Kavitha’s keynote: Gig economy workers under the spotlight yet again

Kavitha's keynote

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court put those working in the so-called ‘gig economy’ firmly under the spotlight yet again.

In Pimlico Plumbers and Charlie Mullins v Gary Smiththe court determined that Smith – who was self-employed and VAT registered – qualified as a worker. In doing so, it dismissed an appeal put forward by Pimlico Plumbers and its CEO and founder, Charlie Mullins, who described the outcome as “a poor decision” which will “lead to a tsunami of claims.”

Whether this is true remains to be seen, but the case has inevitably thrown into question the rights of gig economy workers once more.

On one hand, according to some law firms, the ruling is not a game-changer, and gig economy workers have been warned not to view it as a ‘win’. On the other hand, the outcome is clearly going to give some contractors the confidence to challenge their own employment statuses with a view to improving their rights.

With so much uncertainty and a number of high-profile cases still pending, perhaps now is the time for the government to introduce legislation to steer businesses in the right direction when it comes to categorising their workforce, to ensure both parties benefit from the working arrangements.

And, while on the topic of fair deals, in a landmark agreement the BBC will introduce a new minimum salary of £20,000 from 1 August 2018, and will modernise its terms and conditions.

The deal, which follows two years of negotiations, was agreed by The Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union (Bectu), the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and Unite. And, although the agreement includes a three-year pay deal and simplification of contractual arrangements, an important part of it centres around a fresh approach to organisational flexibility and work-life balance.

Only last week, we published an article on the organisations that have been recognised for having the best work-life balance in the UK, according to research by recruitment website Indeed. I think we would all do well to remember that there is much to be gained by supporting this balance, both for employers as well as employees. When employees are performing at their best, organisations will reap the rewards.