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Firms fail to put 'gig' worker policies in place

As the number of non-traditional workers is expected to grow many businesses aren't giving them guidance or training

Just 17% of UK companies have policies and strategies in place for the use of ‘non-traditional’ labour – including freelancers, contractors and ‘gig’ employees – despite using a significant number, according to Deloitte.

Its Global Human Capital Trends report found that 42% of UK business leaders expect to see a rise in the use of contractors by 2020, while 41% foresee an increase in freelancers, and 34% expect a growth in gig workers.

However, not all workers are given guidance on best practice during their contracts. Just 66% of HR teams say they are involved in onboarding non-traditional workers, while only 49% offer training for these employees. One in three (33%) say they do not assess or manage the performance of non-traditional employees.

As the number of non-traditional workers is expected to grow, many are sensitive to the risks of partnering with people in this way. More than two in five (42%) organisations say they are worried about the loss of confidential information due to the use of contractors, while 31% are concerned about the instability of the non-traditional workforce. A further 42% are wary of violations or changing government regulations in managing or categorising independent workers.

However, despite recent media scrutiny – such as on DPD, which came under fire after work pressures were blamed for the death of one of its drivers in January – 64% are not concerned about the reputational risk that could arise from negative perceptions of non-traditional employment.

Anne-Marie Malley, UK human capital leader at Deloitte, said: “The breadth of worker contracts available today offers employers huge potential to equip their business with a flexible, diverse and uniquely skilled workforce. However, most of these workers are being treated as unskilled labour, not as professionals.

"As freelancers, gig, and crowd workers become a growing proportion of the workforce and scrutiny of non-traditional workers intensifies, improving the management of the diverse workforce will grow in importance. Businesses should work to give gig and contract workers clear performance goals, secure communication systems, and the right amount of training and support to make them productive and aligned with the company’s strategy.”

Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report surveyed more than 11,000 business and HR leaders across 130 countries; 202 UK respondents were involved in this year’s survey.