New guide to the gig economy warns businesses of compliance risks


Compliance Risks and the Gig Economy takes businesses through the potential legal minefield of using gig economy apps for business purposes. From renting a room through Airbnb, buying a service on UpWork or hailing a ride on Uber, when a business interacts with the gig economy, it can have a knock-on effect across compliance areas from employment law to equality to modern slavery. Most recently, already-under-fire Uber has recently been exposed for concealing a massive global breach of the personal information of 57 million customers and drivers in October 2016.

Prime Minister vows to crack down on those taking advantage of workers
Theresa May recently promised to overhaul the rights of millions of workers in the UK. The crackdown, regarded by one business group as “the biggest shake-up of employment law in generations”, includes the PM’s pledge to clamp down on firms using unpaid interns, quadruple fines for non-compliant organisations and launch a “naming and shaming” list of the worst perpetrators.

Millions of brits working independently
With around 14 million Brits taking part in some form of independent work, whether traditional freelance or through a new gig economy app, the potential compliance risks range from equality and discrimination to tax evasion, modern slavery, and even data protection.

This comes as regulators take an ever closer look at gig economy practices. Last October, Uber lost its employment tribunal case, meaning tens of thousands of drivers may have been wrongly classified as self employed. It not only means Uber may have to pay them the minimum wage and sick days, but if the ruling is upheld, millions of Uber journeys become subject to VAT, which neither the riders nor drivers currently pay.

One example in the e-book shows how easy it could be for even the smallest company to get in trouble with the gig economy. A garden centre needs some extra hands for a few days to take in a delivery of Christmas trees. It uses a gig economy app to find half a dozen casual workers, and gives them store-branded gloves and protective clothing. The transactions take place through the app. The garden centre pays online, and the workers turn up at the right time. However, a spot check reveals three workers don’t have the right to work in the UK, and it’s a criminal offence not to check a worker’s’ immigration status.

As more and more gig economy suppliers face employment tribunals, high court judgements and the expected government regulation following this year’s’ parliamentary enquiry into alternative business models, ensuring compliance while using the gig economy has never been more crucial.