The gig economy must be harnessed to address skill shortages and uncertainty 0

gig economyThe legal status of  people working in the gig economy must be clarified so that businesses and individuals can thrive, according to a new report from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC).  Gig economy – The Uberisation of Work (registration needed) explores the impact of digital work platforms such as Upwork, Task Rabbit and, which act as ‘marketplaces matching freelancers with a wide range of project-based work’. The report suggests that almost a third of all UK employers will  use these kinds of digital work platforms by 2021. The REC has called on policy-makers to ensure that the gig economy is fair to self-employed workers and businesses, and to secure benefits for the UK wider economy. The report claims that this will become increasingly important as the gig economy becomes more mainstream, adding £45 billion to the UK economy and creating work for 766,000 people.

Key recommendations to government include:

  • Ensure that gig workers and businesses have recourse for instances of bad practice.
  • Clarify the legal and tax status of gig workers and ensure they get the same protections as other self-employed workers.
  • Look to services such as the Low Pay Commission to determine fair pay for gig workers.
  • Ensure the same rules governing the recruitment industry apply to digital work platforms, so that businesses can compete on a level playing field.

REC chief executive Kevin Green says:  “This is good news for employers who will welcome tools which help them access the global talent market. The UK is close to full employment and businesses across the economy need to react to skills shortages. Current uncertainty around how the UK’s relationship with the EU will affect the jobs market is another driver for innovation. Harnessing new technology which facilities gig working can provide real solutions to embedded labour market problems, but policymakers need to get to grips with these new trends so that the UK can make the most of opportunities. We must ensure that freelancers, interims and contractors who find work this way are protected. For the recruitment industry we want a level playing field on which to compete.”