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Government failed to ensure gig workers’ health and safety, High Court finds

"Government failed to ensure gig workers’ health and safety, High Court finds", 16 November 2020.

Gig economy and insecure workers should have the same rights to personal protective equipment (PPE) as employees, the High Court has ruled.

As part of a judicial review following a case brought by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), the court ruled that the UK government failed to properly provide workers the protections given to them by EU directives on health and safety, including the right to be provided with PPE by the businesses they work for and the right to stop work in response to imminent and serious danger.

The IWB argued that insecure workers – including delivery, taxi and private hire drivers – have been shown to be at particularly high risk from coronavirus...

The court found the government failed to properly implement two EU directives by protecting only employees, concluding the EU's use of the term ‘worker’ includes those who work without an employment contract. One directive set out measures to ensure the health and safety of workers at work; another sets out minimum requirements for PPE in the workplace.

This gap in the enforcement of legislation had existed since the directives were transposed into UK law in December 1992, but the IWGB said the pandemic gave the matter a “particular salience and significance”.

The ruling said the government must now take steps to ensure gig economy workers have the same protection as employees...

Alex Marshall, president of the IWGB, said the ruling was “long overdue” and called on the government to take “urgent legislative measures” to ensure workers’ safety...

A government spokesperson said it acknowledges the judgment and “will set out our formal response shortly”.

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