Category Archives: Gig Economy

Let’s give gig workers fairer access to financial services

By Ali Hamriti, Co-Founder and CEO at Rollee

Since the pandemic, the way people work and earn money has shifted causing the number of people who identify as ‘independent workers’ to increase by other a third. In fact, 19.2 million Europeans now identify as independent workers, 4.4 million of which are based in the UK, according to research by the University of Hertfordshire. One can be a driver in the morning, a teacher in the afternoon and working on a side project in the evening. As a result, people’s sources of income are increasingly diversifying. 48% of UK gig workers do a side hustle to top up their income from other sources and 52% rely on gig work as their primary source of income.

Diverse incomes have many benefits, such as the flexibility to focus on certain work in case one revenue stream stagnates and the greater financial security that brings. However, with the expectation of greater financial freedom and security, it is disheartening for many independent workers to find themselves up against unequal access to financial services. Over a quarter (28%) of the UK’s self-employed struggle to access the financial services they require, according to new consumer research from Tink. In addition, a third of the self-employed (33%) believe their employment status has been an obstacle to getting a mortgage, and 31% believe it has affected their ability to obtain credit.

Why is it unfair?
Independent workers simply have more to prove and the current system of verifying an individual’s working data does not make it easy.
Financial institutions currently operate manually to verify a worker’s income and employment data. In the case of verifying someone with one regular source of income, this process quickly recognises this record as a stable income. With gig workers earnings coming from different sources from one month to the next, financial institutions are tasked with tracking down different data records which are separated and dispersed from one platform or record to another. This makes it painfully time-consuming for financial institutions to verify an individual’s employment and income data making it difficult to make decisions such as granting mortgages. This slow and risky process means that independent workers face a long journey of delays, and sometimes barriers, when proving their solvency to financial institutions.  Often, financial institutions do not have the time which results in workers being denied access to financial services and business being lost in the process.

What can be done?
To reflect the truth of a gig workers earnings and give them a fairer chance of accessing financial services, the way financial institutions access and analyse data needs to evolve. They need a way of doing deep and complete analysis of a worker’s activity and earnings. This requires adopting a fully digitised process to gain full visibility and transparency of multiple dispersed data sets in real-time. Automation plays a key role in consolidating and standardising the data to avoid going through painful manual processes. It can help save significant time and money spent on analysing the data to inform financial service decisions. By speeding up the process, business conversions such as selling mortgages can be made quicker with the ability to verify the data much faster than before.

In addition, by using one central, monitored system to analyse data in, the financial institution can gain greater transparency to guarantee the reliability of the data and protect against fraudulent documents.

The adoption of digital processes can also to help empower individual workers to remain the owner of their own data, giving permission to share on-demand access to the data without sharing the data itself. Gig platforms can also do more to facilitate inclusivity of financial services by making their workers’ data sharing easier and on a consent basis.

One other thing that needs to change is the way that credit scores are calculated. Today’s calculations are outdated and don’t consider the new work habits and the multiple incomes that independent workers can accumulate.  The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) must play a role here to help revise the rules that financial institutions have to follow to make credit score calculations a fairer assessment to independent workers.

As the number of independent workers continues to grow, changing the systems and processes will be critical to make it possible to do business with a large market of customers who represent the market of today and the future.




Nick Nooren: Welcome to the age of the gig worker

By Nick Nooren, Head of Proteus Marketplace

Self-employment isn’t a new phenomenon. The ability to be your own boss has always been attractive and the self-employed have played an important role in the economy for years. But what is new is the way this role is fundamentally changing. The employment models of freelancers and contractors that seek to reduce employment risks are fading away. They’re being replaced by the gig worker, who will prioritise their time and skills however they may chose.

As our priorities shift and digital capabilities expand, the working world is moving to a new iteration of non-permanent labour. The traditional model of freelancers has always been one of confinement: viewing freelancers as suitable only for certain industries and treating their skills as lesser than their permanent counterparts. But now we’re seeing a new era of flexible work, supported by technology, which repositions freelancers as gig workers. This new era involves the use of digital platforms to connect gig workers with projects, combined with a conceptual shift that values their work and the benefits they bring. The new gig worker relationship centres on choice and even sectors that have historically been wedded to the in-house model, such as the diversified energy industry, have begun to usher this new era in.

