Independent Workers Union of Great Britain

PRESS RELEASE: Government should sanction employers that unlawfully deprive workers of employment rights – BEIS select committee submission


Gig-economy is a “euphemism for low-paid insecure work”, the IWGB says in submission to BEIS select committee inquiry.

The “gig-economy” is little more than a euphemism for low-paid insecure work, using a bogus employment status, and the government should sanction employers that are found to have been unlawfully depriving their workers of their employment rights, the IWGB trade union said today in its submission to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee’s Future World of Work Inquiry.

“Due to the massive inequality in bargaining power between worker and employer, workers are often constrained to sign contracts which do not reflect the legal reality of their employment status and as such result in depriving them of the basic employment rights to which they should be entitled,” said the IWGB, which represents bicycle couriers and Deliveroo riders, and has had a number of victories helping workers of the so-called “gig-economy”.

Consequently the IWGB made the following proposals to the Select Committee:

1) That an appropriate government department or agency should be mandated to pursue litigation against employers which are bogusly misclassifying the employment status of the people who work for them.

2) As workers is a growing category in employment law, they should enjoy as many of the employment rights as employees as makes sense given how they work (statutory sick pay entitlement as well as parental leave pay and the right to claim unfair dismissal among others.)

3) In order to improve access to justice and equalise the balance of power between employers and workers, employment tribunal fees should be removed. If government wants to increase the use of out of court settlements it should implement a stiff fine on employers who are found to have been unlawfully depriving their workers of their employment rights.

The submission was also critical of the government’s current enforcement of minimum wage legislation, saying: “The IWGB, despite representing lots of low paid workers who have been deprived of the minimum wage, has not come across one single case of government enforcement of the minimum wage.”

The IWGB concludes that: “employers in the so-called “gig economy” are currently hiding behind a façade of exciting technological innovation in order to increase their profits by depriving their workers of the employment rights to which they are legally entitled. Too many of these companies are getting away with behaving unlawfully”

The IWGB has achieved a series of victories for workers in the so-called “gig-economy”, having secured employment rights, including holiday pay and minimum wage for a bicycle courier employed by CitySprint, in a landmark ruling. It is now backing other cases against courier firms including Addison Lee, eCourier and Excel.

It is also organising Deliveroo riders in London and Brighton, most recently giving Deliveroo a deadline of 21 February to improve the terms of employment of its Brighton riders or face mass action.

For further information please contact:

Jason Moyer-Lee, IWGB General Secretary

02034907530 / 02035383720

About us

The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is the voice for some of the most vulnerable workers in the United Kingdom. We are a fully independent, worker led union. Our mission is to gain rights and welfare for under-represented workers in the UK, challenge the growing so-called ‘gig’ economy and fight against low pay.

We have waged a number of high profile campaigns such as for the London Living Wage at universities and courier companies and the 3 Cosas Campaign (sick pay, holidays, and pensions) at the University of London.