Self employed work and working for an employer

I agree that people should not end up working for one employer for less than the living wage, under duress to say they are self employed. Uber made clear this is not what they do. I am also in favour of people being able to suit themselves when they work by opting for self employment, and having other jobs at the same time if they wish and if they can manage them. Many of the drivers like the flexibility they gain from their work, and they do other things as well.

I mainly get around central London by walking or by tube. Sometimes I am given a lift in a hired vehicle if I am going to a studio to provide a tv or radio interview. More of the production companies now offer their guests who take no fees a drive there and back, and may use a hired car. When this happens I often ask the driver to tell me what he thinks of the remuneration system and how it affects his life.

The drivers I have talked to so far are either very positive about the system, or neutral. I have not yet been driven by a strong critic of the scheme. One driver told me he had come to the UK as a migrant. He earned good money because he drove long hours. He had recently managed in his spare time to qualify as a technical computer specialist of some sort. He was now setting up his own computer service company and would flex his driving hours down as his business developed. I asked him why he had not left driving to work for a computer company with his new qualification. He said because that would be a pay cut, and because he wanted the flexibility to set up his own business whilst still having sufficient income.

Another older driver had a different approach. Instead of working long hours to make good money, he set himself a target each day of how much money he wanted to earn. On a good day he got home early, offering and needing less than a day’s work. On a bad day it took all day to hit target. I was with him on a bad day, largely because there was unusually high congestion stopping drivers completing enough jobs.

This issue needs some commonsense to resolve it. Of course no-one should be made to be self employed yet work for just one firm and end up below the living wage. But shouldn’t people who want to be self employed, want to do more than one thing, and want to be flexible about how many hours they work and how much they earn also have the right to do just that?


  1. Mark B
    November 2, 2016

    Good morning.

    I have found that the only goverment that was ever friendly SME’s and the Self-Employed was the Thatcher goverments. Yes they started to cut back on what could and claimed, but generally they left the market alone.

    Fast forward to today and we have a government that seems to want to practically run private business themselves, such is the level of interferance. Whether it be forcing companies to make their employees take on pension liabilities and a gender quota or tell them the nationalites of the people they employ.

    Government has no business being in business. End of !

    1. Anonymous
      November 2, 2016

      Mark B – I disagree.

      Businesses must not be allowed to rely on imported labour which is subsidised by the taxpayer.

      – no in-work top-ups
      – a charge for the displaced UK worker on benefits
      – a charge for schooling, hospitals, housing of that imported employee

      The government must stand up for the British people and a serious analyses of the cost/benefits of such business arrangements to Britain needs to be made.

      I bet there are companies that are a net cost to Britain because of its use of migrant labour, not a gain.

      1. Lifelogic
        November 2, 2016

        Businesses will use whatever labour they are allowed to use, they will try to obtain the best workers for the job and will pay them market rate.

        It they do not they will become uncompetitive and go bust or get taken over. Unlike the state sector they live in a competitive market and compete or die.

        It is for the government to decided who can come in and work.

        1. acorn
          November 2, 2016

          You say “It is for the government to decided (sic) who can come in and work.” Then down the page you say “Exactly government is totally incompetent at running the things they actually do run.”

          Can we therefore assume LL, that you are happy with an incompetent government approving who can come in and work?

          I have asked you this question before LL. When you go to bed at night, are your room doors and windows, locked from the inside or the outside?

          1. Lifelogic
            November 3, 2016

            I am not at all happy with incompetent governments running things, but some things alas have to be decided and run by governments. Allbeit far fewer than all the things they currently attempt to run.

            Let us hope they can be made less incompetent now that we are “hopefully” returning to more democratic UK based government that can actually respond to the publics demands and can escape the absurd red tape and constraints of the dire EU.

      2. Mark B
        November 2, 2016

        Where did I mention immigrants ?

        1. Jerry
          November 2, 2016

          @Mark B; “Where did I mention immigrants ?”

          So care to explain what you mean by “imported labour”, or are you trying to suggest that someone from say South Berkshire should not be allowed to work in Northern Hampshire without penalty to employee, employer or perhaps both?!

          1. Jerry
            November 2, 2016

            Apologies to @Mark B, you indeed did not mention immigrants but you did say [companies have the government] “tell them the nationalites of the people they employ.”, so scrub my previous question, but what do you mean by the above?

          2. Mark B
            November 3, 2016


            Maximum respect to you.

            My point is that government is finding evermore ways to tell business’s what is good and not good for them. While much I am sure is well meaning, some of it is simply overkill and really needs to stop. Asking business’s to list all foreign workers is just that, overkill. They are here legally and government has no right to pester business and them with such nonsense.

          3. Jerry
            November 5, 2016

            @Mark B; Thanks for the reply, and I agree 100%.

        2. Anonymous
          November 3, 2016

          “tell them the nationalites of the people they employ.”

          This is where you mentioned immigrant labour. I have no problem using immigrant labour where special skills are needed and they are in short supply.

          1. Mark B
            November 3, 2016

            See my post to Jeremy above. It was used as an example of what I meant.

      3. Iain Gill
        November 2, 2016

        and tax them at least as much as locals!
        no national insurance free first year in the country and all the rest

      4. libertarian
        November 2, 2016

        Dear Anonymous

        Please explain what your comment about imported labour has to do with the self employed?

        Just so you know, we have far more jobs available than there are people unemployed. If British workers want jobs they are there for the taking. We have massive and growing skills shortages

        Most UK employers using imported labour do so only because UK workers dont want the jobs

        1. Iain Gill
          November 2, 2016


          1. libertarian
            November 3, 2016

            Iain Gill

            Having read your CV , youd be better off learning some new skills rather than arguing black is white.

            I have all the daily real time data that backs up my points whilst you have nil knowledge of the job market

        2. Lifelogic
          November 3, 2016

          Do not want the jobs (on the terms offered) as they prefer to remain on benefits with a similar level of disposable income (after the cost of getting to and from work) and left with far more time to themselves.

