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Committees issue joint report

MPs say exploitation in gig economy must end


Pressure is mounting to close gig economy loopholes

MPs will today demand the closure of loopholes allowing “self-employment” to be used as a way to hide behind cheap labour and avoid paying tax.

Two Commons committees – Work and Pensions and the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee – are publishing a joint report and draft Bill saying the law must not allow companies to exploit workers in order to gain competitive advantage.

Frank Field, chairman of the Work and Pensions committee, said: “The two committees are today presenting the Prime Minister with an opportunity to fulfil the promise she made on the steps of Downing Street on her first day in office, with a draft Bill that would end the mass exploitation of ordinary, hard-working people in the gig economy.

“The Bill would put good business on a level playing field, not being undercut by bad business. 

“It is time to close the loopholes that allow irresponsible companies to underpay workers, avoid taxes and free ride on our welfare system.”

Rachel Reeves, chairman of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee, said: “Uber, Deliveroo and others like to bang the drum for the benefits of flexibility for their workforce but currently all the burden of this flexibility is picked up by taxpayers and workers. This must change.

“We say that companies should pay higher wages when they are asking people to work extra hours or on zero-hours contracts.

“Recent cases demonstrate a need for greater clarity in the law to protect workers. Responsible businesses deserve a level-playing field to compete, not a system which rewards unscrupulous businesses.

“We need new laws but also much tougher enforcement, to weed out those businesses seeking to exploit complex labour laws, and workers, for their competitive advantage.

Neil Carberry, CBI managing director for people and infrastructure, said:Businesses believe we must have both flexibility and fairness in our jobs market, delivering good working conditions for all.

“The CBI and its members are ready to step up to deliver this, and will welcome ideas like a clearer statement of terms and conditions for all workers.

“But many of the proposals in this report – such as on agency workers and employment status – will be a concern for firms all over the country.

“Based on a very limited review of the evidence, the committees have brought forward proposals that close off flexibility for firms to grow and create jobs, when the issues that have been raised can be addressed by more effective enforcement action and more targeted changes to the law.

“The Taylor Review report offered an insightful picture on the challenges we must face together to improve our labour market – but the solutions to address this must be developed with businesses, and designed to ensure that those who enjoy working in flexible ways do not have opportunities closed off to them.”

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