Gransnet forums

Ask a gran

Gig Economy

(33 Posts)
Riverwalk Tue 02-May-17 14:51:44

Use or not use ... that's the question.

I dislike the idea that companies can off-load their responsibilities regarding Tax & NI and pretend that their workforce is 'self-employed'.

On the other hand, what about the people who are signed-up and waiting for 'gigs'?

In the past couple of months, for various reasons, I've used Deliveroo & Convibo; always tip the deliverer (never tip Ocado drivers as they're proper employees).

A bit of a moral conundrum hmm

Ilovecheese Tue 02-May-17 17:30:30

I like your idea of tipping the drivers.
Another quandary is: Do we buy green beans from Kenya to help the Kenyan farmers? Or do we worry about the air miles and the environment?

Ilovecheese Tue 02-May-17 17:32:03

Same with cheap clothes. If we can afford to pay more, should we buy clothes made by children in sweatshops? Or if we don't buy them, will people lose their jobs?

Riverwalk Tue 02-May-17 18:54:30

Yes, it's very difficult cheese.

I don't shop at Primark because their prices are so low that one wonders what they pay the producers, but I do buy Kenyan green beans! The latter because there is a price premium so one can hope some of it reaches the producers and their workers.

Back to our Gig Economy as it's nearer home ....

M0nica Tue 02-May-17 19:31:00

I think the living wage rate for self-employed people, where the employer is not paying NI, holiday pay, pension contributions etc should be higher than for those on the minimum wage but getting employee benefits. It would remove the incentive for companies to use self-employed people in this way. The living wage could be increased by the value of the benefits that the employer is not paying.

That would help people in the UK. I am only too aware of the sweat shop overseas problem but, like others, feel torn both ways.

Norah Tue 02-May-17 19:32:01

Differences to gig employed, self employed, zero contract employed are not clear to me.

Which is it when I pay to have the garden mowed, the house cleaned, hair done in home, or fetch delivery setup accomplished not by a shop but an unemployed person?

I tip and pay very well, that is not my difficulty to this issue.

M0nica Tue 02-May-17 21:02:26

I think gig-employed = self employed but applied mainly to those at the bottom of the wage scale doing delivery work or similar, like food delivery services, couriers etc. They are usually paid a set amount per delivery/trip/work task.

Zero-hours are employed by a company, often retailers like supermarkets or courier companies but the employees contractual working hours per week are set at zero and they can be asked to work as many or as few hours as their employers require - and only get paid for the hours they work.

With both the above weekly wages and working hours can vary widely from week to week.

Generally, self employed means you work for yourself and choose how much or little you work, what you do and your charges, bearing in mind the industry you are in and what is considered the going rate for the job. The Inland Revenue rule used to be that you were not entirely dependent on one employer for all your work (must have changed, see gig economy above.)

Dh is a retired Chartered Engineer and is self employed. He only works for one employer, a friend, and only takes on the work he wants to do, he is entirely free to turn work down - and does.

This is a first run at a definition and I am sure others can improve on it

Norah Tue 02-May-17 21:36:00

DH explained self employed, other poster (another thread) said he was wrong.

I hire people to help out. I believe they are self employed as was DH, but I no longer know for sure and I prefer to do the correct thing if possible. I think the garden man is self employed, the house cleaner as well. Hair in home, I don't know. I pay very well and tip generously.

M0nica Tue 02-May-17 21:52:20

Norah, I am pretty sure you are right, gardeners and cleaners usually work for more than one person and generally can chose who they work for and for how many hours. The same applies to the hairdresser.

M0nica Tue 02-May-17 21:59:21

The sad thing is that zero hours working is a retrograde step. After WW2 until the mid 1960s my FiL worked on the assembly line at Vauxhall in Luton. At that time car building was a seasonal job and workers were laid off in the summer months and not paid, even though, they were employees.

There was a lot of labour unrest and strikes with one of the key demands being year long employment and a guaranteed week, ie an agreed minimum hours pay every week. A battle the workers won.

It is worrying to see the working practices we thought we saw the last of in the 1950s coming back in the 21st century, albeit in a different industry.

Rigby46 Tue 02-May-17 23:06:30

I didn't know that about car building being seasonal. Yes it is worrying and sad that the same issues are so widespread now but those that benefit from this brave new world have nothing to fear at all from the next government have they? Why on earth would any Conservative government want to have better paid working people with proper working conditions when they can have what they've got - higher profits? And the average consumer is perfectly happy with the associated lower prices. No brainier really, is it?

daphnedill Wed 03-May-17 00:34:28

There was a Radio 4 programme last week about the differences and the challenges called the "Self-Employment Paradox:

suzied Wed 03-May-17 05:09:41

Didn't Uber drivers win a recent case on this?

suzied Wed 03-May-17 05:11:20

I love Uber btw, brilliant, but I know there has been a recent case about the drivers being treated as self employed.

M0nica Wed 03-May-17 06:42:47

Yes, I heard it daphne, that is where I learnt what the 'gig economy' meant.

