A report from the Social Market Foundation (SMF), entitled Rules of engagement: Reviewing self-employment and employment in the UK, has suggested that companies must disclose gig workers' hourly earnings. The report is part of a broader programme of work supported by PRISM, which the SMF is undertaking, to look into the position of self-employed workers in the labour market. The SMF argue that A legal duty too disclose fees would apply in the first instance to organisations engaging more than 50 workers and this greater transparency would put social pressure on those companies to ensure workers are paid fairly.
The report also recommends:
* The government should design a 'Self-employed Benefits Package', which should provide Statutory Maternity Pay, contributory JSA and sick leave insurance to workers that save into a private pension scheme.
* The government should introduce a 'Hirer's NICs', which would start at 2 per cent per annum and increase each year until parity is achieved with Employer NICs by 2025. This would overcome the anomaly where organisations engaging self-employed workers are exempt from 13.8 per cent rate of Employer NICs.
* HMRC should make a virtue of visibility: pursuing more cases of non-compliance, and publicising how many firms and individuals have been pursued successfully and the value of the money recovered.
* In order for fair oversight the Low Pay Commission should be asked to oversee and scrutinise this process. Ahead of implementation, the Government should consult with contracting organisations, workers, trade unions and others on how best to devise the rules.
"Our proposed new rules make life fairer for the individual and the taxpayer, whilst providing greater certainty and simplicity to businesses,” said Nigel Keohane, SMF research director. ”This report envisages a future where no matter how the work is performed there is greater evenness in tax treatment and in associated rights. As far as possible, we should be moving towards one form of employment."
Crawford Temple, chief executive of PRISM, said: "The SMF report has several innovative suggestions, in particular the introduction of a Hirer's NIC. It will ensure greater balance between the traditional and modern forms of employment, as well as between employers and workers.
"This report shines a light on the ever-changing nature of today's labour market within the gig economy. It provides a roadmap for the Government to bring the tax and legal framework in line with the new employment realities, while ensuring workers' right are upheld,” he concludes.