Labour pledges equal rights for gig economy workers

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Workers in the gig economy will be given the same rights as other employees including sick pay and parental leave under a Labour government, it is being announced.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the move would benefit millions of workers and offer them protections against unfair dismissal.

In a speech to the TUC Congress in Manchester he will criticise the Government’s Taylor Report into employment for “ignoring” trade unions.

He will say: “Even if the Government adopt every positive recommendation in Taylor, it will not be enough because the most effective way to improve the lives of working people is through trade unions and collective action.

“Just because you don’t work regular hours doesn’t mean you can afford not to work when you are sick.

“Just because you work several jobs doesn’t mean you can afford to lose one of them without warning.

“Just because you value the freedom of independence or the convenience of flexibility doesn’t mean you have to forgo basic rights.”

Mr McDonnell will say that the burden of proof should be shifted so that the law treats gig staff as workers unless the employer can prove otherwise.

He will add that the Conservatives have stripped back employment rights to a level not seen since the economic depression of the 1930s.

Unions have taken a series of cases to employment tribunals to improve the rights of gig workers such as couriers.

Josh Hardie, deputy director general of the CBI, said: “The UK’s flexible labour market is good for the economy and increasingly wanted by workers as they look to juggle other commitments, such as caring or studying.

“Once again, the Labour Party is asking the right questions, but an ideological hostility to business leads it to answers that are outdated and ineffective.

“Fairness and flexibility can and must go hand-in-hand. A better approach would be to ensure effective labour market enforcement, reform the tribunal system and promote better employee engagement in the workplace.”

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