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Government polls gig workers on their experiences

12 February 2018

Government polls gig workers on their experiencesA new Government report has found that most gig workers are satisfied with the way that they work but it says more must be done to protect the most vulnerable.

The study by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) reveals that the majority of workers in the gig economy do not use it as their main source of income and are satisfied with the flexible earning power it gives them. Of the 2.8 million people the report estimated worked in the gig economy last year, it found that just 8% saw it as their main income.

It also found that the majority of people (53%) working in the gig economy were either "very or fairly satisfied" with their experience. This rose to 74% among those for whom the income from the gig economy was important.

Andy Chamberlain, deputy director of policy at the freelance body IPSE, said: "We welcome this report, both for its detail and its confirmation of what we have been saying for some time: for the vast majority of people working in the gig economy, it is not their main source of income. It is a source of additional, flexible income and most are very happy to have it."

The BEIS report also showed, however, that 25% of gig economy workers are "very or fairly dissatisfied" with their work-related benefits and income. IPSE said that its own research also shows that a "not-insignificant" proportion of workers in the gig economy are at risk of being vulnerable and they must not be ignored.

"As we recommended in our own report, there are several key ways the Government can help and support this vulnerable cohort," said Chamberlain. "Universal Credit must account for fluctuating incomes so it can work for the self-employed. Improved access to training is also absolutely essential to help vulnerable self-employed people.

"Perhaps most importantly, the Government can clear the confusion over employment status and ensure vulnerable workers get the rights they need by introducing a statutory definition of self-employment. IPSE will be working with the Government and pressing for this in the upcoming post-Taylor Review consultations on employment status."

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