Attendees and apologies
- Helen Goulden – Nesta (Chair)
- Claire Mack – Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI)
- Patrick Robinson – Airbnb
- Malcolm Roughead – VisitScotland
- John Schmidt - Shepherd & Wedderburn
- Douglas Shand – Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC)
- Graeme Smith – Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC)
- Lorraine King – Scottish Government
- Corey Reilly – Scottish Government
- Jamie Steed – Scottish Government (Secretariat)
- Louise Sutherland – Scottish Government
- Brhmie Balaram - Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA)
- John Binning - Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT)
- Andrew Byrne - Uber
- Andy Chamberlain - The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed
- Dr James Cooper – Scottish Taxis Federation
- Drew Duffy – GMB Union
- Tony Kenmuir - Scottish Taxis Federation
- Lindsey Mullen – Close the Gap
- Merry Scott – LiftShare
- A representative who works in the gig economy – Better than Zero
- Dr Jamie Coleman – Codebase
- Jonathan Coburn – Social Value Lab
- Polly Purvis – ScotlandIS
- Professor Russel Griggs – Chair of Regulatory Review Group (RRG)
Items and actions
The Chair welcomed the group, thanked them for their participation and reminded everyone that the panel’s role is to consider and reflect on the information and data presented by stakeholders. The first half of the meeting would focus on workers’ rights and the gig economy and the second half on peer to peer transportation and logistics with follow up questions and answers. The Chair reminded the panel and explained to stakeholders that there would be participative consumer engagement sessions later on in the year and that the panel’s consideration would be on going until the end of the year. It was also noted that the Matthew Taylor report, Employment Practices in the Modern Economy had been published recently and that while employment law was reserved, the panel was still able to consider this area and make recommendations.
2. Minutes of previous meeting and actions
The minutes were dealt with by correspondence following the meeting. Updates are included as an annex.
3. Stakeholder evidence sessions – Workers’ rights
The Chair invited stakeholders to present their responses to five key questions which were provided in advance. To ensure an open and transparent process, these will be published online alongside the minutes. The following organisations presented to the panel:
- STUC invited GMB union and a representative from the Better than Zero campaign to present to the panel on their behalf;
- Close the Gap;
- The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed; and
- Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce
Deliveroo were unable to attend the evidence session – however provided a submission in advance.
4. Stakeholder evidence sessions – Peer to peer transportation and logistics
The Chair invited stakeholders to present their responses to five key questions which the stakeholders were provided with in advance. The following organisations presented to the panel:
- Strathclyde Partnership for Transport;
- Scottish Taxis Federation;
- Taxi and Transport Research Partners Ltd.; and
5. Follow-up questions from panel to stakeholders
The Chair invited follow-up questions from panel members. Several presentations highlighted that there is a lack of clarity around employment status. This was a common theme where people identify as employees and their employer/platform identifies them as self-employed. The classification has an effect on entitlements such as sick pay, holiday and maternity pay. The need for an information portal where employment status and associated rights as well as guidance for both employees and employers is available was discussed. It was noted that the Mathew Taylor report had recommended that a statutory requirement should be introduced for employees and ‘dependent contractors’ to receive a written statement on their first day on their employment particulars. However, it was agreed this is a complicated issue and various considerations need to be determined such as thresholds from very occasionally through to their principal employment.
There was a discussion around the transient nature of gig economy work - it was felt that this has led to a lack of community feeling amongst workers as they are unlikely to work frequently alongside each other. The topic of gender was discussed as more men in Scotland engaged in the gig economy than women. However, as some of the largest sectors, such as peer to peer transport and logistics, this likely reflects the position of taxis and haulage companies where significantly more males are employed. It was raised that some traditional business models are struggling to compete with the fast pace of the expanding collaborative economy with factors such employee benefits considered as a key point in making them less able to compete. The lack of data on employment displacement and a shift from full to part time work by the collaborative economy was noted.
There was discussion on how peer to peer transportation could benefit the rural economy as many areas do not have consistent and regular access to public transport. Ridesharing has the potential to complement existing transport networks and help provide essential services to communities and assist with demand during seasonal peak times for tourism. The panel discussed that trends showed a potential need for more incentives to encourage a bigger uptake in ridesharing. It was noted that ridesharing contributes towards reducing carbon emissions and to the Draft Climate Change Plan - the draft Third Report on Policies and Proposals 2017-2032 in reducing this.
The panel discussed the differences between a taxi and a private hire car and the associated regulations. These regulations have been in place for a long time and may require review to ensure they are still fit for purpose in the evolving market place. It was noted that there wasn’t a consistent approach on the licensing of vehicles as this was devolved to local authority level. The panel noted that in the case of Uber, there were considerable differences between how it is used in countries, such as America where it is defined as a Transportation Network Company, and how regulation in Scotland means there is a higher barrier to entry. The panel discussed whether other collaborative platforms could compete with the existing players with suggestions that technology, the drivers, supply, price and safety were all factors that could be considered.
The Chair invited final comments from stakeholders, these included:
- clarity of status of an employee needs to be concise to individuals as they need to understand their rights and businesses need to understand their obligations;
- enforcement of employment law is important for employment protection;
- any new policies developed need to equality impact assessed;
- there is a lack of security for workers in the gig economy and they need more protection to remove the existing precarious situation;
- support to encourage people to use rideshare platforms and services and policies, such as discounted parking bays, to embed this; and
- engagement with gig economy workers within the collaborative economy to get a better represented view of what is happening on the ground
The Chair thanked the stakeholders for their contributions and asked them to excuse themselves so that the panel could discuss their findings.
6. Panel debate
The panel noted that key themes had emerged from the session around employment status and associated rights. There is a requirement to bring clarity by providing clear and concise guidance for both workers and employers/platforms. This could help workers make an informed decision before taking on work and ensure that they are treated fairly by making them aware of their rights. It was also noted that the current environment in the collaborative economy can limit career progression and, due to the uncertainty of work, can affect access to credit and mortgages and various other long term commitments. The impact on the wider economy was also considered including levels of productivity and the motivations for people to engage in the collaborative economy.
In relation to developments in peer to peer transport, this provides an opportunity to innovate such as ridesharing in rural areas, which can play an important part in a sustainable transport network and contribute to emission targets. However, there was a need to consider this as part of a wider transport strategy with public transport opportunities maintained. It was noted that the balance of the taxi market has altered due to the introduction of peer to peer transportation companies and that the regulatory environment may need to be reviewed in light of this.
7. Final round up and date and time of next meeting
The Chair thanked everyone for their contributions and looked forward to seeing them next month at the next evidence session, which will focus on collaborative finance including FinTech and balancing competition and regulation. It will be held in the Hallmark Hotel in Glasgow on Thursday 31 August between 12 - 4pm.
Telephone: 0300 244 4000
Consumer and Competition Policy Unit
5 Atlantic Quay