Harry Franks

The gig economy needs solutions that benefit both itself and its workers

2018 will be a crucial year for the gig economy in the UK. Only a couple of months ago, the work and pensions, and the business, energy, and industrial strategy committees of the House of Commons jointly presented a new framework for modern employment. This latest report adds to an already wide-ranging set of proposals from different stakeholders on how the gig economy should be reformed. The big question now is whether and how Government will respond.

Yet alongside any possible government action, several ongoing high-profile legal cases are bound to have a significant impact. The antagonism inherent to the court room has pitted platforms against workers, and created a polarised version of the gig economy as a zero-sum game, in which only one side can win at the expense of the other. This, in turn, is influencing the wider policy debate, with proponents of reform struggling to agree on a balanced and effective way forward.

For the gig economy to thrive in 2018 and beyond, this polarisation must end. The imperative is to implement and advance solutions that benefit both the growth of the on-demand economy and the wellbeing of those who work in it.

Many of the proposals put forward by Matthew Taylor, the expert commissioned by the government to conduct the independent review into modern working practices, point precisely in this direction – including an easier way for individuals and employers to determine employment status and advocating technology, such as portable benefits, to further support quality flexible work.

But equally as important will be the infrastructure that has started to grow up around the gig economy. In fact, this emerging infrastructure, designed specifically for the gig economy and therefore aligned to the needs of those working and providing work in it, is already supplying much of the support that policymakers hope to achieve via legislative means.

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