          Or in many cases they are simply not really employable anyway. Many find it hard even to turn up reliably on time or have alcohol, addiction or other motivation problems.

        3. Anonymous
          November 3, 2016

          Mark B raised the subject first.

    2. Lifelogic
      November 2, 2016

      Exactly government is totally incompetent at running the things they actually do run. The NHS, defence, social services, the legal system. social housing and almost everything else. What make them think they can run everyone else’s business too.

      The Uber legal ruling is totally moronic.

      There has been huge interference almost everywhere in business. Workplace pensions, daft employment laws making it hard to get rid of the incompetent, moronic discrimination laws that encourage people to have a go, bonkers health and safely rules, insane tax laws that tax you even if you are not making a profit, new quarterly reporting coming in too it seems.

      The interference in the lettings market has created lots of pointless extra work for millions and it just pushes up the cost of housing and decreases productivity. The whole idea that government know what wages should be if absurd. But then Osborne was absurd. We shall shortly see if Hammond is just as bad he want better productivity but his government is the one depressing it with endless red tape and distractions.

      1. Lifelogic
        November 2, 2016

        Lots of pointless work for lawyers, bureaucrats, tax advisors, accountants, HR consultants, courts & tribunals, health and safely experts and the rest.

        All it does is depressing wages, living standards and productivity and forces prices up. Making the UK less competitive at every turn.

        May alas want yet more of this with quarterly reporting, reporting of foreign workers, gender pay nonsense, expensive green loon energy and all the rest.

        No one in government has even said they will sort out the hugely damaging UBER ruling by making the law clearer so these tribunals cannot cause such harm to the economy with their damaging rulings.

      2. Mitchel
        November 2, 2016

        LL,Jeremy Warner’s article in today’s Telegraph will appeal to you(in fact it could have been written by you!) :”Don’t hold your breath for Brexit radicalism,May’s Brexit is mostly about continuity”with it’s concluding line:-“As if to prove the old adage that all revolutions end up devouring their children,the true radicals find themselves progressively side-lined by establishment Remainers determined to make Brexit their own”.

        May’s first few months reminds me of the famous quote from di Lampedusa’s great Risorgimento novel,The Leopard,”Everything needs to change,so that everything can stay the same”.

        The ballot box was never going to be enough.

        1. Peter D Gardner
          November 3, 2016

          I have to agree with you about Mrs May’s government being about continuity. Her aim is as clear as a pikestaff: two agreements at te end of the Brexit negotiating period: a) Brexit itself, which seems to be sidelined while she concentrates almost exclusively on b) a new entanglement which will be an association or partnership deal.

          She is an administrator, not a leader. To her tidy mind the ideal result will reflect the referendum vote: 48% of EU sovereignty will continue and 52% will be let go.

        2. Lifelogic
          November 3, 2016

          Indeed I always had my doubts about “ex (?) remainer and “we have control of our borders through Schengen May”. She is rather confirming them in spades so far. Even keeping Carney and Haywood on.

          Let us hope Hammond can produce something sensible from the dire complex and unworkable mess that Osborne left behind him.

      3. Iain Gill
        November 2, 2016

        you missed out the state school system which the public sector does a terrible job of running

        school allocation is worse than anything George Orwell would have imagined

        1. Lifelogic
          November 3, 2016


      4. Ed Mahony
        November 2, 2016

        ‘The Uber legal ruling is totally moronic’

        – Who cares?
        All i care about is that we squeeze Uber for as much as we can for the benefit of the Inland Revenue and workers in this country. What exactly does this company from California bring to this country to get so worked up about?
        Make them sweat for their money.

  2. Anonymous
    November 2, 2016

    A London Hackney Carriage driver used to be a very well remunerated job with drivers being able to afford to run their own business, raise a family and buy a London house without state support.

    I do not recall fares being so expensive that black cabs were unusable. In fact I used to use them a lot. Mini cabs for planned long-distance trips.

    My bet is that many Uber drivers are tapping into the state top-up system, particularly if they have families.

    The days of well paid, pensioned jobs are – for the most part – long gone and one thing or the other has to give. Either the state steps in more and more to stop the general standard of living from falling or we let it happen. I think the latter will come to pass.

    Uber drivers are part of the growing precariat in the UK.

    There won’t even be work for them once automated cars have become widespread.

    1. LondonBob
      November 2, 2016

      My impression too, you have put it better than I have, the question is really what sort of country do we want to be and cuts across right and left?

    2. Mark B
      November 2, 2016

      State sector/ taxpayer funded jobs have an awful lot of benefits. Good pay,perks and pensions.

    3. Mitchel
      November 2, 2016

      Anonymous I agree with your analysis,except I take the view the state will step in more and more by printing more and more money(whether that will arrest a general fall in the standard of living is another matter though).The alternative sooner or later will be societal breakdown.

      1. Anonymous
        November 3, 2016

        Mitchell – Money printing is illusory. The price of housing/wage disparity is the most obvious manifestation. It is not arresting the falling standard of living for a good portion of the population, mainly the young.

        They can’t afford to buy the older generations’ houses so the older generation sells to a higher class than the house was built for or puts theirs out to rent crowding more people into the same floor space. Mass immigration keeps the pressure building.

        In other words our people are getting poorer and we head towards a 3rd world approach to life.

        There is an article in the Daily Mail today of some woman renting bits of her London house out, including garden for campers.

        1. Mitchel
          November 4, 2016

          “In other words our people are getting poorer and we head towards a 3rd world approach to life”

          Yes,and printing money,however it is dressed up,is a typically third world “solution” to a state’s financial problems and a government’s reluctance to tackle the root causes.

  3. Roy Grainger
    November 2, 2016

    It is like zero-hours contracts, plenty of people are perfectly happy to work on such contracts as it gives them the flexibility they want. Banning zero-hours contracts and other flexible working arrangements will just result in less jobs.