When we stop seeing self-employed workers as a second-rate option, we start realising their ability to navigate financial challenges and help companies grow. Gig workers allow you to streamline your business as you only pay for the exact labour you need and can precisely match operational costs. They empower you to say ‘yes’ to last-minute requests, knowing that you can quickly get an extra pair of hands to help out.

Shaking up the way you engage with talent also opens up a wealth of opportunities. The pandemic has proved that remote working doesn’t equal a decrease in efficiency and tools like video conferencing software are commonplace and cost-effective. This means that companies who go down the gig worker route now have access to the global community of talent so they can pick world experts for their projects and aren’t confined by locality. Companies can have a diversity of skills and experiences at their fingertips.

The benefits aren’t just for corporates. The gig worker revolution plays into the push for more flexible work patterns that makes jobs more accessible and protects workers’ mental health and wellbeing. Gig workers are able to pick and choose the projects that interest them and that align with their goals and beliefs. This new way of working is all about giving both companies and gig workers freedom of choice.

Of course, the gig worker revolution is founded on a fundamental shift in the way companies engage with talent and manage their work. Finding, appointing and on-boarding gig workers takes less time than a months-long search for a permanent employee, but it’s still a messy and inefficient process. And then there’s the project coordination to consider. If businesses are to increasingly rely on gig workers, we need to find solutions that maximise efficiency, ensure quality of work and simplify the relationship. Businesses need an easy way to liberate talent.

Technology can help provide some of these solutions. There are already a number of online jobs boards for gig workers but what’s needed are more sophisticated ways to boost connectivity and engagement. There’s a demand for transformational digital platforms that offer businesses access to rated gig workers with skills that perfectly match project needs, saving time trawling through online searches or relying on haphazard word of mouth. There’s also a need for digital tools that can automate crucial paperwork including contracts, expense forms and invoices, so businesses aren’t continuously buried under a mountain of forms. These solutions help attract and retain the best talent too – even if the work is interesting, frustrating processes and slow invoicing will put off gig workers who have the freedom to take their time and skills elsewhere.

The age of the gig worker is upon us and denial won’t make it disappear. If businesses don’t adapt to this new way of working, they won’t survive. The increased efficiency and global expertise offered by gig workers will separate the corporate wheat from the chaff and leave the slow behind. It’s a simple case of evolve or die.



Growing gig economy: Aon report highlights gig worker needs and HRD expectations

A new report from Aon plc (NYSE: AON), a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions, shows that gig workers are looking for a balance between stability and flexibility – but have yet to find it. The report, Gig Economy: Financial Security or Greater Control’, examined the issues by asking views of gig workers and HR directors from across Europe, in order to help organisations better understand potential impacts of this growing workforce.

The research found that 26% of European HR directors believe that in five years’ time their workforces will comprise 51-75% gig workers, while 18% of UK HRDs believe 75% or more of their workforce will be made up of contractors over the same period.

The report was developed from 500 interviews with three groups of people: 200 HR directors, 150 B2B/white collar gig workers and 150 B2C/blue collar gig workers.  They were interviewed from across France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and the UK. Alongside the more traditional B2B gig workers, there has also been the emergence of B2C gig workers, who connect customers to products and services. Their employers include Amazon, Deliveroo and Airbnb.

The report found that:

  • 66% of gig workers say it is important to plan financially for the future as well as enjoying the present.
  • 64% say security and stability are important to them.
  • 54% are worried about their future and finances.

The research also found:

  • If they were offered an attractive health and benefits package 67% of gig workers would be more likely to recommend a company to friends as a good place to work.
  • Benefits also have the potential to make gig workers more effective at work – 67% would feel more engaged and positive towards the company they are working for if they were offered benefits, while 66% said they would feel more valued.
  • When asked about what was important when choosing a role as a contractor at one company over another, 73% of women and 66% of men stated they wanted a comprehensive package of benefits, including for example, income protection insurance, maternity/paternity pay and life insurance.
  • Convenience and location also rated higher for women at 73% compared to 59% for men. Women also rated flexible working hours more important to them than their male counterparts (74% vs 59%).
  • In the UK, gig workers are most keen on portable products – 40% would like a benefits package that easily transfers between different companies.

