IPSE: Postmaster dispute shows extent of “gig economy chaos and that government must step in”

IPSE has said the latest employment status dispute – in which 120 sub-postmasters have claimed the Post Office should treat them as workers not self-employed – is part of a “rising tide of evidence” that the government must introduce a statutory definition of self-employment into law.

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Currently there are only two defined employment statuses in UK law: “employee” and “worker”. Self-employment is outside these and undefined. IPSE has argued that to protect the freedom of the many legitimately self-employed people and also secure the rights of those who should properly be defined as workers, government should legally define self-employed status.

The sub-postmasters’ case has been brought to the Central London Employment Tribunal and could have implications for 8,500 sub-postmasters across the UK – and for the wider debate about employment status in the UK.

Andy Chamberlain, Director of Policy at IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed), said: “As we emerge from lockdown and survey the economic damage of the pandemic, more attention than ever is being focused on the UK labour market and the question of whether it can deliver good and secure work.

“The sub-postmasters’ employment tribunal comes on the back of a surge of gig economy cases. It is a rising tide of evidence that government must step in to clear the confusion in the gig economy and protect both freelancers and those who should properly be classed as workers.

“The crucial problem is that in the UK, while worker and employee status are defined, there is no such clarity on self-employment. This grey area is leading to the chaos of the gig economy and a situation where status can only be defined by lengthy employment tribunals: this cannot continue. To protect the freedom of the many legitimate freelancers – and also secure the rights of falsely self-employed people – government should define self-employed status in law.”

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IPSE is the leading association for contractors, consultants, interims, freelancers and the self-employed. We strive to bring our members the most comprehensive and useful range of information and services and all the latest news about what affects your business.

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