As the cost of living continues to escalate, a new report shows more than half of workers in the UK temporary economy are paid below minimum wage.
The first study of its kind, led by the University of Bristol, found that 52 per cent of freelance workers in jobs ranging from data entry to food delivery earn below minimum wage. On average, respondents earn £8.97 an hour – about 15% less than the UK’s current minimum wage, which has risen to £10.42 this month.
More than three-quarters (76%) of survey respondents also experience feelings of insecurity and anxiety related to work.
Lead author, Dr Alex Wood, Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management and the Future of Work at the University of Bristol Business School, said: “These findings highlight that working in the economy is natural. due to the UK is often underpaid, anxious and stressed. As the costs of food, fuel and housing continue to rise, this group of workers is particularly vulnerable and in need of better pay and better protection.”
Equally disturbing, more than a quarter (28%) feel they are risking their health or safety when doing freelance work, and a quarter (25%) suffer from pain at work.
When asked what would improve their situation, basic rights like minimum wages, vacation and sick pay, and protection from unfair dismissal were the most wanted.
Foundation associations and councils (similar to the work councils that exist in some European countries) to represent their needs and help influence the way representation economic platforms operate acting and influencing their working conditions were also put on their wish list. More than three-quarters of respondents believe that the introduction of such agencies will bring immediate benefits.
Dr Wood said: “A major contributing factor to low pay rates is that this job involves spending a significant amount of time waiting or looking for work while logged into a platform. The work is not only poorly paid but also extremely precarious and risky.
“Freelance workers who depend on platforms for a living are in dire need of labor protections to protect them against the enormous power asymmetry that exists in this sector. This clearly warrants the extension of the existing ‘worker’ status to protect them.”
The study involved 510 UK gig economy workers surveyed last year. There are representatives from across the field, with about half being remote freelancers using platforms like Upwork and Fiverr to take on jobs from data entry to website design. The other half consists of local drivers offering food delivery and taxis through platforms including Deliveroo and Uber.
More than just a side job to earn extra money, respondents spent an average of 28 hours a week doing freelance work, which makes up 60% of their total income.
Most respondents considered their job to be best described as self-employed and thought that expanding labor rights to include self-employed people would significantly improve their working lives.
This is the first study to investigate what forms of voice gig workers want. The findings suggest strong support for a European-style co-determination mechanism, whereby workers’ representatives are consulted and approved for changes that have an impact on working conditions and employment. . Thus, the labor councils that exist in countries like Germany can provide a model for foundation boards and those in the interim economy to give workers a voice. for decisions affecting their ability to earn a living.
Brendan Burchell, Professor of Social Sciences at the University of Cambridge and co-author of the report, added: “Responsants strongly felt that creating co-determination mechanisms would allow workers to and their representation influence the decisions of platform providers, which can immediately improve their working life.
“These policies include elected worker representations that approve all major background changes that affect jobs and working conditions. Our findings highlight the potential for union growth in this area, with the majority willing to join and even organize such bodies.”