    1. Jerry
      November 2, 2016

      @Roy Grainger; No one is talking of banning zero hours contracts, the problem was the exclusivity that some contracts used to demand, basically people were contracted for a full time job but only paid for the few hours they were allowed to work.

      In the same way as no one is stopping self employed people working for Uber, other than Uber themselves, by failing to allow the freedoms that legally define self-employment at the HMRC etc.

      1. Roy Grainger
        November 2, 2016

        The Labour Party are talking of banning zero-hours contracts.

      2. Iain Gill
        November 2, 2016

        There has been a stop put to expenses claims for folk working through umbrella companies which is government silly ideas personified. All it will do is force people to operate through personal service companies and pay less tax than they were through umbrellas.

        1. libertarian
          November 3, 2016

          Iain Gill

          The revenue will inspect every contract of a PSC for IR35 compliance on a contract by contract basis , the tax charge on dividend payments increased in the April budget so that isnt even much of a benefit any longer.

          The politicians dont like self employment its that simple. It really is vanishingly simple to create a class of self employment that enables people to work on contract yet collects the right level of tax/ni

          1. Iain Gill
            November 4, 2016


            And the rules for freelancers (where through personal service company, umbrella, or self employed) regarding expenses should be no different to those for employees for the big consultancies who are often contractually based at home and can expense all travel away from home tax free. Why so many variations on what expenses are allowable tax free?

            indeed boris floated the idea of PAYE employees in London being able to claim the tax back on the cost of their travel into London. I have some sympathy with this. People in the PAYE jobs market get a raw deal on expenses and tax, I see no reason why they should not be able to claim tax back on subsistence and travel. Indeed I don’t see why travel to interviews for people looking for a new PAYE job should not be tax deductible.

            indeed in places like Australia regular employees can claim the cost of training and professional conferences against their tax bill, I don’t see why we don’t do this.

            and of course anyone paying into a personal pension cannot get the national insurance refunded that would not have been charged on a company scheme, this again is unfair.

            some equity and sense in tax would probably result in more people paying up.

    2. Simon Platt
      November 2, 2016

      I agree, and commented, below, before reading yours. Perhaps I should have made my comment here.

  4. alan jutson
    November 2, 2016

    I am afraid that all too many politicians do not understand the mindset of the self employed, the way they work, and why they choose that route to earn a living or start a business.

    As a result for years we have had a tax and benefits system which is far too rigid in its application to suit or encourage such people.

    You outline a classic example of someone who wants to start up their own business, but wants to enter such a venture in a careful manner by slowly increasing their hours in that business, without having first to leave existing employment which will have been funding their existing living expenses.

    Many a small business is started on a part time basis from home, before it grows to a size where proper office/workplace premises are rented or purchase.

    Such people should be encouraged, not penalised with complex tax and benefit arrangements by people who simply want to tick boxes.

  5. Narrow Shoulders
    November 2, 2016

    @Graham1946 addressed this subject very well on the Roy Spendlove blog. There are HMRC rules about what constitutes self employed and employers and employees can not gain competitive advantage just by saying they operate a contracted out services system rather than using an employee system.

    I am all for freedom and innovation but your piece today has not answered that abuse by Uber. If Uber drivers are self employed then soon Starbucks coffee servers and Sports Direct shopfloor and warehouse staff will be encouraged to take advantage of such freedoms.

    1. A different Simon
      November 2, 2016

      It would seem so obvious that Uber drivers are indeed self-employed that one wonders how the recent ruling came about .

      It must have come from middle class people stuck in the past with a dogmatic belief that an employers/agency/intermediaries obligations extend beyond paying the going rate for the job .

      We have a bloated public sector which should be making provision for (other peoples) old age , not abdicating this duty onto employers/agents .

      The supra-normal profit margin obtained by Uber is surely unsustainable and must in time be driven down by competition .

      1. Lonh
        November 2, 2016

        ‘Must have’ – dogmatic back at you.

      2. Narrow Shoulders
        November 2, 2016

        You can’t just say you are self employed. Neither can your employer. There are criteria that must be fulfilled.

        An Uber driver must take a fare that is assigned to him. There is no choice to decline the work while logged in. Many (not all) Uber location displacement consultants only have one source of income and are not actively seeking others (apart from state handouts). These are not traits of the self employed and employer and employee gain competitive advantage by declaring they are self employed.

        The model can be adapted easily but at present they are gaining unfair advantage. That the customer is a significant beneficiary is irrelevant.

  6. Nig l
    November 2, 2016

    It is about vested interest protecting their fiefdoms to the detriment of us, the consumer who incidentally, from what people have said to me, are united in their praise of Uber, both here and abroad. I visited Lille recently, their metro system, driverless trains, no safety concerns there. Another stranglehold in London that regularly holds us to ransom, that needs to be broken.

  7. Prigger
    November 2, 2016

    Living on the disposable income from one full time employer can be a problem as we all “live up to the salary”, that is we tend to devour it all. Discretionary income becomes minimal if usual overtime or bonuses dwindle or unexpected costs occur. Even a very low paid part-time additional job is wonderful for every penny earned is what some people call Free Money in that it is entirely within their own choice if, when and how they spend it. It is freedom!

  8. Ian Wragg
    November 2, 2016

    Sorry that I seemed to be banned from contributing but I will carry on regardless.
    Generally government is a hindrance to quality job creation.
    By having the living wage they have destroyed traditional apprentice training. This allows foreigners to take the skilled and unskilled job due to their better training.
    The wages are depressed due to a surplus of cheap labour subsidised by the taxpayers.
    Consequently we have more in employment and 2 million locals unemployed and a rising welfare bill
    Tax receipts down. Doesn’t make sense to me.

