Work and Pensions Secretary, Damian Green, described the trend in employment practices towards the so-called “gig economy” as “exciting” and that the changes had “huge potential”.
The Cabinet minister’s endorsement of the approach follows just a month after an employment tribunal found that drivers for the Uber car service should receive the minimum wage as well as paid holiday. The tribunal dismissed the taxi company’s claim that its drivers were in fact self–employed and not entitled to these rights.
At the Reform think-tank on Wednesday morning, Mr Green said, “Just a few years ago the idea of a proper job meant a job that brings in a fixed monthly salary, with fixed hours, paid holidays, sick pay, a pension scheme and other contractual benefits.
“But the gig economy has changed all that. We’ve seen the rise of the everyday entrepreneur. People now own their time and control who receives their services and when.
“They can pick and mix their employers, their hours, their offices, their holiday patterns. This is one of the most significant developments in the labour market. The potential is huge and the change is exciting.”
He also used the speech to debate that the private sector and voluntary sector should be more involved in the provision of welfare services.
“The Government is a necessary, but not sufficient provider of welfare,” he said.
He made a small concession to critics of the Government’s benefit sanctions system, announcing that he would extend hardship payments available to sanctioned people to a wider group.
The “gig economy” is the idea that technological change will make stable jobs less prevalent and that more people will instead work various casual “gigs” as a self-employed person.
A significant growth in the numbers of people self-employed in recent years has however revealed that those who are self-employed are affected by falling incomes.
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