Labour pledges to outlaw freelancing

Labour has pledged to ban all zero-hours contracts,

Which is a bit of a bugger really.

Obviously, I can see the difference between CapX saying yes they want a piece from me today, or no, they’ve enough from other people so nothing today Tim, and someone getting or not getting a MaccyD shift that day.

But I can’t really see the difference in law.

Anyone? How can we still have freelance work on demand and no zero hours contracts?

27 comments on “Labour pledges to outlaw freelancing

  1. Questions on Worstall we can answer:

    How can we still have freelance work on demand and no zero hours contracts?

    We can’t.

    Mr Corbyn knows nothing about anything. It is, therefore, unsurprising that all of his ‘policies’ are stupid. Just how stupid, we will find out over the next few weeks.

    Stupid enough for Guardian readers? Probably.

  2. It’s the “exclusivity” and the one-sided commitment that differentiates a traditional “zero hours” contract from a proper freelancing gig.

    But, of course, that has already been made illegal by the hated Tories. And Cameron at that!

  3. “How can we still have freelance work on demand and no zero hours contracts?”

    B2B. Services rather than service. Delivering a product / project / whatever. Etc.

  4. Noel,

    Apparently the team that were developing the in / out calculator were all contractors. Who left.

    Hence why it was so late.

    The rumour is (I have this about third or fourth hand) that some of the HMRC contractors were offered conversion to permanent contracts of some sort – feasibly actually becoming CS. Quite a lot accepted. And, in their first pay packet, they got huge deductions for back tax. Because, obvs, they had been disguised employees all along*.

    The uptake of the second round of conversion to permie was, understandably, zero.

    * I’m not sure I would be allowed to do this as an employer. So I don’t see why HMRC can do it through PAYE. But I can imagine the bastards trying.

  5. How can we distinguish between the two? One is piece-work, you are paid per article written; the other is time-work, you are paid by hour.

    Obviously if you try to ban hourly workers from having zero-hours contracts, some employers will find creative ways to reclassify their employees’ labour as piece-work. But in many cases that’s simply not practical – a security guard is paid for the hours he works, not per building guarded.

  6. SE

    I spotted that – re NZ

    Murf is always claiming that tax cannot be simplified (idiot idiot).

    Someone presents a real example of a country doing just that. Ah, but it’s a tax haven…

    Snake oil / fraudster – none of them come remotely close.

  7. I was also amused by Spuds response to Peter. It was an interesting description of how NZ went from a complicated system with lots of loopholes, intended and unintended, to a simplified one requiring only a folded A3 page for explanation, and 25% of that was taken up with the declaration.

    Spuds response:

    “I think you m ay [sic] be offering a glossy view of New Zealand

    It’s a tax haven, for a start “

  8. You could probably curtail the abuse by setting a much higher minimum hourly wage for zero-hour contracts and prohibit exclusivity clauses. If you set it high enough that 100 monthly hours puts you in the middle class, the McDonalds’ of the world would not employ their cashiers that way.

    Of course, Andrew M is also right. Piece work is priced differently, and there’s a bit of abuse in that as well.

  9. Estonia also reduced their tax returns to a simple A4 page. No doubt they’d count as a tax haven to Ritchie.

  10. Doesn’t the LHTD define anywhere with income and corporation taxes less than 98% a “tax haven”?

  11. The problem with every party but UKIP and Conservative is that they have no clue about what’s current in commerce. They either have a 1970s view of factories of large men bashing metal, or a view based on highly protected industries like lawyers.

    Zero hours contracts are popular with staff as well as employers. McDonalds staffing is managed by getting mothers working school days, and students working school holidays. Works for everyone.

  12. Andrew M

    some employers will find creative ways to reclassify their employees’ labour as piece-work. But in many cases that’s simply not practical – a security guard is paid for the hours he works, not per building guarded.

    Actually, doesn’t that example work just fine? Ie, £x per “night” per “building successfully guarded” (“successful” being suitably loose!) – or similar?

    In the zero stuff, as SE says, wasn’t it the combination (or contradiction?) of “exclusivity” and “lack of obligation” that really caused the problem?

  13. BiW

    My daughter loved them when at uni. Got her money for the summer. Worked weekends on tables at restaurants or late night at bars.

    Not sure we should try and make it possible to have a good family life with three kids, a semi-detached and overseas holidays while despatching hamburgers.

    For the uneducated that our education system is turning out it is good to have jobs lke MacD jobs. They, at least, organise you, teach you a surprising amount and pay you. But anyone can do them.

  14. Estonia also reduced their tax returns to a simple A4 page. No doubt they’d count as a tax haven to Ritchie.

    Without any shadow of a doubt Richie will classify them as a tax haven as they don’t implement progressive taxation, but have a flat rate tax of 21%

    Well, flattish anyway.

  15. The U.S. government has done so much for labor over the past 50 years that there are now 95,000,000 Americans out of the work force.