    1. Denis Cooper
      November 2, 2016

      Don’t worry, most of us are banned from contributing here but still manage to do so, unlike other sites where being banned really does mean that you’re banned. Then there are the other sites which invite comments from readers but don’t publish them unless they agree with the article …

    2. libertarian
      November 2, 2016

      Ian Wragg

      Total cobblers

      1) Apprentices arent paid the living wage, theres a lower rate for apprentices

      2) There were 1,583,669 apprenticeship applications last year

      3) There were 871,800 apprentices working in 2014

      4) There were 499,900 new apprenticeship starts in 2015/16

      The average lifetime earnings of an apprentice are now HIGHER than a graduate

      We have 32 million in work the highest number ever

      We have 756,000 unfilled job vacancies

      The unemployment rate is 4.9% and falling

      There are 1.6 million unemployed

      The long term unemployment rate ( ie more than 6 months without a job) is 1.4%

      Wages are rising

      1. Ian Wragg
        November 2, 2016

        Most of the apprenticeships are rubbish. My neighbours son is doing a 12 month apprenticeship in office procedures.
        Others are doing Barista training classed as apprenticeships
        Our plumber has stopped taking trainees as he has to pay them over £200 per week at the start and very few have any technical knowledge when they leave school
        The East Europeans come here having served traditional 4 or 5 year apprenticeships and are very good. The fact that there is such a large pool of them removes any incentive for companies to take on trainees.
        The NHS is a classic example. They need X amount of nurses annually but only train about half. The same as with other specialists.

        1. libertarian
          November 3, 2016

          Ian Wragg

          Even more cobblers

          The average earnings of apprentices are higher than graduates

          A level 7 apprenticeship is awarded a degree

          76% of apprentices are hired by their company at the end of the apprenticeship

          88% of apprentices find full time work within 6 months of completing their apprenticeship

          Here are the yearly breakdowns of number of apprentices by sector

          Agriculture 11,300

          Arts media publishing 640

          Business and law 117,380

          construction 45850

          Teaching 1870

          Engineering & Manufacturing 101, 910

          Healthcare/public service 73,650

          IT/Comms 17,310

          Travel/tourism 23,720

          Retail/service 97650

        2. Iain Gill
          November 4, 2016

          Agree the word “apprentice” has been devalued massively and completing such a course in no way reflects the level of skill people got completing an apprenticeship in my fathers day. Indeed some of these modern apprenticeships are almost impossible to fail.

  9. Ghost
    November 2, 2016

    There is worldwide debate over the virtues of standard minimum wages, hours of work and the “self-employed” status.

    I once had three jobs: a full-time one with the Local Authority without available overtime in my sector, no training to myself for career progression as they did not wish to promote me which, also denied me necessary skills to get another job.They made my life a living hell for I was not liked. I worked! Worse-still, I worked very hard!

    I managed to find two part-time jobs offering in addition other skill sets completely outside a use-value in my own full-time job. The few hours of the part-time jobs rocketed as my part-time employers appreciated Work! Within months I was working more “part-time” hours than full. Personages within the Local Authority found out as my jobs were public-facing. Purely for personal nastiness they tried to curtail my part-time work but found at the time they could not.

    The very low-paid rudimentary part-time work gave me the freedom to learn and train, get above the basic money and laziness of the Local Authority Employer and his nepotistic “managers” and “supervisors”

    Yet Corbynistas, true socialists, are blind to their created institutional corruptions, without understanding the hell of wage/state regulated employment. Their ideas look and sound wonderful as is always the case with socialist rhetoric. But have unforeseen and unrecognised consequences which the descendants of Marxism have not found workable solution vis-à-vis the internal dynamic of their ideology.

    In “part-time” “self-employed” language words:— Socialism is trash!

  10. Antisthenes
    November 2, 2016

    Interventionists whether it is government, NGO, trade union(white or blue collar), a concerned citizen, moralists or some other interested organisation no doubt have good intentions to them at least. If they are not careful and do not fully think through all the consequences of their actions, which I perceive to be often, what may start out as an action to improve the quality of life may not achieve it.

    Sometimes it is the correct action that achieves the intended outcome and all benefit. That does not occur as often as many of us believe. It may do so for a few at the expense of many or it may only cause harm and reduce quality of life benefiting only the interventionists who will be satisfied that despite the poor end result their moral or ideological or protection of a vested interest obligation has been dutifully discharged.

    The Uber action does not fall into the first category but certainly falls into the other two and at the same time throwing up complications How the new regime can be implemented in a practical manner, very difficult under the circumstances or be circumvented because it is must be exercising the minds of both drivers and Uber. No doubt the consequences of forcing drivers to stop being self employed with all the flexibility and cost saving benefits that derived from that for Uber, the drivers and the public did not exercise the minds of the interventionists. For them if the cause is just then nothing else matters. The mind set prevalent of the left. The rise of socialist and progressive dogma all stem from it and we are paying a high price because we are such a load of busy bodies.

  11. Bert Young
    November 2, 2016

    Driving long hours is dangerous and ought to be controlled . I would never want to be a passenger if I knew that the driver had been at the wheel for over 6 hours ; concentration becomes difficult and the ability to stay “calm”.

    Self regulation is one thing , common-sense is another . There are enough warnings about this on motorways ; such warnings should apply everywhere .

  12. margaret
    November 2, 2016

    Nurses do it all the time . At one time prior to semi retirement I had 4 jobs all at once. It is a myth that a highly qualified Nurse will get good jobs. As soon as they reach a good grade they will be ousted out of the system and the only employment they can get is with agencies or as little as a few hours a week with the NHS or start straight at the bottom of all the grades as a newly qualified . Pre 1990 it was not like this. Everyone wants cheap .
    Of course we can become self employed , but we share the same problem of managing the occasional hour with all the extra work which goes into making it pay and keeping on top of courses and professional ability for revalidation . They take the mick.

  13. stred
    November 2, 2016

    This ruling could ruin many other businesses apart from self employed taxis using an agency. For example, my son has just started an internet agency providing skills. He employs people skilled in the resource from all over the world and pays them about 75% of his takings. Unfortunately, owing to VAT admin costs and complication, he has had to register and pay tax in Ireland. If the UK makes part time self- employment impossible, he will have to move to another more sensible country. He can’t even pay for his own holidays, let alone 50 agency workers.

