More than half (52%) of gig economy workers do not earn the minimum wage, a new report has highlighted.
The study, led by the University of Bristol, discovered that the average hourly pay for those doing jobs such as food delivery and data entry was just £8.97. This rate is around 15% less than the new minimum rate introduced last month (April) of £10.42 per hour.
Additionally, around three in four (76%) of the 510 respondents who took part in the survey experienced insecurity and anxiety caused by work.
Dr Alex Wood, lead author of the report and senior lecturer in HR management and future of work at the University of Bristol Business School, said: “The findings highlight that working in the UK gig economy often entails low pay, anxiety, and stress. As food, fuel and housing costs keep rising, this group of workers are especially vulnerable and need to be more adequately remunerated and better protected.”
Of those surveyed, 28% believed gig work was putting their health or safety at risk and a quarter (25%) experienced pain while working.
Respondents suggested basic rights, including holiday and sick pay and minimum wage rates, as well as protection against unfair dismissal, would improve their situation. They also expressed a wish for unions and platform councils that represented their needs, with more than three-quarters thinking this move would be immediately beneficial.
Dr Wood added: “A major factor contributing to low pay rates is that this work involves spending significant amounts of time waiting or looking for work while logged on to a platform. Not only is the work low paid, but it is also extremely insecure and risky.
“The self-employed who are dependent on platforms to make a living are urgently in need of labour protections to shield them against the huge power asymmetries that exist in the sector. This clearly warrants the expansion of the current ‘worker’ status to protect them.”
Respondents spent an average of 28 hours per week on gig work, which contributed to 60% of their total income.
Brendan Burchell, Professor in Social Sciences at the University of Cambridge and co-author of the report, added: “Respondents strongly felt the creation of co-determination mechanisms would allow workers, and their representatives, to influence platform provider decisions which could instantly improve their working lives.
“These policies include elected bodies of worker representatives approving all major platform changes that impact jobs and working conditions. Our findings emphasise the potential for trade union growth in this sector, with majorities being willing to join and even organise such bodies.”