  16. “You could probably curtail the abuse by setting a much higher minimum hourly wage for zero-hour contracts and prohibit exclusivity clauses.”

    Zero-hours contracts are essentially a way employees and employers conspire to get around the destructive effects of minimum wage law.

    Minimum wages price a large segment of the workforce out of the job market. They don’t have the skills to do jobs that make a minimum wage worthwhile, so they are condemned to lose their jobs. Nice one, socialists.

    Rather than surrender and lose their one hope of ever escaping poverty, low wagers compete to find jobs by saving money for the employer elsewhere. They accept worse terms and conditions, longer unpaid hours, less flexibility, fewer perks, or alternative contractual arrangements like zero-hours contracts.

    The poor employees don’t like it – a guaranteed-hours contract for less money would be preferable to them. That’s what they chose before that was outlawed. But the socialists blocked that and forced them on to the worse alternative.
    And now seeing that people are finding ways around their scheme, they’re now campaigning to block the remaining escape routes.

    The correct way to “curtail the abuse” is to first educate everyone on the adverse consequences of minimum wage laws for unskilled workers, and then secondly to scrap them. A good third step would be to improve ways to up-skill these workers so they can earn more.

    Zero-hours contracts suit some people. They’ve got enough savings or alternative sources of income to live on, but wouldn’t mind a bit of extra pocket money. It shouldn’t be outlawed. But for people who need a regular income, but can’t do anything worth a minimum wage, they should be allowed to choose to work for less if they like.

  17. I’m not sure I would be allowed to do this as an employer. So I don’t see why HMRC can do it through PAYE.

    Because FYTW. (F**** You, That’s Why)

  18. I’m on what would probably be called a zero-hours contract. Support desk phones at 4pm says “call-out tomorrow at X, are you available?” If yes,do that half-day’s work, get paid. Average about 1.5 days per week. Presumably my employer would have to take me on full-time and pay me to sit at home 3.5 days a week.

    What about authors? Currently: write book, send to publisher, get paid if and only if publisher decides to publish it. Just like when I wrote computer magazine articles in the 80s. Presumably, authors will have to be full employees of publishers and paid a regular weekly wage regardless of output. Wey hey! Money for old rope (I have simple tastes…)

  19. There’s no doubt that some organisations were operating in the greyest of grey areas and some protection was needed against their abuse, but as always with the left the baby will be thrown out with the bath water because they can’t stand that most people are quite happy looking after themselves and benefit from whatever it is they are trying to stop.

  20. Wife does temp work, a zero hours contract. She says she is available the day before, they contact her back and tell her to attend which site (same customer, 2 different sites) and what time to be there – and what time work starts.
    If don’t get there for time specified (which is half hour or 45 minutes before work starts) then moved to a later shift.
    Several times have turned up, waited around for the time till work starts only then to be told sorry we don’t have work for you.
    No work means no pay. Lose £50 or so out of pay packet the following week. 9.30pm is a bit late to start looking for other work that night however.

    It does have its advantages though – days when hers too ill to work, days when she has to look after me, days when cannot work – she simply tells them hers not available for that day.

    Some nights there can be over a hundred agency workers on shift on a site – remove zero hours contracts and can see that being a lot less agency staff. And the client isn’t going to try going for full capacity in staffing itself due to the nature of the business.

  21. jgh – the employer can take you on for 1.5 days a week. But them specifying the days, not you.

  22. Promble is, the work turns up at the agency at random times, usually dependent on when somebody had knocked a cup of coffee into a printer.

  23. @Andrew M, April 30, 2017 at 8:34 am

    How can we distinguish between the two? One is piece-work, you are paid per article written; the other is time-work, you are paid by hour.

    Obviously if you try to ban hourly workers from having zero-hours contracts, some employers will find creative ways to reclassify their employees’ labour as piece-work. But in many cases that’s simply not practical – a security guard is paid for the hours he works, not per building guarded

    Easy:
    patrols on foot – fit pedometer and pay per step.
    gate guard/cctv watcher – pay per breath

    As you said: “employers will find creative ways”

  24. I believe that some zero hour contracts force the person to work when told but don’t promise them that work. So the person can’t plan other work in that time.

    That’s not freelance, who can decline work.

    Although many freelancers can’t actually decline or they will never be asked again, so might as well be on zero hours.

    The example of freelancers won’t excite most Corbynites, but ask them how they think schools are going to fill supply (relief) hours. Supply teachers are effectively on zero hour contracts, because hours are unpredictable and vary wildly from week to week. To give them all fixed hours would be ruinously expensive. Too expensive even for Corbyn.

  25. “I believe that some zero hour contracts force the person to work when told but don’t promise them that work. So the person can’t plan other work in that time.”

    Yes they can. They just make sure all the other work is proper freelance or piece work, so they can delay it or turn it down if they get called in on the zero-hours one.

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