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The logistics industry has welcomed the proposals in the Taylor review into self-employed workers as a sensible, half-way house that would provide those in the 'gig economy' more security while still affording businesses the flexibility they require.

The Taylor review calls for a shake-up of the inequality between employed and self-employed workers. It suggests the categorisation of worker be replaced with “dependent contractors” - those who rely long term on zero-hour contracts or agency work.

FTA’s Head of Skills Campaigning Sally Gilson said: “The proposed ‘dependent contractor’ status would give those working in the gig economy greater rights, without taking away the flexibility that is so important for businesses.”

The report calls for more opportunities for growth and development for so-called dependent contractors. The government will now review the report and decide what action, if any, to take.

Market analyst Frank Proud from Apex Insight said logistics businesses in the UK could pay staff more and still succeed. “The obvious benefit of paying workers more, is that there would be several thousand people with a bit more money in their pocket.

"Some of that would inevitably end up being spent on buying things on the internet, meaning there would be more parcels to deliver, which would be good news all round,” he said.

The report argues while flexibility is good for the economy and the workforce, it is being abused.

“The review does not want to stop companies using agency staff, but we propose to address situations in which companies use agency workers over a longer period,” it said.

It added that those who work the same job for more than 12-months should be given same rights as employees or offered the same contracts.

However, The GMB union criticised the review for not going far enough. It has launched legal cases against UK Express Delivery, Amazon, DX Group, and Hermes, as part of its campaign against the gig economy.

It said of the report: “Given the epidemic of precarious work in the UK, this report does not go far enough in fixing a broken system that gives employers the choice of whether to treat their workers fairly or not.”

Employment in the gig economy

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development estimates that in the UK 1.3 million people work in the gig economy.

The Office for National Statistics said in 2017, 52,000 people were self-employed in the mail and courier industries and a further 9,000 in the warehousing sector.