Most gig workers want better rights

UberEats delivery riders strike and protest in London in 2017
Stephen Chung/LNP/REX/Shutterstock

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of “gig economy” workers believe the Government should guarantee them basic employment rights and benefits, with only four in 10 (38%) saying they feel like their own boss.

A report from the CIPD finds 4% of workers (approx 1.3 million people) are in the gig economy with 14% saying they did gig work because they could not find alternative employment. The most common reason for taking on gig work was to boost income (32%).

The research found that gig economy workers are equally likely to be satisfied with their work (46%) as other workers in more traditional employment are with their jobs (48%).

However, there were concerns raised by some workers about the level of control exerted over them by the businesses they worked for, despite them being classified as self-employed.

Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, said: “Our research suggests that some gig economy businesses may be seeking to have their cake and eat it by using self-employed contractors to cut costs, while at the same time trying to maintain a level of control over people that is more appropriate for a more traditional employment relationship.

“Many people in the gig economy may already be eligible for basic employment rights, but are confused by the issue of their employment status.”

The research also found that:

  • More than half (57%) of gig economy workers agree that gig economy firms are exploiting a lack of regulation;
  • Half (50%) believe that people working in the gig economy choose to sacrifice job security and workers’ benefits in exchange for greater flexibility and independence; and
  • Gig economy workers were equally likely to agree (36%) as disagree (35%) that “the gig economy should not be regulated and companies should compete to offer workers fair pay and benefits, even if it means less income and job security for people”.

The report also reveals that only a quarter (25%) of gig economy workers say it is their main job, suggesting most use it to boost their overall income rather than depend on it.

However, 60% say they do not get enough work on a regular basis in the gig economy, and the research shows that income earned from gig work is typically low, with median reported income ranging from £6 to £7.70 per hour.

Peter Cheese continued: “The research shows the challenge that policy-makers face in regulating the gig economy and finding the right balance between providing flexibility for businesses and employment protection for individuals.”

The CIPD report is based on a survey of 400 gig economy workers and more than 2,000 other workers, as well as 15 in-depth interviews with gig economy workers.

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