MPs set out proposals to close gig economy “loopholes”

Today two of Parliament’s most influential committees have published draft proposals

The debate over the best response to the increasing number of jobs coming under the gig economy umbrella shows no sign of dying down.

For employers such as Uber, Deliveroo and CitySprint the working arrangements offer individuals often desired flexibility, while trade unions protest that companies are championing a “bogus” form of self-employment which denies people many key employment rights.

Today two of Parliament’s most influential committees (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Work and Pensions) have published draft proposals, piling extra pressure on the Government to re-examine whether current legislation is fit for purpose.

The feeling of some MPs is that it is not and today’s recommendations outline ways in which members believe that the Government can close what they perceive to be loopholes. Some of their suggestions pick up on recommendations made by the Matthew Taylor report, a review that the Government had itself commissioned to consider present day working practices.

Frank Field, the famously outspoken chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, said that the draft bill would end “mass exploitation.”

“The Bill would put good business on a level playing field, not being undercut by bad business,” he said. “It is time to close the loopholes that allow irresponsible companies to underpay workers, avoid taxes and free ride on our welfare system.”

MPs hope that their proposals would bring much needed clarity to some of the issues which have been at the heart of a number of high-profile Employment Tribunals.

Headline measures include clarification of how the various types of employment status are defined and a presumption that all those who work for businesses above a certain size will be considered workers.

These suggestions have inevitably polarised opinion. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) fears that MPs have drawn up the proposals based on quite limited evidence, while trade union leaders believe what is being put forward does not go far enough to address their concerns.

It is thought 1.6million Britons now work in the gig economy; a considerable proportion of the nation’s five million strong self-employed workforce.