Ed Vaziey, former Minister of State for Culture, Communications, and Creative Industries and MP for Wantage, has called for self-employed workers in the “gig economy” to be paid the legal minimum wage.
Business models relying on self-employed workers have recently been under scrutiny after an employment tribunal declared that Uber’s taxi drivers should be entitled to basic working rights.
According to The Guardian, Vaizey spoke at an event in London on Tuesday about the impact of digital technology on the labour market and urged the Government to produce a “definition of a new kind of worker in the gig economy” as a “halfway house” between an employee and self-employed contractor.
“What is emerging from the current debate is an inchoate feeling that there is something out there called the gig economy that needs some definition,” said Vaizey. “I wonder whether the application of a minimum wage to people who work in the so-called gig economy might be one step forward.”
He said it would not necessarily mean employers would have to provide sick pay or holidays, but: “The minimum wage has effectively taken the place now of tax credits as a statutory intervention to support people on low pay.”
A source at a leading app company says applying a minimum wage would require restricting when people worked to ensure they were not paying wages at times when customer demand was low. They also asked whether time would be defined as when the worker was logged into the app and waiting for work, or only when they were on a job. They also question who would pay the minimum wage if a worker was using several employment apps at the same time.
Alan Milburn, the Chairman of the government’s social mobility taskforce, adds: “The time is right to strike a new deal, between big employers, in particular, and Government about what it is we expect to see employers discharge as their social obligations.
“What we should expect of employers is not just that they create jobs, but they create careers; how they design jobs not just to get people off welfare into work, but to give them the opportunity to progress. This is the time to strike a different relationship between the employing class and the governing class.”
Image courtesy of Department for Business, Innovation and skills.