  14. choice
    November 2, 2016

    The increase in regulation from the EU “workers rights” are what they seem. The knock-on effect though, is that increasingly only Big Business ( private ) and Big Business ( public..Local Authority and associated regular contractors ) have the financial weight to underpin the “workers rights” . The beginning of the end result is Big Business public and private becomes a monopoly. In becoming a monopoly it prevents the little guy and gal choice of who they would like their boss to be. Employing panels are legend in promoting clones of themselves ( I am being too polite and diplomatic ).
    The middle of the end result of regulation is that creativity, innovation, the imperative to “get the job done” one sees in smaller outfits but is stifled in larger outfits (public and private ) is the norm.
    The true end result is less production, less job satisfaction, the destruction of the work ethic “Why should we bother?” “Working hard gets you nowhere” “You have to know someone to get on” ” My boss does not know his earlobe from his eyebrow” “To hell with it, I don’t get paid to think.. .just let it carry on..” etc etc

    We recognise the phrases don’t we? It is the end of the end of the ideology of restrictions bar the complaining and gnashing of teeth.

    Real workers’ rights are the rights of choice, of being able to move from one job to another. Lower paid jobs provide necessary competition via their companies for Big Business and a way out from the torture and virtual working-imprisonment that only Big Business can get away with.

  15. Leslie Singleton
    November 2, 2016

    On Channel 4 News one of the Uber complainants was asked why, if he didn’t like what Uber offered, he was using their service, which he agreed had been clearly explained to him and which he understood well. He replied that there were (he said) no other jobs (he could do). I rather doubt this but even if it is true I cannot see why Uber, a private company that came up with and puts in to practice a brilliant idea, should suffer in any way.

    1. Leslie Singleton
      November 2, 2016

      Postscript–I must have got this wrong but I think it was said on that News that the complainant is not an employee, indeed he said that he did not want to be “employed” but that he was and is a “worker” so, despite not being employed it is necessary to find the nearest thing to an employer (Uber of course) and cream them. Apart from loathing anything of this nature I cannot understand the thinking and would be happy to have it explained. Possibly, though again I do not know, the Employment Tribunal system is biased in some way always in favour of the “worker”. The complainant and those like him would see matters slightly differently if they were to try and set up a business in this silly country. Apart from the serious money involved , just the admin for this sort of nonsense is something to be reckoned with, especially having to keep track of the Law so as to have a chance of defending oneself against the many completely spurious complainants. I imagine millions more would set up new businesses if this baloney were got rid of.

    2. Ed Mahony
      November 2, 2016

      ‘I rather doubt this but even if it is true I cannot see why Uber, a private company that came up with and puts in to practice a brilliant idea, should suffer in any way.’

      – Because their brilliant idea remains nothing more than a brilliant idea unless it can find workers to put it into practise.
      Brilliant ideas should be rewarded (I’m a moderate-right wing Conservative not a socialist or a liberal democrat) but doesn’t mean others should have to ‘suffer’ with poor working conditions as a result of it.

      1. Leslie Singleton
        November 2, 2016

        Dear Mr Mahoney–Nobody forces them to do it, nor even close, and in any event there is no question of the “workers” “suffering”, none whatsoever, only Uber. Forcing Uber to give out holiday pay and all the rest in these circumstances is just plain bonkers.

        1. Ed Mahony
          November 3, 2016

          ‘Nobody forces them to do it’

          – Nobody forced people to work in those dark Satanic mills in Dickens’ day. Sure, you can’t compare how awful the working rights were then compared to now. But you can compare how people don’t really have that much ‘choice’ when it comes to work bot then and now. And we must protect workers to a degree. And especially from a foreign company not really offering much to this country except denying the Inland Revenue of some of its tax receipts. I just find the concern being shown to Uber management really strange. I just don’t get it, and it concerns me because it seems more about ideology than pragmatism.

  16. Ed Mahony
    November 2, 2016

    ‘But shouldn’t people who want to be self employed, want to do more than one thing, and want to be flexible about how many hours they work and how much they earn also have the right to do just that?’

    – It’s not black and white: either keep or get rid of Uber. Uber has its pros and cons (lots of detailed journalistic work has been done on this on TV, print and online). Just that i think we should make Uber management in California sweat a bit for their money that’s all – whilst not forgetting British workers and the Inland Revenue here in the UK. It’s not after all as if Uber are providing highly skills jobs that leads to services or goods being exported abroad.
    (And being protectionist about Uber doesn’t mean you’re protectionist about other things e.g. like decent jobs provided by Nissan in Sunderland, with the goods they produce getting exported to Europe).

    1. Denis Cooper
      November 2, 2016

      If we took drastic protectionist measures to shut out vehicles produced elsewhere in the EU then UK based companies like Nissan could become suppliers to the UK domestic market instead of manufacturing for export, could they not?

      You make the usual mention of exports to the rest of the EU, but have you ever looked at how the value of cars imported into the UK from the rest of the EU compares to the value of cars exported to the rest of the EU?

      Well, on page 9 here:

      there’s a graphic of trade flows, and one bubble contains these words:

      “Exports: £12.5bn, -0.9%
      Imports: £35.3bn, 3.5%”

      That’s £35 billion of domestic UK demand for cars going to manufacturers in the rest of the EU instead of UK based manufacturers.

      Then there are other bubbles, showing how the UK has car export surpluses to the rest of the world; so, yes, the UK car industry is indeed a successful exporter, as is often said, but to countries outside not inside the EU, which is not often said.

      1. Ed Mahony
        November 2, 2016

        Hello. I wasn’t making a point about the EU although I accept your points about it.
        I was making a point about Uber (management) – why some people seem to get so upset about a company whose profits go to California and which doesn’t bring high skills to this country! Why are people even having this conversation? Bizarre.

  17. a-tracy
    November 2, 2016


    To answer your last question, yes of course people should be self-determining in their daily work endeavors but can you explain to me what the charge to employer’s of Employer’s National Insurance is for if it doesn’t apply to the self-employed?

