HR · 5 October 2017

Modern employment guru Taylor calls for policy framework around “side hustling”

Taylor review
Matthew Taylor has called for more dialogue around innovative ways of working

Around 20 per cent of UK employees are likely to start a business alongside their regular day job in the next two years, according to research from GoDaddy.

The research found that a fear of not being fully supported would put some 56 per cent of staff members off from telling their employer once they’d launched their side business.

During an expert policy roundtable this week, hosted by GoDaddy and the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) in London, Business Advice heard about the growing trend of the so-called “side hustle” amongst UK workers.

At the roundtable, Matthew Taylor, the author of the independent Taylor review into modern employment practices and the gig economy, emphasised that although the growth in the number of people looking to make extra money should be welcomed, it would become increasingly important to have the right policy and regulatory framework in place to protect side hustlers.

Taylor said: “It is important that there are some regulatory structures in place to ensure that people are protected but able to carry out their side hustle.

“We need to really understand what’s going on. And we need to use data to differentiate between different groups of people and their motivations around side hustle, as those different motivations will raise different issues or challenges. As these opportunities [for people] grow, it’s important we have the right policies in place around them.”

UK side hustles can typically provide an individual with additional yearly income of anything between £500 to £5,000, according to GoDaddy’s analysis.

Some 48 per cent of workers who start their own side hustle do so because they’re following their own passion or hobby, another survey from Enterprise Nation has shown.

In Britain, online searches for the term “side hustle” have increased 138 per cent in the last year and Emma Jones, head of Enterprise Nation, has predicted that the number of new UK startups is likely to taper off in the next few years as the country experiences more side hustling.

“Due to various aspects of uncertainty, I do think the startup rate in the UK is going to dip a little – but I actually think side hustle would be the route out of it,” Jones added.

“We’ve seen record startup rates over the last couple of years – 2012 was when the UK first hit half a million startups in the space of 12 months, last year it was 600,000 people started a limited company.

“People [now] want the security of the salary coming in. The side hustle is where we’re going to keep the entrepreneurial gene alive in the UK.”

Taylor called for more research and greater dialogue between providers and policy makers, to avoid problems that may arise as new and innovative ways of working become more widespread.

He added: “The central challenge is how to create a piece of research or dialogue to supplement this conversation, to predict the challenges ahead so that we don’t walk into problems, as we have seen some other companies do.

“These will include employment regulation, benefits and tax credits and coordination with HMRC – ensuring that there are regulations which help people who are side hustlers do the right thing, which are necessary, but in ways that aren’t going to be bureaucratic.

Representing the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) at the policy roundtable, the organisation’s director of innovation, Tom Thackray, said that a more accurate measure of side hustle activity was needed in order to gauge its actual value to the UK economy.

“The technological nature of the side hustle as a business model may give an opportunity to increase transparency and increase the tax take,” said Thackray.

Motivations for starting a side hustle are very complex, and a straight measure of growth such as GDP – which is notoriously backwards at picking up the value of the digital economy – might not be the best way to capture the development of this trend.

“The Facebooks, the Googles and the GoDaddys are the [companies] who can help provide a more accurate measure of side hustle activity.”

Read our in-depth interview with Matthew Taylor on the future of UK self-employment.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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