Gig economy firms like Uber and Deliveroo will be “let off the hook” if Theresa May backs measures in a leaked review of employment practices, unions said.
The Matthew Taylor report, led by Tony Blair’s former policy chief and due to be unveiled this week, will make a series of recommendations to Downing Street on rights in the modern workplace.
But a leaked draft suggests Taylor will stop short of recommending all gig economy workers should be entitled to the minimum wage.
His review is expected to say companies should be forced to prove a worker can earn at least 1.2 times the £7.50-an-hour national living wage.
It also recommends Downing Street introduce a new category of people called ‘dependent contractors’. This group would be eligible for workers’ rights and have the option of earning the national minimum wage.
Sick leave and paid holidays would also be extended to ‘dependent contractors’ and they would be treated as full-time employees, but without the same rights.
General Secretary Tim Roache said adopting the recommendations would open up “more loopholes” for employers to under-pay and exploit workers.
He said: “If the Taylor review does indeed call for a radical overhaul of employment law, the recommendations that are leaking out seem to miss the point.
“What we’ve seen so far is tinkering around the edges and creating more loopholes employers will inevitably exploit.
“Current employment laws and our tax and national insurance structures are sufficient - the issue has been one of enforcement, or lack of it.
“Unscrupulous employers are ignoring the rights which workers already have and are not paying their fair share of taxes.
“Any report worth its salt on the modern world of work absolutely has to tackle the use of agency and precarious work as a business model - thousands of people work in perpetual insecurity while vastly profitable companies can make even more in profit while refusing to pay the taxes they owe all of us.
“That’s simply not right.
“Anything short of a wholesale crackdown of exploitation of working people, and avoiding tax, in the name of creating a modern world of work is unacceptable and will be seen by working people as a smoke screen for the status quo while bosses carry on as normal.”
Previously, Uber had claimed those who work for the firm were ‘self-employed’ but a court ruled they were in fact ‘workers’ and, as such, entitled to employed rights.
The GMB union, which brought the case, described the employment tribunal decision as a “monumental victory”.
Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, said green-lighting the recommendations would be “caving in to special pleading”.
She said: “If these proposals are true, gig economy employers are being let off the hook.
“Creating a new ‘dependent worker’ category would be caving in to special pleading from platform companies who pretend that they cannot pay the minimum wage like any other employer.
“We already know from union wins in the courts that Deliveroo and Uber should be paying their workforce the minimum wage now. And guaranteeing them basic rights like paid holiday and breaks.
“Reviving piece rates would be a backward step. What happens if an Uber or Deliveroo driver gets stuck in traffic? Will they get paid less for not completing their set quota of jobs? And what does it mean for their health and safety if they’re under pressure to meet job quotas at speed?”