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Regulating the Scope of Employment in the Gig Economy: Towards Enhanced Rights at Work in the Age of Uber

Author:

Luca Deon

Abstract

The growth of the gig economy sector presents challenges for employment lawyers. Firms such as Uber label their workforce as ‘independent contractors’, meaning many in the gig economy often lie outside the parameters of employment protection laws. Fortunately, recent cases show that courts are not prevented by the mere label of ‘independent contractor’ from holding those working in the gig economy as workers. However, as this paper argues, it is not satisfactory to rely solely on litigation to enhance rights at work in the gig economy. The Taylor Review 2017 suggests that updatingstatutory definitions of personal scope is needed to address the issue. Many commentators and think tanks have labelled this proposal as too pragmatic and argue that a uniform testof employment is preferable. The main thesis of this paper is that pragmatic change, building on the progress made in case law, would be more effective. This is because the retention of an intermediary category of worker, or ‘dependent contractor’, allowsfor both flexibility and enhanced rights. Nonetheless, the government has not implemented any form of legislative change, meaning that over one million people in the gig economy remain without the rights they should be entitled to. This paper concludes that legislative change is therefore greatly needed to protect gig economy workers.
How to Cite: Deon, L., 2020. Regulating the Scope of Employment in the Gig Economy: Towards Enhanced Rights at Work in the Age of Uber. LSE Law Review, 5, pp.190–208.
Published on 18 Mar 2020.
Peer Reviewed

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