The Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, has recently announced that he plans to introduce a mobile app through the NHS in which staff could be managed.

Suffice to say that this proposal has not been warmly received by all. In particular, the GMB Union, who have previously fought hard against an Uber-style gig economy, have branded the plans as bringing this gig economy to the NHS. This is no surprise to employment lawyers; the decision in the Uber case caused a stir in the working patterns of the gig economy, with many believing that the decision marked the beginning of the end of the culture.

Speaking at the recent Conservative Party Conference, Mr Hunt noted that nurses needed to be able to work more flexibly, do extra hours at short notice, and get paid more quickly. The Health Secretary believes an NHS app would adequately see to these issues. In response to this, Rehana Azam (the National Secretary for Public Services for GMB) hit back, saying, “[a]s if NHS staff don’t have enough on their plate with real terms pay cuts, stress on the job, and ever-increasing workloads – now Jeremy Hunt wants to force them into the gig economy as well.”

The GMB (and certainly many others would agree) worry that, given the health system’s current recruitment and retention crisis in nursing, and the current state of the ambulance service, forcing NHS staff into the gig economy by “importing a model that increases precarious working is the last thing we need”. The precise details of the planned app are as yet unknown.

Although there is a clear need for bringing the NHS into the digital age, employment lawyers across the UK are wondering exactly at what cost. After all, can the government truly justify investing heavily in this digital infrastructure, while claiming it lacks the funds to provide our nurses with a well-deserved pay-rise?

If you're concerned about how your business should be treating its employees and how the gig economy may affect you, please contact our Employment Team at Capital Law on 02920 474400. As well as being able to offer clear legal advice, we also provide bespoke employment law training through our Employment Law Diploma programme.