We may be looking at a future where, in order to have a job at all, you have to be self employed. This has vast consequences, for our tax system, our laws and many of our social and commercial structures.
Many former employees are now gladly embracing self-employment. It particularly suits those who need more flexibility than the on-site, eight hours a day model traditionally offered by many employers.
The arguments raging over whether uber is in fact employing its drivers are not theoretical. HMRC is taking a close interest in these employment models, because companies such as uber are avoiding some of the traditional taxes, such as Employers’ National Insurance, that more conventional companies pay to maintain a workforce.
Some of the newly self-employed are also querying the model. Self-employment should mean being able to choose who you work for, and you should have a portfolio of jobs. However, if you are a cab driver and uber is the only show in town, you probably have less control over your working arrangements than an employee in a traditional office.
The TUC has responded from its side by calling for laws to give everyone the full range of employment rights, including the armies of quasi self-employed people working in the new “gig” economy. They’d like to see a situation where employers would have to prove that their workforce was truly self employed.
One thing is clear – people are going to have to adapt more readily to changing opportunities and situations, if they want to earn a living in the future. With the huge cost of college courses, they’re unlikely to go back to academic learning to help them change track. So, they’re going to be looking for innovative ways to upskill and adapt, to help them accommodate a mix of employed, self-employed, contracted and casual jobs, which they constantly change to keep up with the market.