Gig Workers

Gig workers are those who are engaged on an irregular, ‘gig-by-gig’ basis – for example, couriers who are paid a fixed amount per ‘gig’ when they ferry takeaways.

There are an estimated 5 million gig workers in the UK – and most are treated as self-employed contractors.

This means they have no employment rights – including no right to paid annual holiday, statutory sick pay or protection from unfair dismissal.

In order for a person to be entitled to employment rights it is up to them to prove that they are an ‘employee’ or ‘worker’.

This can be a hugely difficult and expensive process – as the following high-profile cases have shown:

  • 2016, an employment tribunal agreed two drivers for Uber were ‘workers’ – and therefore entitled to the National Minimum Wage and holiday pay. The company continues to fight this – and has taken the case to the Court of Appeal[1]
  • 2018, in the case of a plumber, the UK Supreme Court ruled he was a ‘worker’. After 8 years of being unable to work, this meant he was finally entitled to sick pay[2]

[1] Aslam and Farrar & others v Uber B.V. [2016]

[2] Pimlico Plumbers Ltd and another (Appellants) v Smith (Respondent) [2018] UKSC 29