PROTECTING GIG ECONOMY WORKERS: 24th November 2020
I wrote today to Mims Davies MP, Minister for Employment, following my debate last week on the Future of Work. During the debate, I asked her to confirm that the UK Government would commit to abiding by the judgment of the High Court in a case brought by the IWGB Trade Union, in its fight for equal protection between those who work in the gig economy and those on standard employment contracts. The High Court ruled that UK legislation is defective as it provides such workers with no entitlement to PPE (as UK legislation does for employees) and does not protect them (in the same way as employees) in the event that they withdraw their labour because of a perceived threat to their health.
Minister Davies response implied that this was a matter for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. However, as the DWP was the lead department in the case, and she is the Minister responsible for the HSE, is clearly not correct in that assertion. It is perplexing that a Minister could be so confused about her own responsibilities.
There can be no doubt that one of the groups most adversely impacted by the Covid pandemic has been people in precarious and low paid work. Some of them have found themselves in most difficult circumstances, ineligible for both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.
The impact of Covid makes it more important than ever before to clarify the law on employment status, to protect people’s rights at work. The UK Government must commit to ensuring that all workers are supported and kept safe at work.
After getting no answer from the Prime Minister on this matter yesterday, and this confused response from the Minister responsible in the debate last week, I will continue to pursue this issue.