Andrew Cunningham, chief commercial officer, EMEA Health Solutions, Aon, said:

“If businesses want to continue to draw upon the responsive talents and skills of gig workers, they need a better understanding of the economic outlook that this group of workers will face in a post-COVID-19 world. The reality is, that the pandemic has already had a considerable impact on them. While some are operating our delivery services, food, transport and sanitation industries – and have proved to be vital to running our economies – the same can’t be said for white collar gig workers where the pandemic, in some cases, has been devastating for their work.

“Businesses should be concerned about their responsibility and duty of care towards their gig workforce. If we are to get the best out of people, gig workers and traditional employees need to be treated equally, regardless of their contracts. Both groups are likely to have similar concerns, financial pressures and commitments.”

Across Europe, 37% of B2B gig workers said the company for which they work the most currently provides benefit options, although just 24% of B2C workers said the same.

The top five benefits gig workers are currently offered are:

  • B2B – 24% training and development, 27% pension benefits, 27% sick pay, 24% paid holiday allowance, 23% employee discount.
  • B2C – 29% maternity/paternity pay, 25% training and development, 24% critical illness cover, 24% disability insurance, 24% private health/medical.

However, the benefits they would value most are:

  • B2B – 23% training and personal development opportunities, 23% sick pay, 19% income protection, 19% life insurance and 18% professional indemnity insurance.
  • B2C – 21% accidental death and disablement insurance, 19% income protection insurance, 19% training and personal development opportunities, 19% professional indemnity insurance, 19% public liability insurance.
  • 15% of both B2B and B2C gig workers would value paid holiday allowance and 14% would value pension benefits.

Matt Lawrence, chief broking officer, EMEA Health Solutions, Aon, said:

“The factors driving the exponential growth of the gig economy will force businesses to address frameworks and structures that have previously created a two-tier system within the workforce.

“More than two-thirds of gig workers said they would feel more engaged and positive towards the company they worked for if it offered an attractive health and benefits package. While legal and regulatory factors might play a part in an organisation’s thinking around benefit provision for gig workers, organisations can’t afford to have a blind spot when it comes to attracting talent as we look to the future.

“If businesses are going continue to be resilient and thrive in the future, they should be actively listening to all sections of their workforce. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Organisations may not even need to provide the solution, but instead, commit to signposting gig workers to help and support that enriches their wellbeing. If organisations can plug in benefits that further supplement that, then their offering can become even stronger.”

Access the full Gig Economy report here.

Employment status case will ‘open the floodgates’ warns Welsh HR Specialist, The HR Dept

Caryl Thomas of The HR Dept Cardiff, Newport and Monmouth, discusses her concerns over a current employment status case

A recent employment tribunal case over false self-employment could open the floodgates to a deluge of claims for notice, holiday and redundancy pay, across multiple industry sectors.

That’s the view of The HR Dept, experts in human resources for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in the UK and Ireland.

Earlier this week, a 26-year-old self-employed hairdresser in Lancashire, Meghan Gorman, won a tribunal case in which the judge rule she deserved the rights of an employee, despite being officially self-employed.

Ms Gorman’s lawyers successfully argued that the amount of control her employer – a Terence Paul salon in the centre of Manchester – had over her working practices meant she was, effectively, an employee.

She has now won the right to claim for six years of backdated holiday pay, notice and redundancy pay after losing her job when the salon closed in 2019.

“The flood gates will now open,” said Caryl Thomas, director at The HR Dept in Cardiff, Newport and Monmouth. Across the UK and Ireland, the company provides outsourced HR advice and practical to support to more than 6,500 SMEs through a network of 65 licensees.

“It has become standard practice for many salon owners to use self-employed in this way and the implications of this case are likely to be huge and costly for many business owners in this sector.

