The FT reported that “Labour has watered down plans to strengthen workers’ rights”, with rights for gig workers being one of the main sources of this dilution. Labour’s national policy forum last month decided to get rid of the party’s 2021 pledge to create a single employee status, rather than the current system which has ‘worker’ status in-between being an employee and self-employed.
The status quo is problematic for gig workers who are often not genuinely self-employed, and tribunals regularly concluded that they are ‘workers’ (rather than employees) – meaning that they receive fewer statutory rights than employees. If there was a single employee status, as pledged by Labour, then falsely self-employed gig workers who go to tribunal would likely be concluded as employees, and therefore benefit from receiving additional rights and benefits.
Backtracking on their previous policy, Labour is now proposing to consult on whether a “simpler framework” can “properly capture the breadth of employment relationships in the UK” while ensuring that workers can “benefit from flexible working where they choose to do so”. This has led the Unite union to accuse Labour of rowing back on its plans in order to “curry favour with big business.”
However, Angela Rayner MP, the party’s deputy leader, has insisted that Labour still intends to tackle false self-employment.