    It no longer covers statutory sick pay and this is an addition charge on an employer that the employer has to cost into their rates, the self-employed complain about the lack of sick pay but they become their own employer so they must cost it into their rates the same as an employer has to.

    Can you explain why a self-employed driver doesn’t have to comply with the domestic driving hours rules and can drive extremely long days with their journeys to their first pick up or on their return from their last drop not classed as working time as it is for an employee when it is a safety issue?

    Does the tax office check on the payments that these taxi apps pay out to drivers match their tax returns?

  18. bigneil
    November 2, 2016

    For a lot of migrants just paying a trafficker to get one family member here illegally, results in ALL the family being allowed to come. This then enables them to ask for a house, on us, NHS, on us, schooling, on us, benefits, on us. Why work, when getting here illegally results in the whole family getting all they need, supplied from our taxes, for doing nothing, but as a result of one criminal act? There is no wonder why I get nothing after a life of work and paying in, yet foreigners can commit a criminal act and then sit back as everything rolls in. How long do you think a dwindling proportion of the (ever increasing )population who are paying in – can keep supporting hundreds of thousands who turn up and collect?

    1. fedupsoutherner
      November 2, 2016

      Bigniel. I agree. Looking at the migrants left in Calais none of them are children. 800 are to be assessed to come to the UK. Unbelievable. We can’t look after our children now so these will be another burden and that is if they are children in the first place. The sooner we are out of the EU, the better.

    2. anon
      November 2, 2016

      I suspect a merging of paye & ni or abolition of NI,would soon make the story a non issue. How about that for a QE funded wheeze?

      Someone previously mentioned the number of would be genuine asylum seekers in the world never mind economic migrants and worse benefit migrants. (A spectator article perhaps)

      The rules need to re calibrated to and those who just turn up need to be sent home or sent to a safe holding 3rd country or destination of their choice or not as the case maybe. This would then support the legitimate system which itself needs to be curtailed.

      1. a-tracy
        November 4, 2016

        Would that merging of paye and NI mean the self-employed paying 25.8% NI over the lel as employees contribute,

  19. The Narrative
    November 2, 2016

    I do not stick like chocolate to a blanket re: the narrative that self-employed work is a bad thing. I hear Americans are very much more used to the idea of self-employment. Some over-enthusiastic Republicans call it “The American Way” . All said, our schools should be teaching and training our children not only the theory of self-employment but actually how to become self-employed with specific and realistic goods and services which they might provide. A couple of hours work per week helping people fix and get the best out of their home technologies including lap-tops springs immediately to mind. Most young people who consider themselves quite worthless in some cases are veritable computer whizz-kids to someone of my generation.

    Irrespective of the economic and political pros and cons, we owe it to ourselves to be Self-Employment-Literate which I hereby christen with the acronym SEL

    SEL , my invention, means to sell ourselves but not to employers who may enslave us but to sell our work and with each sell, we sell ourselves to ourselves enhancing what we truly think of ourselves ( usually British people are frightfully, beneath the surface whatever their outward appearance including big-headedness, very very self-critical to the point of inner hysteria )
    Of course you might end up proving to yourself that you’re quite a worthless piece of dirt in accordance with what your teachers and former employers considered you to be all along. They will all be most proud of you for realising their heaven-sent-wisdom. But they will not employ or teach you again, for you have begun to think, independently of them.

  20. Kenneth
    November 2, 2016

    What’s the problem?

    Surely a contract is a matter between the parties

    1. StevenL
      November 2, 2016

      So Parliament shouldn’t be allowed to make any contract law? It should be left entirely at the discretion of judges to make it up as they go along?

    2. Stephen Berry
      November 2, 2016

      That’s right Kenneth. One of the important ideas underpinning a free society is that when two adults voluntarily enter into a contract, they do so because they think the contract will be of advantage to them. It might be added that they are better judges than the government of where their advantage lies.

      It’s a widely held view – not just amongst leftists – that workers enjoy their present prosperity to government and trade unions intervening in the labour market to correct the worst excesses of “19th century capitalism”. Many people would be astonished if you told them that the high living standards of today are the result not of government intervention but the increased productivity of businesses, pure and simple. Uber and other firms in the digital revolution are simply the next stage of the dramatic rise in living standards begun by industrial capitalism. More power to their elbow!

  21. lojolondon
    November 2, 2016

    A very good point, John, this is a crazy ruling, it stops people working flexibly, and delivers no value to anybody.

    If I can quote from Guido Fawkes website : “someone could be logged into Uber, Hailo, Gett and Deliveroo at the same time and be eligible for a minimum wage from all of them”

    1. scott
      November 2, 2016

      I thought the court ruling made it optional for an Uber driver to claim employee status? If so, an Uber driver that claims employee status would have to work exclusively for Uber, I would have thought.

  22. The Prangwizard
    November 2, 2016

    State control of wages is the cause of this problem and others like it. Government virtue signalling and those who bend their alledged political philosophy to support leftist policies should ask themselves if honesty or self preservation is the motivating factor.

  23. Hickup
    November 2, 2016

    There is Self-Employed working for yourself and Self-Employed working for an employer. Working for an employer and being self-employed seems on the surface of it an oxymoron. In some cases it is a profiteer who does not have the work ethic to give a portion of his profit for those who actually though not technically work for him.

    That being said, though much pressure can be put and is put on workers to work in undesirable circumstances, we are lucky enough in the UK to have the possibility to NOT work though the consequences can lead to divorces, loss of access to ones children through a still daft Parliament obviously on something, loss of home and even friends.

