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Lockdown’s Affect on the Gig Economy

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Below we discuss how the pandemic has impacted the gig economy. 

At this time those in less secure jobs must have been disproportionally impacted and in a variety of ways. It was appropriate that CIPD included a session on this topic on the second afternoon of the Festival of Work. The format of the session was an interactive panel discussion chaired by the CIPD’s Head of Public Policy, Ben Willmott.

John Nurthen kicked off by describing the types of workers included in the broader term of contingent workers: temps, seasonal workers, independent contractors and cash in hand workers were included and this is thought to be at least 20% of the current working population.

Dr Rochelle Haynes followed John whose research showed that of this category 70% were no longer working at present. She was concerned about the potential for employers still to use these people after recovery when the labour market might tighten again. Rochelle was followed by Laura Garland who agreed that those on zero hours’ contracts and temps had been particularly badly hit

Matthew Taylor from the RSA felt the gig economy would be impacted by the high number of employers needed for greater flexibility. He was hoping the government would find a simpler way than IR35 to make self-employed people make a fairer tax contribution. Matthew thoughts the numbers of people to be very significant across all sectors of the economy and that many had not been able to stay home and stay safe as their need to earn money was greater. The impact on BAME, females and the disabled had been greater

All agreed that more protection was especially around maternity and sick pay. Compensation for workers whose shifts were cancelled at short notice was also recommended. It was however noted that some of these jobs were either second jobs done at the weekend and sometimes relating to a hobby and similarly work undertaken by those who had retired or didn’t want/need to work fulltime.

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