal is due to be heard by the Supreme Court on 20th and 21st February 2018.

Aslam and others v Uber BV and others

In this high-profile case, the company’s drivers were claiming that they were in fact workers. They succeeded as the court looked beyond the wording of their contracts and instead to the facts of the relationship with a particular focus on the control held by Uber over its drivers.  Uber’s appeal is expected to be heard in the Court of Appeal in 2018.

At the end of 2017, a cross-party group of MPs published draft legislation to more clearly assess worker status. Perhaps most importantly, this legislation puts forward a new “worker by default” status which would mean that if the worker complained to an employment tribunal they would be presumed to be a worker unless evidence of self-employed status is shown by the employer.

If this draft legislation is implemented, employers will suffer an increased burden in relation to the status and consequent rights of those who work for them.

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