    The working class, as Mrs May delightfully calls everyone who works for a living, should have the option to realistically say “No”. The consequences of which should be seen as a fillip to the work-ethic of employers. They ( employers ) are in short supply of lots of -ics normally associated with sanity and morality. But then they were spoilt at school simply because they were born bright. A split second later in their mothers’ initial fertilisation and a quick flip of a rival spermatazoon and they would be as dim as your average LibDem-er

  24. Richard Butler
    November 2, 2016

    I am ………. right wing, however very mindful that disruptive technologies are effectively introducing a middle man (wealthy minority of capital owners in California for example) between age old transactional landscapes, f0r example cabby – passenger, coming between them in order to divert the tradesman’s wages into their own bulging pockets. Big Banks are dreaming up ways to intrude on all sorts of traditional commercial interactions and this is having a detrimental effect on tradesman’s incomes. Do we want the Thomas Pickety vision to become reality, whereby ordinary peoples wages are dipped into by those lucky enough to hold capital, the reinter society?

    I am lucky to be a capital holder, I own some properties in return for rent, but I do worry that people I know seem ever more frozen out of prosperity and subjected to become renters in all areas of their lives, to include now Californian capital holders finding ways of dipping into their incomes (there are lots of Uber type eco-systems emerging that take money away from workers)

    I sound like a right commie, oh no

    1. Ed Mahony
      November 2, 2016

      No, you’re not a commie.
      Good luck to those behind Uber in California. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make them sweat for their money over here (and related to this, not forgetting how other companies from California and other places in the US aren’t pay their taxes here in the UK ..).
      Instead, the government should be focusing on:
      1) Giving the red-carpet treatment to foreign companies such as Nissan who offer proper jobs, with training, with the goods these workers produce, getting exported abroad.
      2) Supporting our own entrepreneurs more as well as businesses here to export abroad
      3) Thinking of our own workers
      4) Thinking of the Inland Revenue
      We should be concerned by the genuine concerns of Uber’s management in California but their concerns should be at the bottom of the list!
      Nothing commie about this. Just thinking of our own economy, entrepreneurs, companies, workers and inland revenue, using pragmatism as opposed to just idealism, to achieve all this whilst trying to keep our economy as open to free trade as possible (but in a pragmatic sense as opposed to a blind ideological sense only).

    2. Antisthenes
      November 2, 2016

      No you do not sound like a “right commie” you sound like a right prat. You obviously do not understand how technology, innovation and enterprise works to make us all more prosperous and that improves the amount of pay in pay packets and has been doing for some centuries now. There are some casualties along the way who have to embrace new working practices or take up new vocations but that is inevitable and unfortunate but we have designed mechanisms to help them do that. To use Thomas Pickety’s vision to emphasise your point is ludicrous because his understanding of anything least of all economics is tantamount to you accepting that the moon is made of blue cheese. His scribblings are at best based on flawed research and highly biased interpretations of that research.

  25. Iain Gill
    November 2, 2016

    Really our political masters could do with some heavy simplification of the legal framework for people who WANT to be freelancers.
    At the moment it’s a confusing mess.
    You can be self-employed (lots of people wont hire you as they want the arms length protection from legal challenge that having a ltd company in the middle brings), you can trade through your own one man band limited company (and incur the hassle of accountants and complexity (IR35 etc)), which can make it not worthwhile if you only want to do one 3 month engagement then go back to permanent work, you can trade through an umbrella although all of the common sense about being able to claim business expenses tax free have been wiped out by recent HMRC rule changes.
    Why is it so complex?
    It seems, given the massive tax advantages, that the government wants freelancers to trade through personal service companies, but then the government puts all sorts of hassles in the way of that.
    Most freelancers I know want a simple way to bill their clients, simple way to have professional indemnity insurance, lowest tax deal possible, and lowest hassle way possible of being organised, why is it so hard?
    In the case of Uber they were vulnerable by using self employed people, presumably they can just move on to insist the drivers trade through personal service companies and all the employee protection fades away anyway?
    Freelance can be a good model for many people, but the legal framework freelancers trade under needs radical simplification.
    Freelancing for me is also being destroyed by the mass import of cheap labour from abroad. The government is destroying many parts of our freelance market letting countless cheap imports in.

  26. DiggingBigHoles
    November 2, 2016

    It was beyond the political possibility of Labour to have soundly condemned the use of human beings in our coalmines. It demonstrates how the general Good is continually thwarted by political ideologies and the machinery of political standpoints. Margaret Thatcher found a way of helping them and have the Tory Party and the Labour Party swallow it just as sure as every miner swallowed, into his lungs and stomach everything from the lands below us on the way to Hell. You’ve really have had to have been a miner to read me, (and one who never got used to it.)

    Yet, we haven’t a great deal to say where we manage to get a job and career. Well many get locked into careers simply because day-by-day they get more experienced. No employer wishes to employ someone who can’t start the job running. So employers are addicted to keeping people in career lines where they are grossly unhappy and where, in job interviews, they have to lie and smile and say how they get tremendous job satisfaction from shoveling all kinds of yukky stuff.
    Self-employment could be a possibility for many

  27. scott
    November 2, 2016

    Theresa May’s government suggested companies publish what percentage of their work force is foreign. I would also like her to make companies publish what percentage of their workforce is on in-work benefits. I think knowing these two statistics would help build a better understanding of the kind of business model they use, and what value they add to our society.

  28. Trevor Sutton
    November 2, 2016

    I was always under the impression that different tax areas took different views on being self-employed and only working for one company. Some areas said nothing and others refused to accept that the individual was self employed. If this is still the case some of these drivers in the ‘wrong’ area must be in an impossible situation.

  29. DumbfoundedFathers
    November 2, 2016

    Watching PM Question Time today, no-one asked The Rt Hon Mrs May PM if she communicates on vital issues about defence and other matters on any of her private mobile phones or has a private Computer Server hidden away in a cupboard at home outside the internet defence systems of our Security Forces and whatever internet defence mechanisms are available to key MPs. No doubt it would be a silly question to ask: an unthinkable thought which would not get so far as even a casual question.

    Hillary Clinton appears to get away with (too much ed). An utterly bizarre form of democracy in the Western World.

