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Demands for more protection for gig economy workers

David Clift
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Nine in ten employers and employees agree that gig economy workers need more rights and protections; 43 percent of businesses employ gig economy workers. Nearly half (45 percent) of employers who don’t currently hire gig economy workers said they would in future. Contributor David Clift, HR Director, totaljobs

Thirty-six percent YOY increase in applications & 24 percent increase in job ads within the gig economy. Businesses and employees are calling on the UK Government to provide more protection for those who work in the gig economy. In a survey of nearly 5,000 workers and over 100 businesses by leading jobs board totaljobs, 90 percent of employees and 87 percent of employers said that more regulations were needed to protect the rights of gig workers.

Growing the gig economy
The gig economy has been on the rise for several years and 64 percent of employers believe it’s importance will only continue to grow in the next year, as individuals turn to self-employment in favour of more flexible working arrangements.  This is backed up by an annual 24 percent increase in the number of contract and freelance roles advertised, and a 36 percent rise in candidate applications, according to totaljobs.

It’s predicted that five million people work in the gig economy in the UK, representing around 16 percent of the total full and part-time workforce. 43 percent of businesses surveyed said they already employ gig workers and almost half of those (45 percent) who don’t, said that they would do so in the future.

Flexibility helps employers and employees
35 percent of gig workers said they did so because of the greater flexibility it offers compared to the traditional nine-to-five, 32 percent said it’s because they couldn’t find full or part-time work, whilst one in five (22 percent) said it was to get experience in a different industry.

There are benefits for businesses too. 79 percent of employers said they employed gig economy workers to offer flexibility to their business. 40 percent said it’s to fill a gap in the team, and over a third (35 percent) said it’s to help them scale their operations up or down.

David Clift, HR Director, totaljobs, said: “It’s great to see that employers and employees are united in calling for broader rights and protections for those working within the gig economy. Public awareness of the gig economy focuses primarily on courier services and drivers, but it’s vital to remember that more and more people from a wide range of sectors are adopting flexible working options. With the Taylor Review highlighting the issue some four months ago, our research shows that all sides are on the same page, and waiting on ministers to make improvements to protect freelance, contract and zero-hours workers.”

Plugging the economy’s productivity gap
The gig economy could also provide a solution to the problems with the UK’s productivity, which fell for a second quarter in a row in the three months to June. 80 percent of employers said that employees who work flexibly were more productive in the workplace. There could also be unexpected benefits for unemployment which is currently at its lowest level since 1975 as 41 percent of unemployed people in the UK said they’d consider working in the gig economy.

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