IPSE responds to Frank Field’s ‘gig economy’ open letter


IPSE’s Director of Policy Simon McVicker reacts to Frank Field MP’s open letter to Politics Home about the gig economy:

“Overall, the gig economy is a positive development not just for the UK economy as a whole, but also for the vast majority of people working in it.

“The reality – contrary to the myths being circulated – is that most people have chosen to work in the gig economy because it gives them real flexibility and the chance to be their own boss. Many use it as a way to fit their work around their lives, or to supplement their existing income.

“As for the minority who are working in the gig economy because they were unable to find traditional full-time employment, in most cases these are people who would otherwise have been shut out of the labour market. Uber and other gig economy companies give them a way back in.

“And in terms of Uber, it isn’t actually a new or unusual way of working. Drivers using the Uber app today are self-employed, just as private hire drivers have been for generations. Uber and other similar gig economy companies have just opened the industry out to give more people access to flexible, well-paid work.

“It is true, however, that there is some uncertainty about the status of people working in the gig economy. To clear up this confusion and ensure that unscrupulous companies can’t take advantage of the uncertainty, the government should adopt a statutory definition of self-employment.

“At present, the only recourse gig economy workers have to clear up this confusion is through the courts. They should not have to pay fees and navigate the complexities of employment tribunals just to clarify their status. A statutory definition of self-employment would eliminate this problem and make it clear who is self-employed and who needs greater rights and protections.”

Meet the author

Simon McVicker

Director of Policy