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Think Tank To Tackle Flexible Working in the UK

The world of work is changing, now there is a third form of employment

An independent review of flexible working from the ‘gig’ economy to ‘Uberisation’ and contracting has been launched by the Social Market Foundation (SMF).

The SMF will look closely at whether a tax system that still only recognises workers as either ‘employed’ or ‘self-employed’ is fit for purpose amid concerns employment legislation has failed to keep up with the world of work.

Benefit structures, employment rights and tax relief are some of the elements that will come within the scope of the review which is being sponsored by trade body PRISM.

SMF director Emran Mian said: “The world of work is changing. We used to talk only of employment and self-employment but self-employment covers a wide range of activities. Many people who are self-employed are better described as contractors or freelancers.

“The aim of our project will be to illustrate how widespread this third form of employment now is across different sectors of the economy and regions of the UK, identify the consequences of it being ignored to individuals, businesses and the wider economy and survey how other countries are grappling with the same issues. We will suggest practical next steps that may be taken in law and policy.”

PRISM chief executive Crawford Temple said: “The SMF is a very well-regarded think tank and whatever its findings we know now is the right time for a credible, independent organisation to look at some of the problems PRISM and others perceive in the world of employment, particularly the flexible workers market.

“PRISM has believed since its inception that the sticking plaster approach to legislation, the lack of a legislative roadmap and the complexity of employment legislation was creating unfairness. We are asking for a second opinion in the form of this SMF study.”

With the British think tank looking into the area of flexible working more closely, legislative changes are anticipated to allow the sector to expand in line with countries like the US, where there’s a better and much more supportive legal structure in place for its new, independent workforce.