Biggirlsdontcry Wed 03-May-17 10:14:26

Have you researched their ethics policy.

Ramblingrose22 Wed 03-May-17 10:22:04

I will be devil's advocate here.

I am concerned that the gig economy is a good way for companies (however small or large) to avoid paying the employer's National Insurance contribution, deprive workers of certain rights and increase their profits. I also suspect that their "contractors" (can't call them "employees")like it as they can avoid the same deductions from their pay.

We all know that the NHS needs more cash and that public services have been cut to the bone, and it is not helpful when the Exchequer is being deprived of money that it should receive.

A balance needs to be struck to allow flexible working practices whilst ensuring that proper NI and taxes are paid. One way might be for the Government to give self employed contractors the same rights as employees to sick pay, holiday pay, mat/paternity leave, etc.

As for the minimum wage requirement, it's all very noble but there aren't enough people around to enforce it and the employees won't complain because they don't want to lose their jobs.

starbird Wed 03-May-17 10:28:09

Do you pay tradesman in cash and not get a proper invoice? That is a difficult one - they may or may not declare the earnings for tax. Chances are if they say no to cheques they are not declaring it.

Jaycee5 Wed 03-May-17 10:30:39

I think that it is good that people are thinking about it. I boycott a lot of shops and companies but it is impossible not to slip sometimes. The list of workfare users and that of tax dodgers are both very long, then with child labour (which it is often difficult to find out about) and the way that minerals used in phones are mined in the Congo etc. it is a big subject.
People should do the best they can and try to shop ethically but not get so worried that they give up. Personally I think that shopping ethically could achieve more than voting (although I believe that everyone should vote).

Lewlew Wed 03-May-17 10:56:00

You cannot tip Ocado drivers, they will flat out refuse as it's against company policy. Found that out the first time I used home delivery when I was laid up.

Lilyflower Wed 03-May-17 10:58:04

One must remember that what is at the bottom of driving prices down is the globalisation effect of other countries paying very low wages. Chinese workers are paid at a much lower rate than home workers which is why their products are commensurately cheaper. They have few rights as we know them and no health or welfare provison. China has kept its products cheap by artificially keeping its currency low for decades.

You might want to factor in the huge benefits to even the poorest worker in this country of free health, school, legal, pension and welfare benefits. I costed what my aged mother was receiving in health benefits alone as a poorer pensioner and it came to £10,000 for the year when she had her cataracts operated on. She has dementia tablets which cost over £60 a sheet.

Cheap green beans stimulate foreign economies far more effectively than charity ever can.

Sadly for the nay-sayers it is still true that the market is the greatest stimulator of prosperity and that the rising tide actually does float all boats. It might be that there are some eye catching inequalities between the richest and poorest in various societies but all the actual statistical and factual indicators point to everyone growing better off and health improving everywhere except failed states.

Trade, commerce and financial interactions all create wealth so there is no need to feel guilty about living.

Riverwalk Wed 03-May-17 11:35:02

Regarding companies like Deliveroo:

There are many restaurants that wouldn't normally have a delivery or takeaway service so you can see the attraction of being able to have additional customers without having to physically accommodate them, or have in-house delivery staff.

I love to eat out but sometimes it's not possible to actually go to a favourite local restaurant but I would like to eat their food, so by using such a service I'm providing a rider a 'gig' and supporting local businesses. Recently DGD & DIL turned up a day early (with only a couple of hours notice!) so when they arrived I got on to Deliveroo and ordered from a quite smart Thai restaurant, so they had very good food and I didn't have to cook in a hurry.

These new services are out there, they're not going to go away as they provide what people want, but it's all a bit of a moral maze.

Heckter Wed 03-May-17 12:07:08

Thank you Lilyflower for putting the other positive aspect of not always buying local. In the major supermarkets, any food that is Fair Trade, means that the local workers are paid a minimum wage for that part of the world, with add-ons such as free schooling and free medical. Of course, it is entirely up to the supermarkets to police the system......

Furthermore, my brother-in-law flies for one of the world's largest airlines, and if my sister wishes to travel "staff" which means paying only the admin costs, the captain of the airplane decides how many "staff" travellers may be included on the flight, dependent on weight, as all flights take fresh cargo, including Kenya beans.

Lewlew Wed 03-May-17 12:39:53

Heckter Wed 03-May-17 12:07:08 I hope they don't drag a paying passenger off the plane for the staffers, though! wink grin

Cagsy Wed 03-May-17 13:16:27

It is a minefield to be sure, I won't shop with Amazon or buy Nestle products and try to but Fair Trade when possible. I also mainly buy organic (for the environment not because it's better for you) and try to buy free range/outdoor bred meat on animal welfare basis. I think you might be right on this Jaycee5. I'm told many of the fabrics Primark use are not recyclable so contribute to landfill.
Like many of you I feel sad, if not angry, that we seem to be going backwards in terms of workers rights - lack of paid holidays, sick pay etc never mind the evil of zero hours.
Oh and Ocado drivers definitely do accept tips Lewlew, I tend to only give them now when I have a particularly large order, Christmas etc.