  30. Denis Cooper
    November 2, 2016

    We’ve been watching the BBC2 series “The Victorian Slum”:

    and it was described how hundreds of men, casual workers, would gather before the dock gates hoping for a day’s work, many would be disappointed, and wages would be driven down, until there was a successful strike for a minimum of four hours continuous work at a time and a minimum rate of sixpence an hour.

    So I’m a bit wary about what is going on now. Obviously it can be a good system if that is what people really want to do, but it could leave the door wide open for exploitation.

    November 2, 2016

    Off Topic:

    Some of us enjoy the razzamatazz of US Election Campaigns. Ours in comparison are in need of a large dose of Syrup of Figs and for Ken Clarke to actually retire.

    It is worrying however for those who do not have a blind and Absolute faith such as myself in our Establishment.

    There is no indication the Hillary Clinton open Server has presented diplomatically “a cause for concern” in our Security Forces and those forces governed by Parliament. It is not a question, actually, of whether the “C” meaning Confidential was amongst her emails and whether she understood it as Confidential for which she apologises and says she didn’t but the fact that ANY communication to ANY body on ANY subject is of intense interest by foreign powers.
    The Sherlock Holmes “The dog that didn’t bark” is in fact rather more sophisticated than that. Microsoft algorithms can detect a thousand “dogs that didn’t bark and a whole host of barking dogs who mysteriously barked in unison when one or two should not etc etc. What I mean is, any utterance by any important government person can be analysed in so many ways, interactions noted, time, content, missing content etc ad infinitum that…well, does America pose a threat to our defence security despite their best efforts?
    If we are being told the truth about FBI former investigations it is clear no American politician however high should be trusted when we have our soldiers in the field.They are not just loose cannons, they are no bloody canon at all.

  32. Simon Platt
    November 2, 2016

    I have asimilar opinion about zero-hours contracts. They get a bad press, but one of my sons, when he was a university student, had a zero-hours contract with a well-known retail firm. It worked very well for him, because when he had particularly busy times with his studies – for example when completing his dissertation – he was able to reduce his working hours, even to zero, to compensate.

    He had a good experience. Others might have had worse experiences, but this was not because of their zero-hours contract, but because of the nature of their employer.

  33. Chris
    November 2, 2016

    O/T but this has just appeared in Express online, and seems to echo what Jonathan Hill was suggesting:
    I fear that there are “powers” determined to prevent Brexit, not only outside the UK, but within.

    1. Denis Cooper
      November 3, 2016

      “The German Council of Economic Experts calls for constructive negotiations to prevent an exit, or at the least to come to an agreement that minimizes the damage on both sides.”

      As opposed to the current threats to maximise the economic damage.

  34. Denis Cooper
    November 2, 2016

    Off-topic, Stephen Harper has an article in the Telegraph today tracing the history of CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the EU which has been so much in the news recently:

    As he is presenting this as a major achievement perhaps it’s not surprising that he omits to mention that the projected economic benefit for Canada is very slight while that for the EU is vanishingly small:

    “The CETA is expected to lead to overall gains in welfare, real GDP, total exports, the balance of trade and wages in both Canada and the EU over the long-term. Based on modelling results, these gains will be maximised under an agreement that offers the highest degree of liberalisation.

    Specifically, the modelling estimates that the EU will experience increases in its real GDP of 0.02% to 0.03% over the long-term, while Canada is estimated to see increases ranging from 0.18% to 0.36%.”

    These 2011 estimates are even smaller than the original 2008 projections:

    “The annual real income gain by the year 2014, compared to the baseline scenario, would be approximately €11.6 billion for the EU (representing 0.08% of EU GDP), and approximately €8.2 billion for Canada (representing 0.77% of Canadian GDP).”

    November 2, 2016

    FIFA, miraculously, have, to world agog, kicked its backside below itself. Ugly.

  36. Mick
    November 2, 2016

    Off topic
    Who the hell do these European’s think they are, just let them try or anybody else come to that to overturn the democratic vote of the people of this great county to leave the eu??

  37. Igiveup
    November 2, 2016

    Charles Walker mp Broxbourne looks like a good, sincere lad. Just not awake yet.

  38. pc Confusion
    November 2, 2016

    Tonight a lady on UK BBC addressing an American journalist in America via video-link said in regard to two electoral candidates in the USA, but obviously with a predominantly British audience “It’s a throw-up as to who will win” which sounded a bit odd. The American lady replied “Yes , it’s a toss up to who will win”
    In their own separate pc languages these two ladies, or should I say women, are both individually and jointly (saying odd things ed)

  39. miami.mode
    November 2, 2016

    ……he set himself a target each day of how much money he wanted to earn…..

    If he is allowed to collect in-work benefits, housing benefit or indeed any other type of work-related benefit, how bizarre is that statement? On that basis an individual can virtually write their own benefit cheque.

    One problem with the self-employed such as Uber drivers plus many others in a similar situation who are basically working for one source is that the “employer” does not pay National Insurance Contributions and from the govt website it looks as though the self-employed pay a lower rate of NIC. The state therefore loses on both counts because even though these people may get a lower pension it will step in with a minimum income.

    The current situation for NICs is probably based on practices in the middle of the last century and need to be brought up to date.

    Additionally, although it may seem intrusive, hopefully HMRC will have access to some personal finance records as how often do you hear of the self-employed individual who earns £20k for the taxman and £50k for the mortgage or loan company?

  40. Lindsay McDougall
    November 3, 2016

    There’s one practical consideration that needs to be taken care of if you’re going to have a minimum wage. It relates to care workers who have to make multiple home visits in a single day. They should be paid for travel time and travel mileage between visit locations.

    It should not be beyond the competence of any suitable employer – and we are talking about public authorities and employers of reasonable size to use software to extract the relevant A to B travel times and distances.

    1. a-tracy
      November 3, 2016

      Are these care workers employees or self-employed? Employees must be paid for travel time now there is already legislation. Employer’s use vehicle trackers or phone trackers to monitor and pay this.

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