The High Court has granted permission to the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) to proceed with a judicial review that could extend health and safety rights to hundreds of thousands of so-called “gig economy“ workers.
The IWGB is arguing that the UK Government has failed in its obligation to transpose health and safety directives from EU law into UK law. Whereas UK health and safety law only protects employees, EU law extends these protections, to all those classified as workers.
If successful, the judicial review would force the Government to extend health and safety protections to all ’workers’, including those working on platforms such as Uber and parcel courier firms.
This would include a right to personal protective equipment (PPE) and a right to bring legal action against an employer if a worker suffers a detriment or is dismissed after refusing to work under unsafe conditions.
IWGB President Henry Chango Lopez said: “Gig economy workers have been among those with the highest death rates from Covid-19. This isn’t by accident, but the result of a failure by this and past governments to properly implement health and safety legislation. For far too long, the government has turned a blind-eye to the abuses of gig economy employers, allowing them to make up the rules as they go along, while ignoring the safety of their staff. With this case we will start to reclaim some of the basic rights that are being routinely denied to these workers.”
The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has joined as a second defendant to the proceedings, alongside the first defendant, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. The Health and Safety Executive has been added as an interested party.
The IWGB has launched a crowdfunder to cover the potential cost liabilities, which the judge has now capped to £4,500.
Image credit: Pixabay/IWGB