Frank Field MP
Your MP for Birkenhead
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Playing catch-up in the gig economy


11 November 2016
FT

Sir, Any attempt to play down the growth and significance of the gig economy in the post-Brexit and Trump age will not run. It will succeed only in misrepresenting a fundamental change that is taking place within Britain’s flexible labour market (November 10).

 

The full impact of the gig economy on working life cannot be gleaned from looking only at the numbers of people with more than one job in this fast-growing sector. It can instead be gauged by tracking the numbers of “self-employed” people working full-time, with set shifts and performance targets to meet, for one company.

It is the recent growth in the number of workers caught up in this grey area of self-employment that points to a more fundamental shift. I have asked the Office for National Statistics to look into this phenomenon. But the early evidence I have gathered on one delivery company suggests a growing pool of its workers are putting in the hours every week for an hourly wage that falls way below the legal minimum that would be applicable if they were deemed to be employees.

Herein lies a crunch issue the prime minister will need to negotiate as part of her mission to help people who are just about getting by. Her first move — calling HMRC to attention — could not have been better. She must ensure this is but the first move in forging a new deal between workers and companies in the gig economy.

Frank Field MP

House of Commons

London SW1, UK




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