UK minimum wage law 'should cover more self-employed workers'

The government has been urged to extend legislation to cover all areas of the UK's self-employed workforce who may be suffering from extremely low pay.

The Resolution Foundation is a thinktank which concentrates on developing policies to help those on low and modest incomes. They said ministers needed to broaden their protection to include new groups including those in the gig-economy and others.

Currently, one in five workers are classed as low-paid, but for those classed as self-employed, half were earning less than the £310 low-pay threshold.

The thinktank claimed the government's introduction of the new ‘national living wage’ reduced low pay among employees, but would not affect the self-employed as they weren't entitled to it.

The Foundation warned that this could lead to firms reclassifying workers as self-employed in order to avoid paying the legal minimum wage.

Conor D’Arcy, a policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “The UK’s labour market has been very successful at creating jobs in recent years. However, far too many of those jobs offer very low pay and precious little security.

“This is especially true of the growing army of the self-employed. While many are higher earners who benefit from significant flexibility, around half fall below the low pay earnings threshold of just £310 a week. The government can start by extending minimum wage protections to those self-employed people whose prices are set by a firm. This would mean that self-employed people in the gig economy would be given protection against extreme low pay for the first time ever".

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