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The British government announced workplace reforms yesterday (which include new legislation) that will impact employers including gig economy companies, although the reforms do not seek a “radical reworking of existing business models.” The reforms set forth in the “Good Work Plan” are based on an independent review of modern working practices conducted by Matthew Taylor (“Taylor’s Review”), chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts. Taylor’s Review was commissioned by the Prime Minister, and the Reforms bring forward 51 of Taylor’s 53 recommendations.

When are gig workers not independent contractors? A case decided earlier this month by Britain’s highest court may help to answer that question.

While misclassification battles over the status of gig economy workers rage here in the United States, we are by no means the only country grappling with these thorny 21st-century legal issues. Just today, in fact, an appeals tribunal in the United Kingdom ruled against Uber by agreeing two drivers who brought a claim against the ride-sharing giant should be classified as employees and not independent contractors, therefore entitling them to minimum wage payment and statutory holiday pay. This watershed decision could spell serious trouble not only for Uber but for many other gig companies operating in the UK. The question that American businesses need to be asking now is: “will this decision impact us in any way?”

Many point to the Brexit movement as a sign that Donald Trump’s White House victory should have not been a surprise. Will a potential movement afoot in the United Kingdom be a precursor of things to come in the gig economy for the United States? 

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