The gig economy: what needs to change?

By Gemma Dunn on Monday, 12 June 2017

Last week Teamspirit hosted a Fintech for Good meetup event focused on the gig economy. With the gig economy such a hot topic in the media, and the shift away from traditional working affecting an increasing number of businesses and members of society, a panel of experts set out to uncover the sustainability of the gig economy and debate its dangers and merits.

The panel was chaired by Glen Kieran, Founder, FutureBusinessForum and comprised Steve Mosser, CEO of Sensée, Phil Flaxton, CEO of WorkWise, Helen Corden, Employment Partner, Pinsent Masons and Paul Sellers, Senior Policy Advisor, TUC.

Putting the gig economy in context, 4% of working adults aged between 18 and 70 are working in the gig economy, according to the CIPD, with approximately 1.3 million people now working two jobs or more. According to RSA, 7.9 million people say they would be interested in being part of the gig economy.

The panel discussed the fact that while these gig economy workers are often waiters, delivery drivers, and Uber drivers, many do in fact work this way by choice, enjoying the freedom, variety and flexibility that this way of working brings. Others of course do it out of necessity when, for instance, they cannot secure a full-time job with a sufficient income and benefits to support a family.

There was discussion around the halo effect of the gig economy, which has allowed it to expand quite rapidly in the last couple of years, and how this may dry up unless it is regulated.

The panel agreed the burden of proof should be on employers to show people are not employed if they want to avoid giving them the same rights as full-time employees. This could become particularly pertinent post-Brexit when businesses are competing for those freelance workers who can be more flexible.

It will be interesting to see how employment legislation changes in the wake of technology developments and new business models which facilitate the gig economy. We’ll be watching closely and working with our clients to support them transition into the new world of work, in whatever form it may take.

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