“But it’s not the only sector affected. Many self-employed sports coaches, tutors, golf pros, physios, dental hygienists, designers, architects – the list goes on – are often engaged on a self-employed basis for their personal skill and wouldn’t have a right to substitute.

“Part of the problem is that smaller businesses are often encouraged to use such ‘false self-employment’ arrangements by professional advisors, bank managers and accountants who usually lack the ability to offer qualified HR or employment law advice.

“One of the problems is owing to the complexity and different rules relating to tax law and employment law about employment status. In tax law, it is binary – somebody is either ‘employed’ or ‘self-employed’ – whilst in employment law, there is an additional category of ‘worker’ status.

“This is not the same as an employee. Many sole trader self-employed individuals, if put to a test about their true status, would likely be a worker if not an employee.

“That is not to say that all self-employed are not truly self-employed people running their own business, but for many the practices are a sham.”

Caryl Thomas explained that employers should look at three main tests to see whether their staff are truly self-employed:

  • there should be no ‘mutuality of obligation’ – as in an ongoing expectation that work is offered or has to be undertaken;
  • the staff member should not be working under the control of the employer – being self-employed is running your own business and providing a service;
  • they should have an unfettered right to send a substitute, with no right of refusal by the employer as a self-employed person is providing a business service, not a personal one.

Thomas emphasised repeated calls from The HR Dept for the Government to abolish worker status and also reduce the burden on a self-employed person of providing a substitute, especially where they are actually being engaged for their personal skill.

She said the wider issue of employment status will be put further in the spotlight with the Uber appeal case being heard remotely in the Supreme Court this week. The private transport firm will claim drivers who had previously been found to be ‘workers’ are actually self-employed on the terms they have been engaged on.

“If Uber loses, the company will have no further recourse and then the flood gates for worker status claims will well and truly open – especially with so much uncertainty in the economy and with no costs associated with bringing a claim at employment tribunal.

“The Government urgently needs to carry out the commitment it made in its Good Work Plan, to review and align employment status rules for tax and employment.  We need a common, simple platform, so that all business owners and personnel understand employment status. For those medium and large businesses, who will also have IR35 changes to contend with from April 2021, the need for employment status to be reviewed makes is even more imperative.”

For more information about The HR Dept Cardiff, Newport and Monmouth, visit:

Erasmus slams Uber’s ‘independent worker’ category as an attempt to abdicate employer responsibilities

Uber are trying to establish themselves under a new category to exonerate themselves of any responsibility for their employees, according to new research by Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM).

The study, conducted by Professor Magdalena Cholakova and Professor Joep Cornelissen, shows that the category, ‘independent workers’, would mean that Uber does not have responsibility to provide social security, protection and reasonable pay to their employees.

Uber’s justification for this category is due to the immeasurability of work hours, they argue that workers can have multiple apps running simultaneously making it hard to attribute hours to a single employer.

However, the research shows that Uber actively controls its drivers, even during ‘idle’ time, as they are expected to accept a ride within 15 seconds without knowing exact location or fee, or face a risk of being fired.

Dr Magdalena Cholakova says

“We consider the reasoning in support of a new category of ‘independent worker’ logically flawed and dishonest and expect a negative effect on society. The new proposed category undermines the post-war established ideal of an employment relationship with support and protections being provided to workers.

“In fact, we believe that if this new category becomes institutionalised in jurisdictions around the world, it will not only directly harm individual workers, but instigate across the labour market a new precariat class of workers who have no job security, poor pay, and whose material and psychological welfare is seriously compromised.”

The researchers propose that more attention and scrutiny should be paid to gig companies as many are also using the ‘independent worker’ label to reap the same kind of crass economic benefit.

According to Professor Joep Cornelissen,

“These broader developments in the economy should be more than enough encouragement for everyone, including policy makers, legislators and researchers, to become involved in defining the appropriate organisational and employment categories for Uber and other sharing economy companies. We feel that is needed to ensure that profits do not go to Uber over and beyond everything else”.

The study Profits Uber everything? The gig economy and the morality of category work was published in Strategic Organization.