Employees, workers and the ‘sharing economy’ Changing practices and changing concepts in The United Kingdom
AbstractRecent years have seen a radical shift in the practice and profile of the labour economy in the United Kingdom consisting in the considerable growth of the so-called ‘Sharing Economy’ or ‘Gig Economy’, better identified as the ‘On-demand Economy’. From that starting point, it is argued that a corresponding change seems to have occurred in the set of concepts which the labour/ employment law of the United Kingdom uses to analyse and to characterize the work relations and work contracts which are created, made, and operated within this rapidly growing sector of the labour market. Two recent high-profile Employment Tribunal decisions in the Uber and Citysprint cases, and a decision of the Court of Appeal in this same area in the Pimlico Plumbers case have served to confirm the legislative creation of a third intermediate category of ‘workers’ who benefit from a set of employment rights which is more limited than that enjoyed by employees but which is nevertheless very important. This crystallization of labour law’s newly tripartite taxonomy of work relations has occurred very largely in the context of the on-demand economy, and is beneficial to those located in that sector. This is, however, a rather fragile conceptual structure.
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