Research by REC found that nearly a third of employers use digital talent platforms which connect freelance workers with companies and individuals

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New research has found that the use of digital talent platforms is growing rapidly in the UK. According to a survey by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), nearly a third (31%) of employers said they had used Upwork and TaskRabbit in the past 12 months. 29% of decision makers surveyed also anticipated that these digital platforms would play a significant part in their business over the next five years.

Kevin Green, REC’s chief executive, said the platforms bring big benefits to freelancers and employers alike, according to People Management. He said: “They give SMEs access to the global skills market for the first time. Workers can work flexibility and are in charge of their own pricing mechanisms.”

Chris Bryce, chief executive of the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, agreed. He commented: “The biggest concern if you’re a freelancer is where the next contract is coming from. Platforms provide more avenues for freelancers to find work that suits them.”

However, critics of these platforms warned that this choice of setting a fixed price will make it easier for organisations to pay less. Dr Sharon Parry, writer and blogger said: “You can spend a lot of time pitching for lower-paid jobs, but once the site has taken a cut you don’t end up with very much. I got paid £1,000 to write a training course, which was great, but I do see ridiculous things like £3 for a 700-word article.”

According to the Staffing Industry Analysts, Green added: “Anyone putting work out for tender on these sites has a responsibility to make sure individuals are paid a decent hourly rate. If these sites end up undermining some of the fundamental regulation and legislation we have in place, we’d certainly demand action from government.”