Inquiry launched into the future world of work

Last year saw many examples of changes to workers’ rights, indicating how the future world of work may be structured. Several well-known businesses were the subject of review and criticism. Highly publicised reports on the practices of Sports Direct, Deliveroo and Hermes (to name a few) showed failings to meet standards which are ‘acceptable in a modern, civilised society’. Issues brought to light included improper contract terms and working conditions, preventing workers’ rights to make a claim, and failing to pay the minimum wage.

Employers such as these have often used the defence that their workers do not hold employee status and are therefore not entitled to certain rights. But false self-employment is another area that was closely reviewed last year.

In the high-profile case of Aslam and others v Uber BV and others, an employment tribunal considered the status of workers in the ‘gig economy’, which describes a freelance model of working different to the usual 9-5. This way of working is becoming increasingly popular and workers status has been uncertain in this area. In this case, where Uber argued that their drivers were self-employed, the tribunal verified that the claimants were workers and were entitled to rights such as national minimum wages and holiday pay. The decision was based largely on how much control Uber had over the drivers, and shows that just because an individual is labelled ‘self-employed’ does not mean they are.

As a result of cases and reports like these, an inquiry into the future world of work has been launched. This will consist of a nation-wide review focusing on the rapidly changing nature of work, as well as the status and rights of agency workers, the self-employed, and those working in the gig economy. It will consider the definition of “worker”, look at job security, employer obligations and many other aspects of this topic to assess what can be done going forward.

Employers need to make sure that they are clear on the status of their staff

Are they employees, workers or self-employed? Even if a status is clearly stated in a contract or elsewhere, the actions and practices of the employer must reflect this. Employers need to look out for important updates and judgements such as that in the Uber case and ensure that they are allowing all of their staff the rights which they are entitled to.

If you have questions on the status of your employees or need assistance with drafting contracts of employment, please get in touch with your dedicated Risk Management contact, who will be happy to help. If you would like assistance and are not currently a Risk Management client, please call 0345 040 0002 and ask for the Employment Law team.



Aslam and others v Uber BV and others