Gig economy update

13.07.2017

We have reported on a number of cases this year concerning the gig economy and the increasingly-controversial ‘worker’ status which falls somewhere between employees and self-employed contractors. This month, there is another recent case to discuss and also the publication of the Taylor Review.
The employment tribunals have tackled this issue again in the recent case, Boxer -v- Excel Group Services 2017. In this case, the Tribunal held that an Excel cycle courier was a worker rather than being in business on his own account. As Excel had gone into liquidation by the time of the hearing, Excel did not make any representations and Mr Boxer’s evidence was uncontested – meaning this decision will be of limited importance going forwards. Nonetheless, echoing other cases this year, the Tribunal found that the contractual documentation did not reflect the reality of the situation, and Mr Boxer was in fact working under Excel’s direction and was required to provide personal service.
“Good work: the Taylor review of modern practices” (available here) was published earlier this week. This report was set up in part as a response to recent concerns about the gig economy and how worker status is functioning in practice. This is a substantial report with a number of different recommendations, including proposals to:
• Maintain the threefold distinction between employees, workers, and the self-employed, but to replace the time ‘worker’ with ‘dependent contractor’ instead;
• Amend the relevant legislation to better reflect the principles established by the case law;
• Remove the requirement for dependent contractors to have a contract to perform services personally (consequently reducing the relevance / importance of substitution clauses). Instead, when looking at dependent contractor status, the focus should be on control;
• Dependant contractors should be treated as employees for tax purposes.
It remains to be seen which proposals, if any, the government will proceed with. We will keep you updated.

Justin Costley

Author