I found the linked article interesting. But before commenting, I’ll start with a brief statement of the law as it currently stands: workers and employees are entitled to the minimum wage. There is no simple definition of ‘worker’, however, if someone works under your control or their work depends on the platform you provide, they are probably a worker and entitled to the minimum wage.
This article from the Financial Times, ‘Minimum wage should be extended to cover self-employed’, relates to this report by the Resolution Foundation, a think tank. It anticipates Matthew Taylor’s review into the matter, which was commissioned by the Government and is expected in within the next two weeks. The FT’s title makes the suggestion sound quite radical, but as acknowledged by the Resolution Foundation, it would represent only a minor change to current law.
Employees and workers are entitled to the minimum wage at the appropriate (age-related) rate. It is not always easy to determine whether someone is a worker. Rather, it depends upon a holistic approach to the actual working relationship (rather than the words in their contract) taking into account several factors. Most importantly, a requirement for personal service, control over the way the person works and integration into the workforce are likely to imply they are workers or employees.
There will still, however, be scenarios that are difficult to classify. One such situation resulted in the case of Pimlico Plumbers v Smith, which was decided by the Court of Appeal back in February. I summarised that judgment here. In my opinion, the Court of Appeal set a useful practical test. The question will often be, can all the individuals really be stated to be in business by themselves? Or rather, do they rely on the platform provided by the company?
The Resolution Foundation (on page 9) highlights traditional minicab companies and courier firms as sectors where their recommendations could have consequences. However, from recent employment tribunal experience, such individuals are already most likely to be defined as workers – in others words, tribunals and court’s view of the matter is already very similar to the Resolution Foundation’s view. The FT says that trade unions already think that the problem can be tackled by better enforcement of existing laws.
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