Gig economy workers demand basic employment rights with more than 1.3 million people ineligible for sick pay

Companies are trying to ‘have their cake and eat it’, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

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Hundreds of thousands of workers in the gig economy want guaranteed employment rights such as holiday pay, and say that the Government should take action, a new survey shows.

More than 1.3 million people are now working in casual part-time jobs without guaranteed hours or pay if they are sick, research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found. The majority of those surveyed (63 per cent) believe they should be legally entitled to the basic rights enjoyed by employees.

More than half felt firms were exploiting a lack of regulation and just 38 per cent said that they felt like their own boss.

Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, said the study showed many businesses were trying to “have their cake and eat it” by using supposedly self-employed workers while at the same time “maintaining a level of control over people that is more appropriate for a more traditional employment relationship”.

“This research shows the grey area that exists over people’s employment status in the gig economy,” he added.

Many self-employed workers may already be eligible for basic employment rights, Mr Cheese said, but are confused by their employment status. Currently, people can be defined as an employee, a worker or fully self-employed, with each category entitled to different rights.

Several high-profile legal cases have backed up the findings of the research. In October last year, employment tribunal judges lambasted Uber for not granting drivers employment rights.

“The notion that Uber in London is a mosaic of 30,000 small businesses linked by a common ‘platform’ is in our minds faintly ridiculous,” judges said, adding that Uber’s arguments were “absurd”.

Judges said the “supposed” contract between drivers and passengers was a “pure fiction which bears no relation to the real dealings and relationships between the parties”.

The Government has commissioned an independent review into modern ways of working to assess whether legal changes are necessary.

Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts began gathering evidence last month and is due to report in the summer.