Royal Mail welcomes scrutiny into ‘gig economy’

In a speech to shareholders reporting on Royal Mail ‘s half year results, Chief Executive Moya Greene said that she welcomed the scrutiny in the media and Parliament of the so-called ‘gig economy’.

Many companies, notably Uber and Amazon, have taken to using self employed contractors to do their deliveries, who are responsible for their own taxes, National Insurance and tax liabilities as well as when and whether to take time off for holidays. Media investigations have shown that these verge on exploitative in some cases, with examples where the contractor delivery staff have earned less than Minimum Wage or been denied any decent time off – in one case – to give birth to her child.

Greene said, “thankfully there is now some scrutiny into the low pay gig economy.” Referring to the Royal Mail’s labour practices she continued, “We support this, we are proud of our approach to employment at Royal Mail.”

Speaking of Royal Mail’s own practices of hiring through agencies or through its own HR department as an employer (not client) Greene seemed to say that the ‘gig economy’ is giving the delivery industry a bad name in the eye of the public. She continued, “it’s a very different approach, I think unsustainable labour models in the delivery sector affects the reputation of the whole industry.”

It is known that Uber is lobbying the government to relax labour laws and thereby to extend the ‘gig economy’. Work and Pensions Minister Damian Green seems to be interested in what the likes of Uber have to say, as he gave a speech last week to the Reform think-tank where he said, “Just a few years ago the idea of a proper job meant a job that brings in a fixed monthly salary, with fixed hours, paid holidays, sick pay, a pension scheme and other contractual benefits… But the gig economy has changed all that. We’ve seen the rise of the everyday entrepreneur. The potential is huge and the change is exciting.”

Currently Green’s opinions fly in the face of public opinion with Royal Mail’s Greene on the right side of the debate. Only time will tell how this transpires.  
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