Features

Gig economy report: a “forlorn tribute to compromise”

Matthew Taylor’s Good Work report on the gig economy has satisfied no one, which is as much as could be expected.

853-Deliveroo-634

Matthew Taylor's Good Work report on the "gig economy" has "satisfied no one" so he probably has "the balance about right", says The Daily Telegraph. Campaigners and trade unionists have called it a "missed opportunity" to put an end to the "exploitation" of self-employed workers, while some firms have expressed concern that it will affect their ability to hire.

The difficulty Taylor has and recognises is that Britain currently has record levels of employment, high levels of voluntary flexibility, and earnings that are rising fastest among the lowest paid. The key thing is "not to mess this up". He also realises that a job minus the protections of a staff job is "better than no job at all".

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Become a smarter, better informed investor with MoneyWeek.

So while Taylor sees a "role" for government to ensure all work is "fair and decent", it is hard to see how this can happen without regulation "inimical" to the flexibility he admires. And while unscrupulous employers do exist, "zero-hours contacts suit more employees than they harm", says The Times. People are "flocking" to provide services for app-based platforms such as Uber and Deliveroo.

The "real harm" such platforms do is to deprive the Treasury of "fair tax revenues" in the form of national insurance. Given all this, it is no wonder, says Rafael Behr in The Guardian, that Taylor's report "offers complex and incomplete answers" and "reads like a forlorn tribute to compromise".

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

It's too early to see whether the report will make any difference, says Rowena Mason in the same paper. Theresa May hasn't promised any legislation, merely that the government will "carefully study" the recommendations. These include ensuring that gig-economy workers have sick and holiday pay, and a definition of "dependent contractors" that prevents employers from incorrectly claiming workers are self-employed.

In any case, as the report's "stronger language" was reserved for the app-based gig economy a "small fraction" of Britain's five million army of self-employed the "broader impact" of any change would be small, says the FT. Tellingly, the share prices of groups with large numbers of low-paid staff, such as Tesco and Sports Direct, "barely moved".

Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/519858/how-long-can-the-good-times-roll
Economy

How long can the good times roll?

Despite all the doom and gloom that has dominated our headlines for most of 2019, Britain and most of the rest of the developing world is currently en…
19 Dec 2019
Visit/516944/why-wall-street-has-got-it-wrong-again
Economy

Why Wall Street has got the US economy wrong again

The hiring slowdown does not signal recession for the US economy. Growth is just moving down a gear, says Brian Pellegrini.
25 Oct 2019
Visit/516758/beyond-the-brexit-talk-the-british-economy-isnt-doing-too-badly
Economy

Beyond the Brexit talk, the British economy isn’t doing too badly

The political Brexit pantomime aside, Britain is in pretty good shape. With near-record employment, strong wage growth and modest inflation, there is …
17 Oct 2019
Visit/economy/people/600864/rishi-sunak-the-maharaja-of-the-yorkshire-dales
People

Rishi Sunak: the maharaja of the Yorkshire Dales

Rishi Sunak is taking the reins of the world’s fifth-largest economy at a crucial juncture. The unflashy but likeable youngster may be just the man fo…
20 Feb 2020

Most Popular

Visit/investments/stocks-and-shares/600863/sirius-minerals-anglo-american-takeover
Stocks and shares

Do you own shares in Sirius Minerals? Here’s what you need to do now

Mining giant Anglo American has proposed a cash takeover of Yorkshire-based minnow Sirius Minerals. Unhappy shareholders must decide whether to accept…
20 Feb 2020
Visit/investments/commodities/gold/600874/gold-is-at-its-highest-level-in-years-heres-how-to-invest
Gold

Gold is at its highest level in years – here’s how to invest

Gold's rise at a time when the dollar is unnervingly strong isn't unheard of – but it is curious. John Stepek explains what's going on, and what it me…
21 Feb 2020
Visit/investments/stocks-and-shares/share-tips/600843/share-tips-of-the-week
Share tips

Share tips of the week

MoneyWeek’s comprehensive guide to the best of this week’s share tips from the rest of the UK's financial pages.
21 Feb 2020
Visit/investments/stockmarkets/european-stockmarkets/600725/is-2020-the-year-for-european-small-cap
Sponsored

Is 2020 the year for European small-cap stocks?

SPONSORED CONTENT - Ollie Beckett, manager of the TR European Growth Trust, on why he believes European small-cap stocks are performing well.
12 Feb 2019