Last reviewed 20 November 2020

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has called for a swift response from businesses to a UK High Court ruling that gig workers should be offered the same protection as their permanent colleagues.

The recent High Court judgment found that workers in the UK gig economy were not being granted the rights they are entitled to under European safety and health law, including the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the right to stop work in response to serious and imminent danger.

IOSH, which has previously called for greater protection for non-permanent and gig workers, says it is crucial such measures are implemented quickly, adding that the importance of good safety and health standards is emphasised by the Covid-19 pandemic, with the urgent need to support both occupational and public health.

The health and safety body said it also believes that businesses should already be offering protection to all workers, whether they are permanent or temporary.

UK Government guidance on the coronavirus clearly states that workers should not be forced into unsafe workplaces and the health and safety of workers and visitors, and public health, should not be put at risk.

Commenting on the issue, Richard Jones, Head of Policy and Regulatory Engagement at IOSH, said, “No one should have their safety and health put at risk by the work they do, regardless of whether they are on a permanent contract or a gig worker. We would like to see a swift response to this to ensure this is the case.”

According to TUC estimates, one in 10 adults — about 4.7 million people — are involved in gig economy work and the sector includes many people who provide services to the public, such as road transport drivers, taxicab drivers and chauffeurs for example.